Friday, November 26, 2010

At the Feeder

Preparing our feathered friends for the winter ahead...

Fall is the time to clean and stock feeders and to stock up on birdseed. Here's what they'll need.

  • Repair any feeders that need a makeover. You may need to pound in a loose nail or replace a cracked bottom piece.

  • Put out several suet feeders so all your resident birds get a turn. A single woodpecker can monopolize a suet feeder for most of the day.

  • Stock a very low tray feeder (1 foot or less above the ground) with cracked corn for mourning doves, who gather in flocks to feed in fall.

  • Keep the birdbath brimming. Fresh water is vital year-round.

  • There are plenty of ways to provide bird treats in your garden in the fall. Try some of these ideas.

  • Keep an eye on any berries or fruits in your yard. They're prime foods for birds that may alight during migration. The Virginia creeper that sprawls through the garden as a groundcover offers its midnight blue berries in early fall, right when vireos and orioles are passing through. The vines of fox grapes winding among the treetops attract later migrants like rose-breasted grosbeaks and tanagers.

  • Listen for the quiet twitters and sharp chip! notes that betray the presence of song sparrows, white-throats, and other hard-to-see native sparrows around your yard. In the fall, a bounty of ripening seeds on garden plants, grasses, and weeds brings flocks of these LBBs (that's "little brown bird" in birder talk) to backyards. They may stop at abundant seed patches for a morning or a whole week, but they're small, quick moving, and wary of people, so you'll hear them more often than you?ll see them.

  • Check garden centers and nurseries for viburnums, bayberries, and other shrubs that are already full of berries. Cart them home carefully so as not to dislodge the fruit, pop them into the garden, and the birds will reap the benefits immediately.

  • If you love a bargain, check the end-of-season sales at nurseries and garden centers. Trees and shrubs—usually the biggest investment you'll make when creating a bird-friendly yard—are often available at half price. Although the selection may not be as big as it is during the spring, the savings are hard to beat!

  • Article from Organic Gardening on line
    For complete article visit:

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Majestic Trees

    This British company prides itself on having produced a revolutionary new growing system called the Air-pot, which promotes trees to develop a vigorous, fibrous root system. Majestic Trees also incorporates the highest environmental standards in all its planning and investments. Check them out for yourselves, below is a comparison from their website on commercial tree production.

    The secret to finding a tree that will flourish when planted is to look down as well as up! Trees can absorb water from the tips of their youngest, finest roots, so an undisturbed, fibrous, non-spiralling root system will serve you best.

    It is very easy for an unscrupulous grower to sell trees at knock-down prices by skimping on root cultivation, the best advice is to ALWAYS check the root specification before buying a tree, see below for an explanation of the main options available.

    The choice you make when buying a tree:

    Air-Pot Grown

    The AirPot is a proven, revolutionary growing system which overcomes the root-spiralling problem of conventional container grown production. It is truly ingenious design solution, made of a sleeve of recycled and recyclable HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) that is textured like an egg carton, with small holes at the tip of each cone.

    airpot_roots1As the outward growing root tips reach the boundaries of the Air-Pot, the cones funnel them towards the holes, where they eventually dehydrate upon exposure to the air. The effect is a constant, gentle root pruning, which stimulates the root system to send out lots of lateral roots, similar to pruning the branches of a shrub.

    The result is a highly robust, densely fibrous root system composed of thousands of water absorbing white tip roots. Essentially Air-Pot grown trees are bursting with vitality. They can be planted any time of year with a virtual 100% success rate, are the fastest and easiest trees to establish, and will become far superior specimens over time.




    Field grown trees are cut out of the ground and soil shaken off to economise on weight. Cheap and cheerful, that's fine for easy-to-root varieties and broad scale planting (woodland planting, young hedging), where a high failure rate is acceptable. Bareroot trees can only be planted in winter. Expect a significant failure rate – up to 50% or even higher at times. Bareroot stock is seldom guaranteed.



    Field grown trees are cut out of the ground and wrapped in Hessian sacking with the soil left intact. Quality growers will have regularly transplanted and undercut the stock before the final lifting for sale – but skimping on undercutting is an easy way to cut costs. Rootballed trees have had their roots cut at lifting, so they have lost most of their fine fibrous roots, and can only be planted in winter, take longer to establish, and have a significant failure rate, varying by species. Using rootball stock can be an economic way of planting easy-rooting species, but requires careful aftercare provision to ensure success.


    Conventional Container Grown

    Field grown trees are lifted and planted into plastic containers to allow roots to regenerate prior to planting. A more expensive but better value method, compared to bareroot and rootballed, with a good success rate that enables year-round planting. The main disadvantage of the container method is that it does not promote production of fibrous root system, but rather the familiar ‘pot-bound’ effect of thick, spiralling roots, which are not very efficient at water absorption.



    Similar to the container method, bags are used for ease of handling (and manoeuvrability). Convenient, but as shown in the photograph, roots typically hit the sides of the bag and are deflected downwards. Better than bareroot, rootball or a conventional pot, but greatly inferior in root development to an Air-Pot grown tree.


    Visit Majestic Trees online at

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Plant Picks

    Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger'
    Tiger Eyes cutleaf staghorn sumac

    Lemon-lime foliage, fuzzy stems, and intense fall color make this sumac cultivar a standout. It grows into an upright, rounded form about 6 feet tall and as wide. New growth emerges chartreuse. Fall brings leaves of yellow, scarlet, and orange. Flowers are yellowish green and followed, on female plants, by hairy, dark red fruit. This plant spreads by suckers and can be invasive. The species is native to North America.

    Noteworthy characteristics:
    Eye-catching foliage in spring, summer, and fall.
    Care: Pick a site in full sun for best autumn color. Grow in moist but well-drained, moderately fertile soil. May be invasive.
    Propagation: Sow seed in autumn in a seedbed. Take semi-ripe cuttings in summer, or root cuttings in winter. Separate suckers when plant is dormant.
    Problems: Powdery mildew, Verticillium wilt, wood rot, leaf spot, blister, canker, dieback, caterpillars, scale insects.

    5 to 9
    6 feet tall and wide
    Growth Pace Invasive/Aggressive Grower; Moderate Grower
    Full Sun to Partial Shad,; tolerates average to poor soil
    Moisture Medium Moisture
    Maintenance Moderate
    Characteristics Attracts Birds; Native; Showy Fall Foliage; Showy Foliage; Showy Fruit
    Bloom Time Early Summer; Late Summer; Summer
    Foliage Color Colorful/Burgundy Foliage
    Flower Color Green Flower; Yellow Flower
    Uses Beds and Borders, Naturalizing
    Style Woodland Garden
    Seasonal Interest Summer Interest, Fall Interest
    Type Shrubs,Trees

    Article from: Fine Gardening August 2010
    For the complete article: