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Fellow Backyard Nature Lovers,
Welcome to fall! It was amazing to see the leaves start falling in August. We survived a very strange summer that brought lots of rain, little sunshine and cooler temperatures. Fall is a wonderful time to plant. It gives trees, shrubs, and perennials time to settle in and to grow a better root system before their growth spurt in spring and the summer heat. The soil is typically warmer than it is in the spring and with cooler temperatures the plants lose less water through their leaves. Check out the gardening section for adding plants that add color and interest in all seasons.
We are excited to begin offering TWO new services starting in September:
First, Party time at TGE
The Garden Enthusiast is now hosting parties for young and budding Nature & Science Lovers! Choose from our fun party packages such as the Fairy Party or Bug Party or make things really interesting and experiment with a Mad Scientist Birthday Party! You can even rent out the space and plan your own festivities! You don't have to worry about sorting out entertainment and games for your party. Our nature-related themes and hands-on activities will ensure your child and friends have an unforgettable party. Call Brittany at 404-474-7072 to discuss your party plans.
Second, The Garden Enthusiast – Backyard Nature Station is now a Droll Yankee Service Center.
Droll Yankee introduced the first tubular bird feeders in America in 1969. They are still American made in Connecticut and well known as dependable, quality feeders. Many Droll Yankee Feeders, including the Flipper, Dipper, Whipper and Tipper models, have lifetime warranties, so if you have one that is inoperable bring it in and see if its covered.
We have a number of items that have worn out their welcome, and refuse to make space for new arrivals. Check out our new 'Make an Offer' items in the store or the on the website, where you can name your own price (within reason, of course). There are very limited quantities of these products, so submit an offer today!
Specials through September 14th: 20% off in stock t-shirts, 25% off all in stock fountains, and 10% off Botanical Seeds. Get a free sample of Feeder Fresh when you purchase a bird feeder.
We’ll also be adding new items to the clearance section so check it out for additional deals such as Summer flags now 40% off. Look for green tags throughout the store for other items. Remember, if you’re already on our Specials notifications list, you’ll hear about these as we put them out. If not, join our list (send an email to [email protected]).
Last call for those interested in finding out more about becoming a Dekalb Master Gardener in 2014. You must attend an information session in order to pick up an application. There are two sessions planned (4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032): Wednesday, September 11 or 18 at 9:30 AM. Training involves 55 hours of daytime training (gardening and horticulture) every Wednesday from Jan 8th through end of March. You must be able to attend all sessions and be available to return 50 or more hours of volunteer time. The fee is $150 for training and materials. For additional information call Gary Peiffer ([email protected]) or Sarah Brodd at 404-298-4080.
Have something you want to share with others regarding backyard nature – maybe a squirrel tip, or where to go bird watching locally – email me and we’ll put it in the next newsletter.
From Our Customers
Thank you, Linda, for all the good information (from Dawn). I enjoyed the presentation very much! Cristina T
From Jeanne G:
Reps. Earl Blumenauer and John Conyers just introduced a bill which would suspend the use of bee killing pesticides. Please join me in adding your support to the Save America's Pollinators Act:
Hi Linda. Look what I captured on film in our backyard today (August 16th); a baby hawk
and a baby squirrel; neither knows who the other is "lunch" or "predator": Bosom Buddies. Vanessa R.
What's New in the Store?
Birding: I know we announced in the last newsletter that we now had the new Tough Bird Feeder Guard by Coles but I wanted to share a little more information about it from the manufacturer. Customers are having great success thwarting the squirrels!
- What it does: The Feeder Guard trains animals not to climb a rod, pole or pipe to reach a bird feeder, bird house, or plants.
- How it works: The Feeder Guard snaps around the rod, pole or pipe just below your feeder, house or plant. When an animal attempts to climb past The Feeder Guard the animal receives a static shock and jumps off. The animal quickly learns that it should not touch The Feeder Guard and is blocked from climbing the pole. The electrical pulse generated by the Guard is similar to the shock you get from door handles on a dry winter day. Although harmless to animals, it is an unpleasant sensation that animals will avoid. A casual touch will not shock you. You have to grasp the tube to activate a static impulse. Only the tube section below the battery compartment of the Feeder Guard is electrified. Nothing else is affected. You can safely handle your pole and feeder as normal.
