The Garden Enthusiast - Backyard Nature Station Update February 2014

Table of Contents



From Our Customers

What’s New in the Store?

Classes & Events


    Come in to Win a Feeder Contest       


   Old Town Tucker Update/Happenings

   Community Events and Spirit

   Other Backyard Nature Events



   Seed Starting


   Great Backyard Bird Count  

   Bird of the Month: Eastern Bluebird

   Audubon Field Trips


Fellow Backyard Nature Lovers,


We may be in the throes of winter but check out all the activities coming up – you’ll see spring will be here before we know it. Put them on your calendars. More to come…

The silent auction is in progress – come check it out (more details below).

We were able to negotiate a new lease for another three years. Thanks for your support!


 “Medieval folklore says that birds choose their mates on February 14, so it was a natural conclusion to choose the same date for our own celebration of love and fidelity.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!


 ‘Set the mood’ this Valentine’s Day with a table fountain, fire pot, or wind chime. They are 15% off through February 14th


From Our Customers


-Glad you guys are staying on Main! Rene B

 Robins enjoying the watering hole (Photo captured by local resident, Edward Kuzela) 

What’s New in the Store?

Birding: heated bird baths and de-icers are back in stock again (the distributor has run out of some of these for the season!) Don’t let your bird bath freeze up!! Nugget feeders, bird nester wire, Alpaca nesting material, stainless steel bird spikes, bluebird houses

Garden Art: Hanging brass owl, garden and standard flags


Gardening: Botanical Interests seeds are in! Lots of new varieties such as Chocolate Flower, Datura Angel Trumpets, Heliotrope, Daisy Yellow Buttons, Lupine Pixie Delight, Marigold French Lemon Drop, Bean Broad Fava Sweet Lorane, Southern Cowpea Coronet, Beet Chioggia, Cucumber English Telegraph, Cucumber Persian Baby hybrid, Papaya Dew hybrid Melon, Florida Broadleaf Mustard, Tendergreen Mustard, Okra Red Burgundy, Chile Jalafuego hybrid peppers, Summer Cube Butter hybrid squash, 5 different types of sprouts, and much more!  

 We also have new seed sprouters. You can grow up to four different types of spouts at once. You can start a new batch every few days and have fresh sprouts always available at their peak of flavor.

Garden tool belts, Copper Hang Tags, Frog Plant Ties, Orchid Bark, Orchid & Bromeliad fertilizer


Miscellaneous:  Thermometers, back in stock: Grandma's Secret Spot Remover, hand-made wreaths from local artist Caitlin Joyner


Classes & Events

Auction Time! The silent auction began on Friday, January 31st at 10AM and will run until Saturday, February 8th at 6PM. Proceeds above minimum bid will go to the Tucker Butterfly Garden (a certified pollinator garden).  The Garden on Lavista Road in front of the Tucker Rec Center was created in 2008 by a group of Georgia Extension Master Gardener Volunteers in DeKalb County. It is is dedicated to promoting awareness of Georgia butterflies, their life-cycle and preferred habitat. All proceeds received will go toward the purchase of perennials and annuals to benefit the butterfly's reproductive season as well as signage and other necessities.

Don’t miss out – there are some great items and it helps to support a local community resource open to all.


Come in to Win a Free Feeder Contest

Again this year Brome will be giving away 150 Squirrel Buster Standards, 18 Squirrel Buster Finch and 12 Squirrel Buster Plus between February 18th and March 29th.

Customers who visit The Garden Enthusiast – Backyard Nature Station and spend $25 will receive our unique store code starting February 10th. Once you have received our store code, enter the code via Brome’s
 Facebook, Web page or by simply calling Brome Bird Care’s toll free number.  By entering one time, you qualify for all the draws.

Brome will contact us with the customer’s contact information and then we get in touch with the winners. Brome Bird Care will follow up with the winner to make sure everything went well. The feeder is shipped to our store for you and we arrange with you to pick it up. Brome will not share your information nor solicit you.

Old Town Tucker Update/Happenings

  Sweet Dee's Bakeshop (770-696-4461) 
You still have time to order your sweetheart some chocolate covered strawberries, a heart-shaped brownie pop or his or her favorite personalized cake or cookies from Sweet Dee's Bakeshop.

Old Tucker Fountain now has a new checkerboard floor as the owner works toward restoring the building to its original look. For the rest of the winter they will continue to be open limited hours mostly on the weekend and for events. The current menu focuses on hand-pattied fountain burgers and the delicious Sabrett hot dogs as well as hand dipped milkshakes.

Thursday February 6th Tucker Farmers Market 4 - 8 PM 

For February visit First Thursday Food Trucks in the courtyard, along with many of the other vendors of locally grown and prepared foods.  The Market resumes weekly on April 3, 2014.

