Monday, May 5, 2008

The Dog Would

According to "Landscaping for Wildlife - A Guide to the Southern Great Plains", distributed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, a flowering dogwood would be the perfect first tree to plant in my new Oklahoma backyard. Cornus florida is not only a native species but a source of food for both butterflies and birds. And so last October I inaugurated my backyard with a five-foot specimen of the pink variety purchased at a local nursery specializing in Oklahoma natives. This, my first step toward turning this apparent failed experiment of grass growing by the previous owner into something that could eventually be certified a wildlife habitat.

It wasn't until after it was paid for and planted that the round of local gardeners clucked their disapproval, sounding just like one of those bird seed-eating fox squirrels presently treed by my bird-loving dog, assuring me that a flowering dogwood would never grow in my little urban backyard due to its placement, the prairie winds and soil that could supply a nation with clay pots.

I would now like to present to all the disapproving gardeners what I returned to when I arrived back into the country in early April. My flowering dogwood doing what evolution has perfected - my backyard. The redbud and persimmon also planted survived the historic December ice storm perfectly intact and seem to be thriving as well.

I moved in last August to find a healthy population of house sparrows, grackles and starlings among the only visitors. These few months later I am up to 20 yard birds -- 19 until yesterday when a passing white-crowned sparrow popped-in to take a look at all the changes going on. Most of the species are now regular visitors including recently arrived hummingbirds, a pair of downys, and a flock of goldfinches with the males proudly displaying their canary yellow uniforms. It has been a lot of fun creating a safe place for them to nest, browse, feed and chase insects. A butterfly and hummingbird garden is up next and growing leaps and bounds. Hopefully I am doing something right, so far the dogwood agrees - and with blossoms like that - that's enough for me.

YIKES! Make that 21 yard birds - a pair of brown-headed cow birds just landed and seem to be checking out the neighborhood for an unsuspecting babysitter. Why don't they lay eggs in starling nests? We've got plenty of those!


Autumn said...

I had to comment, dogwood trees have a special place in my heart. My mom has told me the story many times, the day I was born her dogwood tree had one bloom. It was late August and they normally bloom in the spring! She thought it was a sign and ever since I have always had a native dogwood growing on my property. We have Cornus Nuttalii here in the pacific NW. Your neighbors will end up envying your beautiful blooms.

Doug Taron said...

I wonder what the disapproving gardeners thought the problem would be. Unfortunately, we can't grow Cornus florida on this side of the lake. It's just a wee bit too cold here- which is too bad, because they're gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen a dogwood tree (we don't get them in Australia) but they sound lovely. Autumn's story was touching. How fortunate you are to have all that bird life in your garden.

The Diva said...

TR, I have a dogwood too. Don't let the nasysayers dissuade you. There are new varieties that withstand all Oklahoma has to offer.

You'll get more and more birds, I know. And, with cool annuals and perennials, you'll get butterflies. Thanks for visiting again.~~Dee

Anonymous said...

I guess I would love to have a dog would too!

Catbird said...

Those gardeners sound like my neighbor who, seeing the seed heads I'd left in place for the birds after the growing season, offered the services of her weedwhacker-wielding husband.

Congratulations on your burgeoning yard list, even if it does include some 'there goes the neighborhood" species. Natalie Angier, who does science writing for the New York Times, recently did a piece on "biobigotry,"


of which I've been guilty, especially now that the starlings have discovered my yard.


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