A Look Back at 2011, Our Third Year

I’d like to start off the first post of 2012 by looking back at how our wildlife garden progressed in 2011, its third year of existence. Normally this post would actually have taken place as an anniversary post (or birthday post?) in mid-October, but I kept having to put it off. And right before the end of the year, my bad back became inflamed, and there went my last chance to post in 2011, as extended computer time was out of the question. But I ate my black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day (a Southern tradition), so I’m already hopeful that 2012 will be grand. And I’m starting the year off right by getting my update FINALLY done, even if it is way past overdue.

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 To see the full update, visit the new garden page for 2011 (you can also get to it via the sidebar at right).  You can see how far our habitat has come by viewing years 2008-9 and 2009-10.

The year 2011 was very tough for flora and fauna in Texas. Plagued by a severe lack of rain, the state lost millions of trees to drought and fire, and this meant that wildlife struggled to find both food and water. Our own habitat never reached a pretty appearance – our goal was only to use just enough water to keep habitat plants alive. However, we did transplant a few plants around, and those placed in our new garden berm (woefully not yet filled in) did quite well even in the face of drought. In the fall, we added a few more very small trees, so small that I’m not sure they can officially be called trees yet (they look more like short sticks with a bit of green stuck to them).

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Although plant progress was slow, we made up for it elsewhere. Several projects around the property reached completion. Our new gate tops the list.

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In the back, the flagstone porch transformed the look of our yard.

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But we also worked a lot with cedar. This includes ladder-style trellises that I’ll exhibit one of these days if ever a vine below will grow (the drought is to blame), and our new log feeder. But the biggest cedar project was the new pathway winding through our sideyard. It has held up very well, and we see different animals daily walking along it.

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Nearby, we created a new shade pond for wildlife near the birdfeeder. Birds enjoy its bubbling stone, toads christened it with tadpoles almost immediately (when it was warmer, of course), and it has become an important watering hole for many nighttime mammals. This probably partially led to the Great Skunk Incident of 2011, but really, the drought is to blame. And frankly, the whole point of the pond is to provide water for wildlife, so skunks might as well feel welcome. They just need to stay out of the dogs’ domain in the backyard, thank you very much.

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Aside from the Great Skunk Incident, I’ll have to declare 2011 the year of the birds for our habitat at Great Stems. Partly due to our bird-friendly habitat and partly due to the drought, we saw more species and numbers of birds than ever before. Hummingbirds, screech owls, woodpeckers, wrens, warblers, finches, and all the usual suspects were among the many species that visited (and still visit) our garden.

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Whoooo knows what 2012 will bring? It will be exciting, I’m sure!

10 thoughts on “A Look Back at 2011, Our Third Year

  1. Lots of good things going on in your garden despite the summer we had. Here’s hoping to a more tolerable 2012! Read your skunk story — we have the exact same story. Early, early one morning my husband let our dog out, immediately she met up with a skunk, full frontal spray, in a frantic she ran back in the house, stink EVERYWHERE! Just when you thought the smell was gone, you’d go outside and come back in and realize it was just your olfactory nerves shutting down to fool you. It took a while for the smell to go, but eventually it did. I put out coffee grounds, boiled vinegar, lit candles — you name it, I tried it. Just takes time. We had a skunk die under our deck one time, too. Whew….talk about stink. We finally put chicken wire around the deck so hopefully that won’t happen again. I know they need habitat, too, but it just can’t be under my deck or in my house! Happy New Year :-)

  2. I tried boiled vinegar one time, Toni — egads, we about passed out from the intensity of THAT smell. Yeah, you can only do so much and then you just have to wait it out.

  3. Karin, I haven’t seen any owls yet this year, but that’s what happened last year, too — and then suddenly we had a mama owl!

  4. Your yard is already looking beautiful and getting to see all the birds and butterflies it brings in just adds to the beauty.
    So sorry about your back. My local children both have bad backs and spend all day on the computer. My daughter uses an exercise ball, one size larger than the one you need for your height. It lets you bounce, roll back on it to stretch your back while waiting for a page to load and keeps your stomach muscles working more. My son-in-law has a standing computer desk. I have a laptop and use it sitting, standing and lounging. And a doctor I read about has a desk built above his treadmill and works at 1mph all day. He said we are not made to sit or even stand, but to be on the move.

  5. I used an exercise ball at my desk for a long time — perhaps it’s time to do so again. And I just got a laptop, so perhaps I’ll do more standing, too. Good ideas, Marilyn!

  6. Meredith I am sorry to hear about your back…I know how a bad issue can certainly slow you down. I am in love with that gate and cedar path. Your shady pond is also wonderful…I can see why the birds love to visit your garden….wishing you a wonderful 2012!!

  7. I love your gate! And your garden design, in general, looks very professional. It will be fun to follow your posts about the new garden areas and plants in the months ahead. Sorry to hear about your back, but it sounds like the black-eyed peas helped. ;-)

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