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--- Anne K Moore April 24, 2009 ---

Silence is golden.  This old-time maxim describes the quiet we treasure when we work in the garden.  There is nothing worse than having that silence broken by a neighbor's favorite tunes blasting from a player.  This rudeness drowns out the most welcome sounds of nature:  Breezes that rustle the greening leaves, birdsong that stirs the heart, and buzzing signally the bee-pollinating of the spring flowers. 

This season, amidst the piled up chores waiting for sunny skies and warm days, do not forget to add birdhouses, birdfeeders, and birdbaths.  Although food is very important to our wild neighbors, water is crucial.  Even if you do not put out any seed or suet, you will have visitors if you keep a birdbath filled with fresh water.  Two baths are even better.  Some birds prefer a shallow bowl on the ground; others prefer it raised up onto a stand.

When you are picking up flowers for your borders and containers, remember plants that will provide food and shelter to the wildlings.  Coneflowers, sunflowers, burgundy grass, black-eyed Susans, and the gorgeous annual millet, 'Purple Majesty' (Pennisetum glaucum) all provide seeds later in the season.  Some, like coneflowers and sunflowers, do double duty by providing butterflies with ample landing pads during their blossoming days.  Bronze fennel is a caterpillar incubator for the swallowtail butterfly.  Hummingbirds love deep trumpet flowers like Cuphea (cigar plant) and any of the flowering salvias, blue included.

Add food and water to your garden and they will come.  Birdhouses are also good additions.  Evergreens, like hollies, cryptomerias, cedars, and Leyland cypresses provide hiding places and keep the chill at bay on frosty nights.  Trees with spreading limbs, like crabapples, invite robin nests.  On a very large property, a dead tree could be left standing.  Only do this where it will not damage anything if it falls.

Dead trees are real necessities to keep our woodpecker population thriving.  Look for woodpecker houses to hang in a small garden.  Suet hung in a suet feeder will help to draw woodpeckers into the garden.  They will also eat large striped sunflower seeds.

It is a real pleasure to see red-bellied father woodpeckers hiding suet or sunflower seed along the trunk of a tree and then bringing in a fledged youngster, teaching it to find food in a natural place.

Provide Food, water, cover, and a place to raise young and you will be rewarded with the three B's:  Birds, butterflies, and bees.  The chirping, scolding, buzzing, splashing, and singing fills the warm days with sound.  Contained chaos is a fitting description of a healthy, happy garden. 

Hush and listen to the harmony.  There is not much quiet in a living garden.  Bring liveliness back with birdsong and butterfly wings.  

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Photograph courtesy of Monrovia

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