Barn swallows have nested in our warehouse forever. I cut a hole with a chainsaw in the warehouse door so they can forage before we open and after we close for the night after noticing how pissed they were when they got locked out or kept in against their will. These birds eat millions of insects per year each, and this feeding begins at early dawn and goes on all day long until dark- don’t get me wrong- they play also. I see them "wrestling" with each other (bird wrestling=sixty mile an hour acrobatics that would make the blue angels look like beginner/novice/inexperienced pilots).
A decade or so ago I would be opening the doors of the warehouse around six am in the summer, and would step outside to attach the doors securely and the barn swallows that were stuck outside all night were PISSED!!! They circled around like angry hornets, buzzed past my head directly to their nests where their hungry and cold babies were either unattended all night long or attended by just one parent. A dull light bulb slowly brightened above my head and turned into the idea that these birds needed to be able to come and go as they pleased, and out came the chain saw. Admittedly strange thing to do. Who cuts holes in doors for birds to come and go as they please??? Me, I guess- I just felt sorry for them, and after that I watched them more carefully.
Barn swallows are the high tech fighter jets of the bird world, twisting and turning through the air so fast you really struggle to see them for long. The short video clip I posted captures a millisecond of the first noticed returnee this year, an illegal immigrant without papers or documentation, having flown all the way from Brazil (I think). This particular bird turns on a dime in my video so fast that it must have been pulling a ten G turn, a force of nature that would kill a human.
Take a minute to observe nature, there are great rewards and great frustration also, with the bird populations collapsing as the insect populations are eradicated by humans each year (75% less insects today than in 1970). Chickadee populations are 50% less today than in 1960. Hey- do you think it has something to do with the SUVs we drive, or the chemicals we put on our lawns??? Maybe the coal burning power plants, and global warming... who knows. Correction- I heard one more chickadee Saturday. That makes three this spring.
The hole that I cut into the door is about 7" by 7" and is about 7' off the ground. When they want to fly inside with meals for their babies, they circle around outside a few times then dart through the hole without slowing down. The microprocessor in my brain/eye notices their micro-adjustments as they go through the hole at approximately forty miles an hour (?). In and out, in and out, all day long, bugs in beak.
They are really interesting birds to have around. I root for them, hoping for lots of children produced yearly from our lives here. Last year was sad, with no more than five or seven sitting on the wires before their long flight back to South America first week of August. I don’t know why they died. How do they know when to go back to Brazil? How THE HELL do they get back here on the same day each year? How do birds less than a year old build a nest for the first time? People tell me it's "instinct" but I call that explanation inadequate! What is instinct? Some protein-molecule? I don't get it. Never have, never will.
This year is another year, though, and I've decided to have the guys sweep the floor of the warehouse instead of using a blower so any airborne particles are minimized. gotta keep the baby birds healthy. We species gotta look out for each other!
LINK TO ARTICLE:
I also heard something on NPR this am that I was disgusted about, and it caused me to look this up...
The single biggest killer of birds in the WORLD is glass windows. Homes/buildings/cars. We are killing everything on the planet (un) or intentionally, and each of us has gotta see if we can do our part to fix this slaughter. About a billion birds per year killed just in the US of A because of our windows!
Its unfair to present a problem without a solution. This was my first result:
some of this stuff sounds too strange.
Lupine plant flowering again this month with water droplets beading up on the leaves. Mankind could toil at the task of designing this plant for a thousand years and never succeed. How does mother nature design plants? It's a mystery. But this plant can return yearly to make your life more interesting! Something to look forward to in the spring.
Red buckeye foliage emerging from the overwintering bud at hourly rates- incredibly fast growth measured by the half-hour. Pull up a chair and a glass of wine and watch this plant flower, incredible.
Best nursery dog ever (Peetee), solid muscle no fat, all love and comfort. She keeps our lives here at the nursery feeling like we are home toiling around our house instead of being at a large nursery. Wanna get up on the tables for a hug? No prob.
Redbud tree flowering yesterday. Insane blossoms delighting people who walk past this display. Appalachian red redbud.
Cherokee brave cultivar of pink dogwood in yesterday's morning sun. We have ZEE BEST dogwoods one can buy. Straight trunks, full heads, covered in flowers even when young. Birds eat the berries in the fall, The best flowering tree you can buy for multi-season happiness.
Typical spring day with variable temps, clouds, wind, sun. More birds chirping now, nobody needs an alarm clock. It was really cold when I got home and had to crank up the wood burning stove.
Star magnolia glowing profusely in the afternoon sun. This is a great flowering year for magnolias and I’m not sure why.
Three dimensional leaves unfurling on a red buckeye plant. This rare plant looks horrible in a pot yet spectacular in the landscape. Because they look so sparse when young, not many people buy them, but it sure looks stunning when it’s red plumes cover the plant soon.
We had to fluff up the soil so it can dry out a little. The weather has been acting unfairly for this outdoor product- not allowing for drying in between rain events.
