Warp Speed Habitat

Our neighbors thought we were nuts. That might actually be true. Regardless, within 18 months of moving in to the current house, we planted 101 different

species

of plants. On a .25 acre lot. The nurseries around here love us.

We were fortunate to be able to get some discounts by buying end of season. We also picked up a number of perennials at the

Transylvania Tailgate Market

in Brevard. [Facebook link

here

.] Still, that's a lot of species. Especially since in a number of those we are talking multiple plants. By our most recent tally, we actually planted over 300 plants. This does not count the division and re-distribution of plants that were already in place. [

Photo at left: some of the first shrubs, arrowwood viburnum, are placed

.]

It is important to us to have a beautiful, inviting yard because we like to look at it and be in it. It is just as important to us, however, to have a yard that invites in life. We had done the same sort of thing in our last home, establishing our first

National Wildlife Backyard Habitat

. These habitats don't need a lot of yard--in fact, you can qualify if all you have is an apartment balcony. What the NWF is trying to encourage is green spaces that other species besides ourselves can actually use. So a source of food/water is essential, and some kind of hiding place. Sometimes that's all it takes, as my sister's nesting hummingbird can attest.

Shortly after moving in, I took advantage of a short course offered through the

Cradle of Forestry

that took place at the

North Carolina Arboretum

in Asheville. I took the workshop on Native Landscaping and Water Management that is part of the Woodland Steward Series. This is where I learned the shocking news that I would have to give up my addiction to butterfly bush, because of what it is doing to our national forests. While my knowledge of native plants for South Georgia was pretty complete, the mountains of North Carolina are a whole other animal--and I wanted to know quickly what the best alternatives for our new yard would be.

We made the decision that we would use native southeastern plants for the majority of the new planting. Where appropriate, we would remove non-native species. Fully 75% of what we planted is native to this area. Of the 25% that is not, most are native to the US, just not native to our part of it (heuchera and lupine are examples).

It has been a real joy to discover the variety of flora available to us in Western North Carolina. In South Georgia, finding anything that could create "fall color" was a challenge. Here were are inundated with leaf color. Some of my new favorites are

red chokeberry

,

fothergilla

and

ninebark

. What

has

been a challenge is finding natives, or native cultivars, at local nurseries.

New Leaf Garden Market

has been a real help in this area because Hope will go out and find us what we're looking for--not a commitment most nurseries or garden centers will make. Going to Lowe's? Forgetaboutit. [

Photo right: the same viburnum, with drip irrigation in place and other new, mulched plantings in the background

.]

The end result has been hugely successful. A bird feeder will bring doves, house finches and cardinals. It takes habitat to bring in caterpillars, song sparrows, towhees and thrushes. We'll continue working on our landscape--refining the plan and tending to the needs of the soil, and we'll continue to keep you posted!

Thanks for reading--

Backyard Bird Count!

Rufus Out of the House!

Rufus Out of the House!