Serendipity Gardens |

Nature-Related Gifts for Kids, Part 1

December 10, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe

At Serendipity Gardens, we try to provide an outdoor place that is attractive to kids. We have a pond with frogs and fish, a swing set and play dome, a fire pit for conversation and roasting marshmallows, lots of interesting plants, including instant edibles like cherry tomatoes, and lots of space for running, playing imaginative games, and more.

I read about “nature deficit disorder,” and I think to myself, “My grandchildren will never have that … because their parents make sure they get outside, including in our garden.”

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Birding Resources from Serendipity Gardens

November 21, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe

Once a few years ago, my husband was talking on the phone near an open window. The person on the other end of the line asked, “Where are you? It sounds like you are in a park.”

The noise the caller was hearing was the early morning chorus of the birds. Serendipity Gardens is  home to quite a few avian species. The ones that come readily to mind are red-winged blackbirds, robins, black-capped chickadees, sparrows, house finches, bluejays, cardinals, goldfinches, mourning doves, downy woodpeckers, hummingbirds, wrens, and last year for the first time, two brown thrashers. In addition, cedar waxwings usually visit when the berries on the serviceberry tree are ripe. There are others, I suspect, that I cannot identify.

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Serendipity Gardens Seed Heads and Seed Pods

November 11, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe
Seed - Ironweed

Seed heads on ironweed glowing in the late afternoon sun

Here is a little variation on a familiar childhood poem:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Flowers are beautiful,

Seed heads are, too.

As fall winds down, the seed heads in Serendipity Gardens become more noticeable. On a walk around the garden late one afternoon, I took lots of photos of a more subtle beauty than the beauty of mid-summer flowers that produced them.

Plants have developed many ways to propagate themselves.  The seeds in these fluffy ironweed beauties, for example, are available for the wind to carry away. Other seeds come in pods that burst open to scatter the seeds. Some seed pods have air-filled bladders attached so they can float on water until they reach a suitable place for germination. Still others are packaged in tasty fruits such as berries to tempt a bird or other animal to eat and digest them. Barbs or hooks on a seed head help it to attach itself to the fur of an animal. The seeds that use creatures can often land miles away from their mother plant.

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Serendipity Gardens 2014 “Scorecard”

October 20, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe

Businesses have scorecards to measure their goals against their accomplishments. These scorecards typically deal with several aspects of the business, such as financial performance and customer satisfaction.

Why not do the same in the garden? Of course, the parameters would be quite different. The scorecard could be a simple measure of goals versus accomplishments. With that in mind, here is the 2014 scorecard for Serendipity Gardens.

My Primary 2014 Goal

This year, we had one primary goal, to make Serendipity Gardens even more friendly to wildlife than it already was. To achieve this goal, we planned several activities. Each one is listed below, with a comment and a “grade.”

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Ten New Natives in Serendipity Gardens

October 10, 2014 by Jo Ellen Roe

I recentlyvisited a native plant sale  at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. My interest in planting natives has grown exponentially this year as I read books such as Jessica Wallister’s Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden, and Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallemy.

These authors make the case that planting natives is a good idea for several reasons:

  • They attract pollinators in greater numbers than non-native plants do.
  • They have evolved with the environment and are therefore built to thrive in it.
  • They require less care and are resistant to disease.
  • Once established, they require very little watering.
  • Having the beneficial insects in your garden that natives attract makes pest control much less of an issue.

The right question might be, “Why NOT plant what brings birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects to your garden?” It’s a lot more interesting when they are there!

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