- Please understand that The Feeder Guard WILL NOT stop squirrels from jumping to the feeder from a nearby tree, fence or other object. Once squirrels are blocked from climbing your pole they will attempt to bypass the Guard by jumping directly to the feeder. You may need to move the feeder up to 10 feet from other objects to prevent this.
- The Feeder Guard WILL NOT stop squirrels from jumping up to the feeder from the ground if the feeder hangs too low. Most squirrels can easily jump 3 feet straight up and some can jump more than 4 feet. If the squirrels are able to jump up to your feeder from the ground you will need to get a taller pole, a shorter feeder, or both.
- The Feeder Guard MAY NOT stop every squirrel on their first attempt to pass the Guard. The Guard uses a special touch sensing circuit that will activate the Guard when touched by an animal but prevent activation by rain or snow. Even though this circuit checks for animals four times every second it is possible for a very fast, and lucky, squirrel to beat the Guard's timing and reach the feeder. Be assured that this will not happen often and even Mr. Lucky will soon get caught and learn to stay off. Most squirrels will receive a training pulse the very first time they touch the Guard.
Garden Art: fall flags, matmates, Belissimo Bells Trio, Wildflower Fandex, Thermometer/Rain Gauge on a Swivel Bracket, 10 ¾” Weathered Copper Thermometer
Tool Shed: Large Tubtrugs; copper and stainless steel tree tags
Old Town Tucker Update/Happenings
A BIG thank you to the Atlanta Regional Commission who paid for the handrails that went up in front of the stores down from us. The Tucker Civic Association worked with them to figure out the design and placement.
Check out Sweet Dee’s new website at http://sweetdeesbakeshop.com/
Saturday, September 14th, 5 pm Tucker Cruise-In
Saturday, October 19th, 1- 6pm Taste of Tucker
Taste of Tucker moves from the Tucker First United Methodist Church (TFUMC) parking lot area to Main Street this year. Put it on your calendar now. Plan to come out and experience food from about 30 restaurants, fresh produce and listen to the sounds of local musicians. Proceeds will again go to NETworks Cooperative Ministry, a coalition of 18 churches in the Northlake/Embry Hills/Tucker area, which helps those in need with emergency payments for rent and utility bills and with food provisions.
Thursdays from 4 - 8 PM Tucker Farmers Market at 2333 Main Street in the Freemasons Square and Bank of America parking lot. First Thursday of each month is the Food Truck Night.
Community Events and Spirit
Saturday, September 14th, 9 am – Noon Tucker Civic Association’s ‘Give an Hour’
TCA and the Friends of Tucker Recreation Center will host this event. Volunteers will be painting the cafeteria at the Rec Center (4898 Lavista Road). If you can, please bring brushes, rollers, buckets, and paint trays. Snacks and water will be provided. The Friends of Tucker Recreation Center is the newest “Friends of the Parks” group to form in Tucker, and this is their first organized event. Information will be available about the group and how you can get involved.
Saturday, October 12th, 10 am – 2 pm Browning Courthouse Day
Other Backyard Nature Events
Native Plant Garden at the Georgia Perimeter College Campus 3251 Panthersville Road
There are many things happening at this native plant garden. The Fern Madness sale is going on through September and includes some hard-to-find Carrot-Top, Upside Down, Peterson’s and Champion Wood ferns plus many more. Check or cash only.