Saturday March 15th 2014 Chili Cook-off on Main Street 1-5PM

 The 3rd Annual Tucker Chili Cook-off sponsored by the Old Town Tucker Merchant Association will once again benefit the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center (DRCC). Last year’s event drew over 3,000 people.

Guests will enjoy tasting over 75 different recipes of chili and live music. The chili cook-off will also include a vendor area featuring local artists, unique goods and much more. The event will be held rain or shine. Admission is $5 per person.  For more information on becoming a chili cook-off contestant, visit

Community Events and Spirit


Sunday February 2nd Yellow River Game Ranch

General Beauregard Lee (who has a 93% accuracy rate) did not see his shadow this morning which means spring will come early.

 Saturday February 22nd Tucker Civic Association “Give an Hour” 9AM – Noon

Tucker Civic Association will be joining forces with the Tucker Historical Society to clean up the historic Dabney Shumate Cemetery (1722 Cooledge Rd). Volunteers will be clearing brush and vines, raking, and sprucing up this neglected cemetery. If you can, please bring rakes, loppers, shovels, and weedeaters. Snacks, coffee and water will be provided. Limited parking is available next door at the former day care building (they’ll have signs). Street parking is also available along Mary Anna Dr. For more information about the Dabney Shumate Cemetery, click here to access a recent article published in the Tucker Times. For more info about the workday, please email [email protected]

Saturday, May 10th Tucker Day (projected date)


Saturday, May 17th Tucker Historical Society Garden Tour 9AM – 5PM

Tickets will be available at The Garden Enthusiast and other locations closer to the date of the tour.


Other Backyard Nature Events


Saturday, February 8th Georgia Iris Society meeting 2PM

The meeting will be held at the Northlake Barbara Loar Library

Mr. Bill Waldrop, retired attorney, daylily hybridizer and owner of Kennesaw Mountain Daylily Gardens will be the speaker. The meetings are free to the public and all are welcome. Join them for education, recreation and beautification.

For more information call President Kathy Blackwell, 678-583-8603.

Thursday, February 20th Trees of Atlanta Arbor Day Speaker Event 6PM

Nationally recognized Jim Robbins, author of The Man Who Planted Trees and science writer for The New York Times will present an inspirational presentation entitled ‘The Power of Trees and How It Can Help Save the World’.  For more details about Jim’s talk and to register access this link here.

Monday, February 24th DeKalb Master Gardener Association 6PM

Mickey Gazaway of Pike's Nursery will present "Plants for Winter Interest". The meeting will be held at the Northlake/Barbara Loar Branch of the DeKalb Libraries. These educational meetings are always free and open to the public.


March 1st – June 15th Gibbs Gardens Daffodil Festival

They will be open six days a week during this time. They have more than 50 acres, 16-20 million daffodil blossoms and 60 varieties. 1987 Gibbs Dr, Ball Ground, GA 30107


Saturday, April 5th Azalea Chapter Plant Sale 8AM – 4PM

The sale will be held at the Oak Grove United Methodist Church, 1722 Oak Grove Road, Decatur, GA.  There will be over 1,000 plants to select from including Deciduous Native Azaleas, Evergreen Azaleas, Mt. Laurel, Rhododendrons, & Companion Plants.  Join the Azalea Chapter on the 5th and receive a 25% discount on your purchase. 


Saturday, April 12th Georgia Native Society Spring Plant Sale 10AM – 2PM

This annual plant sale will again be held at McFarlane Nature Park in Marietta.


April 25th – 27th SE Flower Show: “Showing and Growing”

More details to follow

 Saturday, April 26th Dekalb Master Gardener’s (DMGA) Annual Plant Sale 9AM – 1PM

The sale will again be held at the Oak Grove UMC parking lot: Corner of Oak Grove & Fairoaks (1722 Oak Grove Rd., Decatur).


Saturday, May 10th Georgia Hosta Society 2014 Leaf Show and Plant Sale 9AM – 4PM

This annual event will be held at the Wesley Center of the Tucker United Methodist Church.




This is the second in the two part series on pruning.

How to Prune

1.    1. It’s important to have the right tools. A sharp pair of bypass pruners will provide a clean cut. Avoid hedge trimmers. Although they may do the job quickly, you’ll end up with green on top and a brown interior.

2.    2. Know the ‘one-third rule’. It’s easy to get intimidated when you’re about to take the pruners to your favorite bushes. How much can you prune without damaging the shrub’s health? As a general rule, you can safely remove up to one-third of the plant’s growth at any one time. As an example, you could remove one third of the total height, or one-third of the total number of branches, depending on the type of plant and how severely it needs to be cut back. There may be times when you do prune more, such as when you are rejuvenating an overgrown shrub as we mentioned in the last article. 

