Entwined Gardens Wildlife Habitat
Are you certified? It’s Easy!
Entwined Gardens Wildlife Habitat
Are you certified? It’s Easy!
Tucked away below a rocky ridge, a stream slowly bends and flows carving a craggy plateau. Wildlife abounds—sounds of water on rocks, frogs chirping and birds twittering—a wildlife habitat—welcome to Peace and Harmony—Welcome to The Yoga Garden.
While sweeping the back deck of the endless Oak leaves, I spotted these visiting guests – two caterpillars out for a stroll on the deck railing:
I know that often fuzzy caterpillars are a warning not to touch – so counter intuitive!
So yet another reason to take a well needed break – head inside and look them up – to see who these visitors are.
Both are caterpillars of Halysidota tessellaris – commonly know as either the Pale Tiger Moth or Banded Tussock Moth – the Oak tree over head is their host plant.
In researching, I found Canadian entomology graduate student and nature photographer Morgan D. Jackson’s blog Biodiversity in Focus.
Morgan writes about their ability to hear incoming sonar pings of bat predators. Some have even evolved sonic countermeasures. (Dunning & Roeder, 1965)
How Cool is that!
Morgan has graciously allowed me to share his blog on the Sonic Moth… who knew?
Explore some of his other cool posts and he’ll have you hooked on Natural Science!
Thanks Morgan for leading and sharing an Entwined Life!
At this time of year chores at Entwined Gardens include raking the leaves and acorns from under the Oaks. It somehow seems like a never-ending task, but one that always elicits a mixed bag of frustration and wonder, as I visit under the Oaks.
The grove of Oak trees was on the property when my husband purchased this woodland paradise. He hates the thought (and expense) of thinning them. So many hardwoods were cut adjacent to our property when the woods became a golf course community – habitat lost.
But their limbs have begun to hang over our rooftop, making the back deck and terrace a constant battleground… and a potential threat of roof damage in some crazy storm.
I know – first world thinking!
The acorns under foot can be dangerous, the leaves slick… and with a back that easily twists out of shape… I do get annoyed from the raking and sweeping.
It is not an easy task to establish new plants under the Oaks, as they provide a dense shady canopy for most of the year, so I often grouse (to myself) that I’d really like a more refined view from my dining room and kitchen… more light would be nice.
Most recommended woodland plants I’ve tried have languished, as the roots of the Oaks are far-reaching – sucking up any available moisture from the hard packed, root bound clay soils.
Then comes the fall when the thick drop of leaves builds up an anaerobic layer, smothering anything below.
To have any success, I have learned to plant specimens in pots. Should they survive the deer, then I create a modified raised bed – planting on top of the of the woodland floor adding good soil amendments around the root ball and spreading out the hauled in soil around the plant – yet not too high to smother the roots of the Oaks. It’s a learning experience and indeed a delicate balance.
I grumble more as most of the acorns sprout with ease just laying on top of – well anything – in the pots in the raised planting and across the woodland floor… while nothing else grows with vigor under the thick woodland floor of tannic acid… each spring I have a sea of Oak seedlings.
Oh a good remainder when raking – to limit the amount of Oak leaves added to the compost pile – no more than twenty percent because they take forever to break down and will create an acid, anaerobic mess.
While on the topic of tannic acid, (Plant Geek Alert!) it is also found in acorns… this is the true reason that squirrels and Jays hide the nuts… waiting for rain and melting snows to wash away the tannic acid over time to make them palatable. It is also nature’s way of distributing the nut seed with squirrels acting as dutiful gardeners planting them in new locations where often they forget to retrieve.
Or, is it Mr. Squirrelly shrewdly planting a tree for ensuring a future harvest?
The deer eat acorns and don’t seem to have a digestive problem. Then again the deer seem to eat just about anything, except poison ivy or just plain ivy! Dang!
The sprouted acorns cannot get raked, so this becomes a zen like meditation of tugging them out one by one. There are hundreds each year! It always amazes me how quickly they can put out a tap-root of several inches long once they get growing as temperatures become mild in early spring.
Last year I had an indoor mini forest of Oaks growing in a large pot of Aspidistra – cast iron plant – which we bring in for the winter. It was amazing that 15 or so acorns sprouted and developed leaves! Note to self: to look for photo.