Weeping Katsura tree leaves bust out of their overwintering buds to glow in the strong sun yesterday. Today, these leaves will turn their characteristic rusty-red, but only for a few days, then on to green.
You can’t see in this pic but we ground a thousand yards of awesome organic mulch today. No dye. Rots into soil eventually as all mulch does. Note- don’t put mulch around the stems of trees. The moist mulch suffocates the breathing holes in the bark. Not good.
Unloading nursery trucks in the wee hours so disruption in the nursery is minimized during business hours
Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’ about to come off the truck. This fantastic tree is awesome. Glossy leaves (so shiny you can see your reflection if you hold a leaf up to your face), berries for birds in the fall, insect and disease resistant, insane burning red fall foliage, orangish new growth turning glossy deep green all summer. It’s a tree I’ve only seen planted by Mother Nature in between driveways and in wetlands only introduced into our industry recently.
Green velvet boxwood came off the truck last- full fat perfectly grown plants ready to go home with you- a treat for you and the nemesis of deer. Seemingly tasty lush foliage that is actually never ever eaten by deer.
Next on the agenda was grinding wood chips into mulch. Huge loader is operated by a young lady who weighs 105 lbs soaking wet with winter clothes on. She breaks all stereotypes.
End of the day where the sun tried to emerge from the clouds but just didn’t have the strength. Machine resting it’s tired arms after a very long tiring day of toil. Noisy!!!
Two unusual snails found on the arborvitae while unloading. Even whilst toiling, nursery eyes are open noticing mother nature’s variety.
One year in winter when the snow was deep the field mice chewed trees worth $1,000 or more.
As long as there is an inch or so of unmolested bark, you can save the tree. With a strong sharp knife, carefully apply pressure to the knife to shape the wound so it’s pointed at the top and bottom. Carefully peel the flexible bark away from the wood. Don’t push the knife into the wood, just the bark. Feed the tree. Then ignore it.
This “callous tissue” forms like rings on a tree and wraps around the bare wood. The nicest shapes heal the fastest. Happiest trees heal fastest. Well fed trees heal the fastest. This wound is three years old. Two or three more years and I’ll be able to sell this “Emperor 1 Japanese maple” again for about $1,000.
...nature’s cycle swings around again, but I’ve only seen two chickadees this spring, and only heard one lonely male sing the classic “IT’S SPRING” wake up call. Dunno why.
Nursery dog looks at me wondering why I’m so weird. Who notices stuff like that???
I dunno the answer to that question either. I walked past one of the machines yesterday morning before anyone else got to work and noticed the rust had eaten through the corner of the loader’s bucket and made interesting light patterns I’d never noticed before- thanks to tech, I snapped a pic.
I saw movement the other day, noticed two mourning doves hanging out on top of our mulch retaining wall. They seem at first to be dull crappy birds- kinda like pigeons. Flying rats.
But outdoor workers who have any interest in nature can begin to notice redeeming qualities once they start getting to know them. They make that soulful song you can mimic by blowing through cupped hands. I think they mate for life (rare trait in the humanoid world). They reproduce really early in the spring and build their nests on top of what I would consider a kindling pile of twigs like you use to start a fire. Carelessly tossed into a flat pile. Their kids are raised frugally- no frills in these families. No time wasted engineering bomb proof nests, that’s for sure. The stick piles are either carelessly located on the gravel right out there in the open, or in the crotches of eight foot Norway spruce trees. HOWEVER, because they waste no time on stupid nests carefully constructed, their kids graduate college before all other species’ children have ever even gotten on the bus for the first time.
Everyone seems to forget about bulbs. Bulbs are the most overlooked tool of landscaping, didn’t used to be that way.
I am of the opinion that most Americans want instant gratification. We don’t want to wait six months for results from any particular endeavor, least of all any effort that requires physical work. I could be very wrong, maybe there is some other hidden reason. Not worth dwelling on it though. It is what it is, but it’s too bad, and I think these thoughts each time I see my little friends that I planted decades ago returning yearly to remind me of that day long ago that I took the leftovers out so they wouldn’t go to waste.
I planted these bulbs in 1978. They have been coming back reliably for the last 41 years. Bulbs bloom in the spring weather, and go dormant after flowering- saving it up for the next year. They are resilient and continue to propagate every year. If you are looking for beautiful Perennials to add color to your backyard, you may want to consider purchasing some bulbs in the fall. Don’t forget!
This is a picture that I took today of daffodil bulbs that I planted decades ago. They are about to flower.
April 2018- same bulbs as previous picture above.
This is a blueberry plant I planted for my customer in 1983. She says it’s the best plant on her landscape (many beautiful specimens on her property). She never even picks the berries- leaves ‘em for the birds. Brilliant maroon/burning red foliage beams through her kitchen in the warm afternoon setting September sun.
Thirty years ago this tiny little old Italian man who spoke broken English used to come into our store to buy a few bags of top soil and three pounds of grass seed. He came in every weekend for months. Got to the point where I finally asked him what his project was.