The Fall Lunch and Wildflower Series begins September 6th. The talks start at 12 Noon and each are preceded by a walk that is form 10:30 – 11:30
Friday, September 6th, Using Plants from GPC Native Garden to Landscape My NC Home
Presented by Lynda Andersen
Garden Walk: Growing Difficult Drought Tolerant Perennials with George Sanko
Friday, September 13th, Native Alternatives to Common Landscape Plants
Presented by Eddi Minche
Garden Walk: A Walk through the Ferns with Mary Lou Cannamela
Friday, September 20th, Plant ID for Dummies: How to ID Common Plant Families
Presented by George Sanko
Garden Walk: Outstanding New Ferns for the Southern Garden with Orra Sue Naglich
Friday, September 27th, Plant Natives and the Birds Will Come
Presented by Karen Lindauer and Leslie Curran
Garden Walk: Highlights of the Plant Sale Area with Marcia Parker
Fall plant sales at the Native Plant Garden are (10 am – 2 pm):
Fridays: September 6, 13, 20, 27, October 4, 11, 18, 25, November 1
Saturdays: September 7, 21, 28, October 12, 26, November 2
Check or cash only
Saturday, September 14th The Georgia Naturalist Rally
Whether you are a seasoned naturalist or someone new to nature, this 3rd annual day-long event offers something for any lover of the outdoors. Throughout the day, they are providing a variety of walks, hikes, and other activities throughout the park’s natural district. Experts will lead you through forests, fields, lakes and, of course, on the mountain while focusing on a variety of natural topics. Activities for children (with their parents) are also a part of the fun. $12 registration covers lunch, your choice of sessions, and entrance into Stone Mountain Park. In conjunction with the Rally, the Georgia Native Plant Society will be holding a plant sale that day. Find lots of great native plants for your homes and gardens! Visit http://stonemountainpark.org/Natty%20Rally.html for more information and to register.
Monday, September 23rd, 6 pm DeKalb Master Gardener Association monthly meeting, Northlake Library (Barbara Loar Branch)
Arty Schronce will speak on "Making Your Fall Garden as Beautiful as Your Spring Garden". Arty has recently contributed some photography for an article "The Garden in Autumn" by the New York Times.
Sunday, September 29th, 2 – 4 pm Sunday in the Garden, Woodlands Garden 932 Scott Blvd. Decatur, GA 30030
Put on your walking shoes and explore Decatur's seven-acre garden and Georgia Piedmont native plant habitat. Volunteers welcome you and provide helpful information. Musical surprises await. Free and open to the public.
Thursday, October 3rd, 6 pm Trees of Atlanta Speaker Series
Greg Paige, Curator of Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories Arboretum in Charlotte, NC will present a lively presentation on ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Tough Love for Trees in the Urban Environment’. For more details about Greg’s talk and to register access this link here . Light refreshments including beer and wine will be served at 5:30 pm. Parking available at the Trees Atlanta Kendela Center (225 Chester Avenue, Atlanta, 30316).
Monday, October 28th, 6 pm DeKalb Master Gardener Association monthly meeting, Northlake Library (Barbara Loar Branch)
Duane Marsden will speak on Mushrooms. Information is coming to light on the importance of fungi to gardening.
At the end of summer our garden can start to look worn and a little droopy. It can be a great time to take a good look at what can be done to freshen it up, add some color and some pizzazz. It takes a little planning to keep a garden looking great in all seasons. With some thought to plant selection your garden can be interesting to walk through all year round. You’ll see lots of mums and pansies in the garden centers for planting now but if you want a spring garden that can continue for months, plant some bulbs now for a gorgeous show in spring. Try planting several varieties with different bloom times so you can enjoy the color throughout the entire spring season. Check the information on the labels. Look for daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, anemones, crocus, snowdrops, allium, iris, frittilaria, lilies and glads. Use a fertilizer such as Espoma Bulb-Tone when planting. It helps to give bulbs a good start at planting time for best results.
Some perennials to consider planting now for fall and winter color include asters and hardy mums (florist mums are not perennials), fall blooming sedums, Heuchera or Coral Bells (great for changing colorful foliage), Blue Star (amsonia), Russian Sage, coreopsis, and cosmos. Hardy ornamental grasses can add texture, height and color. Ferns, such as Autumn fern, show off in the fall and winter with changing colors (check out fern sale at GPC Native Plant Garden in article above). Carolina jessamine will flower for you in the winter as will Lenten Rose. Add some pots of rosemary, thyme, and lavender for interest and for culinary purposes. You can achieve a natural palette of color year round!
September and early October are good times to divide and replant your perennials either to refresh or to multiply them (for you and/or for friends). You don’t have to dig the whole clump up. To make it easier, cut back the tops so you can see what you’re doing. Cut down with a shovel into the number of divisions you want – like two or four. Dig inward and down and remove your new ‘plant’. Leave as much dirt on the ‘new plant’ as you can. Fill dirt back into the hole and plant your ‘new plants’ in their new area or put in a pot to give away. The mother plant will fill in quickly.
