God’s other book: Backyard friends

Several members of our church congregation have t-shirts with the following slogan: “God’s work, our hands.” I like to think of the habitat-building work my husband and I have done in our backyard as an example of this philosophy in action.

I adore the wildlife that shares our backyard space. Pete and I have done a number of things to make our yard more critter-friendly, from installing goodie-filled bird feeders to planting flowers loved by pollinators to letting our lawn go “wild.”

For several years, we’ve been luring a variety of feathered friends to our yard with sunflower seeds, suet and other assorted munchies. Of course, the squirrels never got the memo that all these enticing treats were for birds and not for them. I finally gave up trying to keep the squirrels out of our bird feeders. I mean, why? I could watch their antics for hours. They are SO much fun.

The birds are patient, waiting their turn until the squirrels have had their fill. One day as I watched the birds and squirrels during morning meditation, I counted at least a dozen different kinds of birds who visited our feeders, ranging from cardinals and bluejays to woodpeckers, doves and sparrows.

We’ve been adding pollinator-friendly perennial flowers and herbs little by little each year. Here, a butterfly and bee (you can see them both if you look close) feast on some blooming chives.

We’ve traded in a neatly manicured lawn for a wildflower meadow since we stopped using chemicals of any kind in our yard. Now the grass is interspersed with violets, white clover, dandelions and assorted small wildflowers that provide both nectar and pollen. This chipmunk seems to like our new lawn as much as the bees and butterflies do.

For several years we even had a fox living under our deck. She would have the cutest babies each spring.

I had become accustomed to sharing my lettuce, tomatoes and other “salad crops” with my furry backyard friends. However, the rabbits have for the most part stayed out of my flowers and veggie beds since I started sowing white clover for them. (Shhhh! Don’t tell the neighbors.) The clover also does a nice job of filling in bare patches in our lawn.

Small mammals may not be so glad to see this guy, but we think our resident hawk is magnificent! Pete likes to joke that we’ve provided a nice backyard deli for him by attracting all the other critters. I don’t like to think about that part. I just admire the hawk.

We proudly display this sign in our backyard. Anyone can create a welcoming haven for local wildlife, says the National Wildlife Federation. This is true whether you own 100 acres of land or live in a small apartment that only has room for a container garden.

To find out how you can make your green space of any size more wildlife friendly, and turn it into a certified wildlife habitat, go onto the National Wildlife Federation web site (link HERE).

God’s other book: In memory of a beautiful little show-off

Is it normal to be in mourning for a tree? Because I certainly am.

Spring tried to come a little too early to the Midwest this year. Normally, I love an occasional 60-degree day in January, but there really can be too much of a good thing at times.

The unseasonably warm weather lasted a couple of weeks instead of a couple days and caused several of my perennials to start coming up. Some of our trees began to bud. Not good. Usually this doesn’t happen until March. Winter came roaring back, like it always does. Most of my perennials survived, but my beautiful Rose of Sharon tree didn’t make it.

My Rose of Sharon sat on the front corner of our house. From midsummer until the first frost, this lovely little show-off greeted me with hundreds of blossoms as I pulled into the driveway. Its abundant profusion of blooms seemed to shout, “Glory to God!” The bees and the hummingbirds loved it.

I’ll never know if it was climate change that caused such an abnormally warm January, but I do know I’m going to miss this amazing little tree.