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Front Yard Gardens: A Book Review from Serendipity Gardens

January 23, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe

What’s a gardener to do when the wind howls and the snow flies in January? Reading an inspirational gardening book is always a good idea. This post is a review of just such a book — Front Yard Gardens by Liz Primeau, a Canadian garden professional and writer. The book, published by Firefly Books Ltd. in 2003, includes hundreds of beautiful photographs, most by Andrew Leyerle.

An updated and expanded version of the book came out in 2010.

I came across this book a few years ago while perusing gardening books in a bookstore. I loved the cover, which depicted several beautiful front yard gardens. (I later learned that the top left photo is of the author’s garden.) Those pictures inspired me to begin thinking about how to transform my front yard into something far more interesting than the small sward of grass it was at the time.

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Nature-Related Toys for Kids

January 5, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe

In my last post, I listed several nature-related books that I bought for my grandchildren this Christmas. We had our final Christmas shindig of the year last night, and I believe those books were hits.

I intended to write a second installment, in which I would list a number of nature-related or eco-friendly toys found online that I thought the kids would enjoy.

Despite the fact that preparations for the actual events overtook my intention, I did in fact spend time online and found several toys that fit my three basic criteria. The toys must:

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Nature-Related Books for Kids

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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