This is the third part in our series on how organic active ingredients work. Organic products are more popular than ever and their active ingredients and the way they work may be different from the conventional products you may be used to. This month we’ll focus on Herbicides. (Adapted from an article from Today Gardens Center)
Herbicides are used to kill unwanted plants in our garden. Some herbicides are selective, killing only specific plants, while others kill every plant they come in contact with. Organic herbicides are generally used along with cultural and mechanical weed control practices. Herbicides work best when applied to young weeds on a hot, sunny day.
Systemic herbicides are distributed through the plant, either from foliar application down to the roots, or from soil application up to the leaves through the vascular system. There are currently no proven systemic organic herbicides available.
Contact or post-emergent herbicides destroy only the plant tissue in contact with the chemical. Generally, these are the fastest acting but are less effective on perennial plants, which are able to regrow from rhizomes, roots or tubers. They need repeated applications. Examples include ammonium nonanoate, citric acid, acetic acid (vinegar), clove oil and cinnamon oil. Concentration levels are very important. Table vinegar, for example, is about 5 percent acetic acid, whereas herbicide levels are at least double that. You may be able to find 10% vinegar where pickling supplies can be purchased. Repeated applications of vinegar will increase the acidity of the soil. D-limonene (citrus oil) is a natural degreasing agent that strips the waxy skin or cuticle from weeds, causing dehydration and death of the plant. Saltwater or salt applied in appropriate strengths to the rootzone will kill most plants. Salt can affect soil balance and can harm your garden plants too – only use it where you don’t want any plants to grow. Commercial products include St Gabriel Organic Burn Out Weed Killer (food grade Clove Oil and Citric Acid) and Natural Guard Organic Spot Weeder (Citric Acid and Soybean Oil).
Suppressants or pre-emergents prevent weeds from reaching sunlight. Mulch/compost, corn gluten and landscape cloth/mats prevent weeds. For mulch or compost to work as a weed control, it needs to be a thick layer of about 4 inches. Corn gluten meal (CGM) works by dehydrating tender shoots as they emerge from the soil. It breaks down quickly so it usually needs to be reapplied. It will not affect weeds that have grown beyond ‘sprout’ stage. Commercial products include Natural Guard Corn Gluten Lawn Food (9-0-0).
- Fall migration is happening now. Watch you feeders and get out your binoculars as the birds fly to Central and South America for the winter. Remember we have quite a few good local bird watching sites such as Henderson Park, Stone Mountain Park Songbird Trail and the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve. Check below for the bird walks sponsored by the Atlanta Audubon Society or take off on your own with a good birding book.
- Pam H. came in to remind me that for the next few days you could watch the Common Nighthawks especially at lighted ball fields at night. She suggested particularly the Atlanta Silverbacks Park off of Northcrest Road. Also, for a few more days catch the Swallowtails during mid-day.
- Leave your hummingbird feeders up - this is peak hummingbird viewing time!
Bird of the Month: Black-capped Chickadee
- The Black-capped Chickadee has a short neck and a large head giving it a spherical body shape. It has a black cap and bib. The chest and sides of face are white and the flanks are rusty brown. Its back and tail are gray.
- Chickadees often bounce around while flying in flocks and don’t stay long at a feeder; rather, they’ll grab a seed to eat elsewhere.
- They like insects, especially caterpillars, seeds (particularly black oil sunflower) and berries. Black-capped Chickadees also store food. Typically they’ll hide seeds, and sometimes insects, in different spots and can remember where they are even a month later. During the winter months they have been known to take seed from a person’s hand.
- Chickadee calls are complex but work effectively. They have calls for communicating information, predator alarms, as well as contact calls. The more “dee” notes in a Chickadee’s call mean a higher level of threat. The most familiar call is the chick-a-dee-dee-dee.
- The Black-capped Chickadee nests in a hole about 5 ½ feet up in a tree. They may use an old woodpecker nest or natural cavity and will also use a nesting box. They use materials consisting of a base of moss or bark strips with a lining of finer material such as mammal hair.
- They breed once a year. The nesting season is from late April through June. The clutch is 6-8 creamy white eggs speckled with fine dots of reddish brown. Incubation time is 11-14 days and they fledge in 12-16 days. The babies are fed by the female and she is fed by the male.