Notes from the Pharm Journal 


   I have always been an avid reader of any and all information on gardening and creating a pleasing landscape. Much of the Internet information comes from self-professed experts but it is free.  You can tell by the vague terms: plant in a sunny location, use average garden soil.  We live in the hot south where the summer heat can kill just about all plant life out in an afternoon sizzle. Many plants can thrive on a few hours of morning sun every day, some in complete shade and some will cook just because it�s so very hot.  It became a challenge to find the plants that would survive. Even then, it only takes a bunny rabbit a few minutes to kill an entire morning glory vine by chewing through the stem at ground level.

    Our landscape is designed for the protection of the birds as we live in an area with many predators (hawks).   The lower branches on trees are left untrimmed to provide cover for the feathered creatures to come down and eat seeds (and bugs) and to drink fresh water. It isn�t too handy for the tall humans who must tend the area but it is much safer for the little creatures.  Lawn grass that is encouraged is a native and survives growing in sand and throughout years of drought.  We had the advantage of moving into an oak forest with plenty of heavy growth to all heights. The many acorns attract the blue jays who spend the winter.

   The best view of the yard is from our living room window which measures 4 foot by 8 foot with a large group of trees just outside the window providing shade to the seed table built to stand just under the window and extends out about 3 feet.  Many birds will not come up so close to the house for seeds but many do and those that don't find plenty in the area with the water pans and other seed pans.  Such beautiful yard ornaments, changing all the time, not just with the seasons.  With a sudden blizzard that lasted 2 days, we were swarmed with the most beautiful Rufous-sided Towhees. Then, almost all of them were gone. Perhaps the same group that moved through in the spring; stayed for 2 days and then were gone. Probably 3 dozen in the group and they came right up to the seed table. To be such a beautiful bird, I'd never seen one and had to search through the identification books to know what they were.

   About 5 years ago now, we bought several honeysuckle plants, trumpet vine plants and two pampas grass plants. The honeysuckle is ahead in growth and had hundreds of beautiful yellow/white flowers for many weeks early this past spring. The trumpet vine has been very slow to make new growth and seems to need much more water than was mentioned in the catalog. Maybe they figured the average person was not in the midst of a 4 year drought.  Some areas have a normal rainfall and would never require watering the gardens. Much more growth this year but still no flowers. I had looked one day to see a big fat grasshopper just munching away on the tender topmost tip. Squashed that insect! The pampas grass was looking so very good last winter, stayed big and green almost until spring. It was a neighbor's cow that had escaped and ate the only greenery growing at the end of winter...the pampas grass and ate it almost to the ground. Of course, it came back better that ever but I was sure angry with the neighbor for awhile.  The roaming herd of wild turkeys went crazy for the seed head this summer, jumping up trying to pick off the very top. What a sight that was; the plume of the pampas grass would have been nice but maybe next year. The turkeys are eating lots of grasshoppers and have the advantage over fowl such as guineas because they can fly up into the trees away from the bobcats that regularly move through the area.