So in the midst of raking, hauling and grumbling, I am reminded to pause, look up and ponder…
Today with milder temperatures under a Carolina Blue sky, I laid down in the leaves to take the photo, resting and hoping to capture some frolicking squirrels, as they perform aerial feats of delight, soaring from tree to tree, but no suck luck.
I am reminded that these giants are also woodland habitat to Woodpeckers, Jays and lodging for migrating flocks.
Shelter also for butterflies and host plants for moths.
All in all – grateful for their beauty, the shade for our home. The Oak flooring we walk on, and Oak furniture we use. The delicious wine that is aged in Oak barrels…
Grateful for the Oak table our family gathers around.
Now back to work…
Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife
Thanks for taking the time to visit under the oaks…
Leave a comment on your what your favorite Oak …
Playground to garden guru – Helen Yoest, husband David Philbrook and their charming brood, The Yoest /Philbrook Family are surrounded by Helen’s Haven – a wildlife habitat in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina.
You are invited to visit and meet the newest additions to the family – Pepper and the Chicks. Saturday September 21!
Helen inspires an adoring public with wit, wisdom & whimsy…
Just an uncanny sense of solid Horticulture mixed with thoughtful solutions and non stop delight. Frankly if she doesn’t empower you to Garden with Confidence… Perhaps you should try Mahjong!
Let’s meet Helen:
David is my husband of 25 years, but he doesn’t do anything in the garden. But I thought I should mention him since he does let me get away with gardening.
How long have you been gardening at this location?
What was the first thing you planted in or changed at Helen’s Haven?
Hmmm, I had to think about that!
I put in a privacy hedge of Leyland Cypress. Yup, sure did. They are doing SO well, but not a day goes by that I wonder why I wasn’t more creative at the time and put in multi-species hedge instead. The privacy is wonderful, though.
Do you collect plants and if so what?
Dear oh dear, I have to admit to an addiction? No wait, I see you are only asking about a collection. Elephant ears, any native wildlife plant, weeping trees, rock garden plants, and any BIG, BOLD, LUSTFUL plant.
How much time do you spend working in your garden?
Every Sunday. It may be for an hour or 6 hours, but that is the only day I have. It is my most anticipated day of the week. If something should get in the way of that, I will pick up another day to cover my lost time. I couldn’t go a week with out getting my hands dirty. But I visit daily.
Any favorite Garden tools?
What is your mulch preference?
Composted leaf mulch from the City of Raleigh
Anything new added to your garden art collection?
I have a couple of new pieces of garden art. You will have to come see them for yourself.
What is your first memory in a garden?
Planting tomatoes with my dad.
What is it that got you started gardening?
I wanted to be with my dad and be like my dad.
Who is your Horticultural Hero? Or Garden mentor?
My horticultural hero are the staffers at the JC Raulston Arboretum. I’ve even dedicated ” Plants with Benefits” – to them, specifically naming Mark Weathington, Tim Alderton, and Chris Glenn. Then there is John Buettner. Thew, I’m one lucky gardener!
Where do you go for inspiration?
Everywhere. I’ve never visited a garden I didn’t like. I get to see lots of them as a Field Editor for BHG and my other garden writing travels. I get ideas from every garden I see. I was just in Anthropologie and took away a gardening idea. Once your eyes are open to something new, ideas just jump out at you.
Do you have a favorite Garden you’ve visited?
Oooo, this is a tough one. Public garden I’d say Chanticleer. Private garden I’d say the one I just scouted.
Do you have a favorite Garden Book? Website – Blog – Magazine?
My favorite garden book is Gardening with Confidence ® of course lol.
And my second favorite book is naturally my next book due out the first of the year,
But seriously, Fallscaping – Extending your Garden Season into Autumn- is an all out fave. I guess it’s because I’m such a big fall garden love.
My fave magazines are Country Gardens and Gardens Illustrated.
How much time do you spend just enjoying your garden? And what type of things…
About an hour a day. Usually take a walk through to feed the chickens, throw the ball to my dog, Pepper, and hang with the kids.
If money were no object what would you add or do differently?
I would feel less guilt. lol Dang if my kids don’t eat a lot of beans and rice….
Do you have garden wisdom’ to share?
Nope. Just get out and experiment. If I have to convince you to garden, then your heart isn’t in it. You’ll know when the time is right.
Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden.
The back porch. I invite everyone to just come and sit. It’s very relaxing. The mixed border is before you, giving you an opportunity to watch the wildlife.
See you at Helen’s Haven!
Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife
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