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.
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).
Although plant progress was slow, we made up for it elsewhere. Several projects around the property reached completion. Our new gate tops the list.
In the back, the flagstone porch transformed the look of our yard.
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.
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.
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.
Whoooo knows what 2012 will bring? It will be exciting, I'm sure!