Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Random Wildlife Gardeners Video Day

Check out these video attempts to lure you into wildlife gardening. (link to Wildlife Gardeners Forum)

Going Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants.
A university decides to plant native.

youtube Going Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants

Native Plants for balance. I like this persons style.
youtube Native Plants for balance

Native Plant Restoration: Grasslands
Learn how and why with the volunteers.
youtube Native Plant Restoration: Grasslands

These Prairie Chickens in the Fort Pierre Grasslands are so great to watch strutting around.
youtube Prairie Chickens in the Fort Pierre Grasslands

A local Chicago gardener gone blogger shows the bees that inhabit his garden.
Urban Bees At Chicago Now Mr Brown Thumb

This is odd but very good. Take away what you will.
The music is by Olga Nunes; the lyrics are by Neil Gaiman
Popcorn anyone???

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines

Trees, Shrubs and Vines for Urban and Rural America
A planting Design Manual for Evironmental Designers

Gary L Hightshoe
Professor of Landscape Architechture
Iowa State University

If you have been trying to decide which native woody plants to include in your landscape (and you live east of the rockies) then this is a very good book for you.

As individuals trying to choose for our own garden this book may be a bit pricey. Therefore I suggest first getting a good look in your local library or arboretum. It will take some time, at over 800 pages of information, but you can always go back another time .

There is plenty of information on each plants visual characteristics but it is the ecological information that is the most helpful.
Maps showing native distribution and the urban tolerance charts plus wildlife value information,
help decide between species.
The complied data on many similar shrubs such as cornus...
Gray dogwood/c. racemosa versus silky dogwood/c. amomum
or even redosier/c. stolonifera (redtwig)
is presented in a manner that aids decision and does not overwhelm.

Clethra/summersweet is often touted for wet to moderates soils but the maps show that is not locally native to Chicago where I live
but it is resistant to salt and soil compaction.

A choice for dry to droughty soil moisture might be Sweetfern/ comptonia peregrina.
Maps show an area along the bottom of Lake Michigan that includes Chicago
but not the rest of Illinois.
This plant does show a resistance to salt but is sensitive to compacted soils.

Each woody plant be it tree shrub or vine is evaluated for wildlife using high moderate or low rating and including a few creatures and if for food, shelter or nesting.
Evidence of value to insects being taken into account was lacking but that is not unusual in that this book was copywritten in 1988.

Within this book you will find a philosophy requiring of designers an understanding of the unique environmental conditions of each site and a focus on the mutual dependencies and interrelationships characteristic of its indigenous plants and wildlife community.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Hawks in town.

No, I'm not a hockey fan. Recently a couple of Chicago area blogs have shown pictures of the hawks they have spotted. Although this picture was taken in late summer in our Chicago garden, our visitor seems appropriate to add here today. These are the clearest shots taken from several visits. Apparently the wildlife garden is a place of interest. Both baby rabbits and morning doves have been on the menu.

After looking at a lot of bird guides and trying to figure out just what sort of hawk ,we came to the conclusion it could be a Cooper's hawk but more likely a sharp-shinned hawk.

A squirrel may have had its life saved by our picture taking that day. It sat immobilized by the nearness of the predator until the bird flew off in protest of our meddling presence. The squirrel then moved so fast it seemed to disappear into the foliage.

Later we noticed either the same hawk, or one very similar, perched higher up on the garage for a really good look. See the foot wag? Maybe a shush ,go away, your scaring off dinner?
Other Chicago area blogs with hawk stories...