He said "You taikka da soil n you taikka da seed n you mixxa up in da driveway n putta on da lawn n it comes up fast."
I thought about it for a very long time and then mixed up a batch to test. Indeed, that little old man, passed by now, was right. Three or four days and I saw green fuzz on the pile. I started doing this on an industrial scale, mixing up ten pounds of seed per yard, making three, five, ten, twenty yards at a time for customers and for myself.
In the spring, it takes six weeks for grass seed to germinate. This method takes less than a week to turn to green fuzz.
Our soil has a lot of organic material in it, and as the microbes eat it, heat is generated. It's that increased temperature and the constant moisture that tricks the seed into thinking that it's ideal germination time. Got bare spots in your yard? Try this seed soil mix. We have five different seed mixes for every application, and zee best screened topsoil you can get.
Yet another batch mixed up on Monday for a customer in Stratford- I’m the only person I know who makes seed/soil like this.
Rembrandt-like sunset last night after suffering all day long outside on a penetratingly chilly Monday. If only the road wasn’t there, a beautiful sight in a drab kind of way.
I thought of attempting to paint that dreary sunset but was reminded of my last try, a semi-utter failure. This oil on canvas is my last try at painting, and after hours/days/months/years of trying, I gave up on it.
Ever tried to paint a shadow??? Impossible. The shadow on the road stopped me in my tracks, and this painting constantly reminds me of how cool artists are, capturing scenes accurately in a way nobody else can.
I angrily shoved the worthless painting into the warehouse and that’s where it stayed for decades, gathering dust and disrespect. This winter, I finally saw beauty in it and took it to “Frames by Kosal” in Monroe and asked him to clean it up and frame it. When I went to get it, Kosal told me that he likes it, that it looked like a place that he wanted to go. Guess it’s not so bad after all. Now it hangs in my living room and in the morning when the sun sneaks through the house it briefly illuminated my try at art. Not so bad after all, too bad it took me decades to come to that conclusion.
I guess I’ll just have to settle for having a picture of that dreary sunset- I’m not even going to think about painting again ‘till I reside in an old folks home.
Top quality flowering trees, shade trees, privacy trees arrive in the wee hours
'Slotta work processing trucks full of trees! Takes many days!
They need to be treated with expertise so that when you come to see them, they look PERFECT.
14 hour days at work are normal in the spring at nurseries. That’s the way it is, but we get to work outside- what was it with the wind today???
When locking up for the day we get to see these beautiful birch trees lit from below. Landscape lighting is COOL.
The next day- still more of the same work! These Pepperidge shade trees gotta get put away before lunch.
Yesterday’s Cherokee Princess white dogwoods smothered in white flower buds.
Redbud flowers about to delight people driving by.
Dozens of pink dogwood trees of all sizes about to.....
Princeton elm trees settled in for safe keeping until you come and take them home with you to offer shade on scalding summer days.
Norway spruce loaded for delivery for some Newtown homeowner’s future privacy. We stock tons of Norway spruce because of its trouble-free happy go lucky existence long term in most conditions. Bugs, disease, and extremes of the environment trouble this tree—-NOT. Peetee the awesome nursery dog oversees the goings-on.
I grow some specimen trees like this for multitudes of horticultural reasons. Plus, this format looks a thousand times better than any other growing method. Everything grows better with aeration in the root zone, especially $500 dwarf Japanese maples. Burlapping in the scalding hot summer days doesn’t ever bother trees grown on skids. Extra water drops easily away, there’s air available to each root, and when these trees are sold, I simply unwrap the steel caging, finger-rake the rootless “soil” away from the tree and burlap the rest. Every single root the tree ever had goes with the tree to your house! Zero transplant shock!
Trees, conifers, and specimen shrubs thrive above ground as long as they get food and water. During the last recession, I stopped growing trees like this because it takes so much labor but I’m expanding this method back again. Stuff just performs better this way!
How would you like growing in hot plastic pots? It takes us substantial effort to repot smaller trees into the right size pots, and even more work to put trees on skids- we spare no effort to grow the best trees... they are family! When nursery growers think like plants, everyone wins.
Weeping form of Norway spruce loves my growing method. The deep green foliage tumbles down and flows like water over the various grade changes giving potential buyers an idea how they will look when planted over a stone wall or on a slope. These trees get put in our entrance every morning to keep reckless speeding drivers from performing dangerous high speed u-turns in our driveway. They crash into our gate, drive over trees, destroy signs and irrigation heads. Yesterday some as*ho*e in a Porsche SUV whipped around these beautiful trees so fast he crushed into the last one in the row and sped off. If he was driving more carefully to begin with he wouldn’t have had to turn around in my driveway. Good thing he was driving so fast because if I had caught him..... wouldn’t have been pretty.
I made a delivery last week to a 30-year long customer and saw a tree that really caught my eye- Corbis mas.