3.    3. Try to always cut just beyond an existing big, healthy bud or small branch. The size of the bud determines the vigor of the growth that will come from it – this is good reason why you should wait until growth begins to do your pruning. When you are pruning plants where the leaves are not directly across the stem from one another, the direction the bud is facing determines which way the new stem will grow. Use this information to guide the growth where you need and want it. If cutting off an entire branch, cut all the way back to where the limb originates from a larger limb.

4.     4. After every 3-5 cuts step back and look at the plant. This helps you get a good sense of the direction you’re headed and helps you make good decisions on where to cut next. If you aren’t sure whether or not something should be cut, or how much it should be cut, tie a piece of string on the branch in question and step back to consider what the effect of cutting the branch would be.

5.    5. Sometimes you don’t need to cut much but rather just trim a little to shape the shrub up. If lower branches are thinly covered with leaves but still get a lot of sun, just pinch out the tips of the fast growing twigs. You’ll get a fuller look with more leaves.


It’s the time of year when many start dreaming about the fresh vegetables they are going to get from their gardens. Well, if you’re able to, it’s getting close to the time to start seeds indoors. It takes about 6 weeks for many vegetable seeds such as peppers and eggplant to grow from the seed to transplant size.

I used to do this a lot. It was fun and pretty simple. Some seeds will not transplant well and should be directly sown when it’s time outside. Check the label on your seeds to get the best results. The back and inside of the Botanical Interest seed packet contains all the information you need to you plan your garden and start your seeds.


Let’s talk about a few seed basics. A seed is the embryo of a plant that usually has a protective coating. It responds to water, temperature and light (or the lack of these).

1.    1. In order to grow healthy, strong plants from seeds indoors, you need to start off with a high-quality seed-starting mix (Fafard Seed Starter Potting Mix) that will promote germination.

2.     2. Make sure you use a clean container. If you’re re-using containers, soak them in 1part bleach to 9 parts water solution to get rid of any pathogens. Make sure whatever container or system you use has good drainage.

3.    3. Consistent moisture is extremely important to seeds as they come out of their dormancy and begin to grow. After planting the seeds, they should be watered thoroughly. It may help to dampen your soil before your plant some of your smaller seeds or those that are planted shallow. The soil should remain moist but not soggy. If they dry out, the seeds can die. Capillary mats that wick from the bottom of the container are a great way to provide consistent watering.

4.    4. Usually normal household temperatures are enough to encourage germination. However, some seeds such as tomato, watermelon, cucumber, pepper, and melons, a temperature of 70 degrees or more is ideal to germinate . Use a heat mat (Super Sprouter Seedling Heat Mat) or place near a heat vent.

5.    5. Sufficient light is a major factor influencing the growth of the seedlings. According to how many you are growing, you could hang four fluorescent tubes with two cool and two warm spectrum bulbs about 3” above the top of the seedlings. Using a timer will help to make sure that get the light they need (14 hours or more). There are also grow light fixtures available with high intensity bulbs that provide the output and color spectrum required for successful indoor gardening. (Sun System 150W Grow Light Fixture)


It’s one of the coldest winters we’ve had in awhile. Our feathered friends are hungrily crowding the feeders. Most birds can cope with winter conditions. The Chickadees, for example, can lower their body temperature to survive cold nights by 12 to 15 degrees in order to conserve energy. By early morning, however, they need food to fill their empty stomachs. You’ll find your feeders most crowded in the morning and late afternoons because of their need for extra energy.


It's National Bird Feeding Month and we can celebrate by feeding all of our beautiful wild birds nutritious seed and feed! Feeding your birds hi- energy foods (suet & seed logs, packed full of nuts and berries, and hearty meal worms; black oil sunflower; nut pieces) will provide more energy per ounce. Feeding suet in upside-down suet feeders can help to keep some of your larger birds off the feeder. Woodpeckers, Titmice, Nuthatches, Chickadees and other songbirds can easily use these feeders.

National Nestbox Week is February 14th - 21st. Nesting boxes are great for the cold weather and you may find multiple birds using one small box to keep warm. These should be cleaned out this month. That gets them ready for the bluebirds as they select their nesting territories.


Water is also very important. Birds have to fluff out their feathers so they can capture a layer of air that helps to act as insulation to keep warm. (We still have a few de-icers and heated birdbaths in stock.)


If you haven’t done so, give your feeders a good cleaning with Birdhouse & Feeder Cleaner or a solution of weak Clorox (10 parts water to 1 part Clorox). This will help to keep your birds healthy!

Have you thought about putting up Purple Martin Houses or gourds? Now is the time to do it for their return.

Did you know this was the courting season for both Barred and Eastern Screech Owls? And, for our squirrel lovers, it’s also mating season for the eastern Gray Squirrel!



Bird watchers from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Anyone anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at  The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible.  The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada.

Last year's Great Backyard Bird Count shattered records after going global for the first time, thanks to integration with the eBird online checklist program launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab and Audubon.  Participants reported their bird sightings from all 7 continents, including 111 countries and independent territories.  More than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded - nearly one-third of the world's total bird species documented in just four days.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for people of all ages to connect with nature and make a difference for birds.  It's free and easy.  To learn more about how to join the count visit and view the winning photos from the 2013 GBBC photo contest.

 Bird of the Month: Eastern Bluebird


Bluebirds are easy to love. They possess all the ingredients to enthrall a bird watcher- an azure coat of blue, a warm rich red breast and a song so soft and cheerful that you never tire of hearing it.

 • Eastern Bluebirds eat mostly insects, wild fruit and berries. They have been seen capturing and eating larger prey like shrews, salamanders, snakes, lizards, and tree frogs. Mealworms - live and dried - are a treat! They like suet too.

• Eastern Bluebirds typically have more than one successful brood per year (as most of you see here). Early nests usually leave their parents in summer, but young form later nests frequently stay with their parents over the winter.

      The oldest recorded Eastern Bluebird was 10 years, 5 months old.

• The Eastern Bluebird clutch size is 2-7 eggs. They have 1-3 broods. Incubation period is11-19 days. Nesting period is 17-21 days. Egg description is pale blue or white.

• The key to attracting Bluebirds to nest in your yard is having plenty of potential nesting locations, food and water. Bluebirds do prefer “open areas”.


 Audubon Field Trips

Check out the upcoming field trips from the Atlanta Audubon Society (get in touch with them for more information at (678-973-2437). Several this month are close by (*).


Saturday February 8th Murphey Candler Park 8:00AM

Birding Focus: Three main habitats (lake, wetlands, mixed woods) provide good species diversity. We'll look for winter residents, including waterfowl, shorebirds, and passerines. The site is also reliable for turtles. This is a good site for beginners, but all are welcome.

 Saturday February 8th George Pierce Park 9:00AM

Birding Focus: This park is one of the best places in Gwinnett County to bird at any time of year. We will look for the typical winter visitors and permanent residents: ducks, herons, woodpeckers, kinglets, thrushes, and sparrows. All levels welcome.


 *Wednesday February 12th Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve 7:30AM

Birding Focus: We will be primarily looking winter residents.


Saturday February 15th Chicopee Lake 8:00AM

Birding Focus: Come celebrate the Great Backyard Bird Count at the Elachee Nature Science Center's Chicopee Lake, a favorite site for birders. We expect to see waterfowl, wading birds, wetland birds, winter visitors and resident birds, including sparrows, woodpeckers, Hermit Thrushes, kinglets, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. This walk is open to birders of all abilities; families with children 8 and older are welcome. No dogs or strollers are allowed.


Monday February 17th Murphey Candler Park 8:00AM

Birding Focus: Three main habitats (lake, wetlands, mixed woods) provide good species diversity. We'll look for winter residents, including waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and passerines. The site is also reliable for turtles. This is a good site for beginners, but all are welcome.


*Saturday, February 22nd Fernbank Forest for AAS Members Only 9:00AM

Birding Focus: Discover more about the feathered inhabitants of Fernbank Forest. We will be looking for late winter residents, including woodpeckers. This program is excellent for beginning birders or those desiring gentle terrain. All ages are welcome.

 Advance reservations are required at 404-929-6400.


Sunday February 23rd Panola Mountain 8:00AM

Birding Focus: Winter residents of wetlands & forest, including warblers, sparrows, blackbirds, raptors, waterfowl, waders, and shorebirds.


*Wednesday, February 26th Woodlands Garden and Johns' Homestead Park 8:00AM

Birding Focus: Woodlands Garden is 7 acres of mainly deciduous forest, with stream side and upland habitats, which is being actively managed to protect and promote native plant species. We are hoping to get a few migrants in addition to the usual urban forest species. There is some up and down on bark trails so strollers, while permitted, might be difficult. Sorry, dogs are not allowed at Woodlands Garden.

 For those that are interested, we will then move by car to Johns Homestead Park, a 50-acre DeKalb County Park located in Tucker. The park is named for the Johns family and their 1820s era home is still standing on the property. The park is in the early stages of development and has forests, wetlands, and lakes supporting waterfowl, woodpeckers, owls, songbirds, and a heron rookery. We will focus on the lake and wetland areas.

 All levels of birders are welcome!


Saturday, March 1 Field Trip: Piedmont Park 8:00AM

Birding Focus: Migratory, permanent & winter residents. All levels welcome. Excellent for beginning birders or those desiring gentle terrain.


Hope to see you soon,

Linda, Brittany, Jessica, Jeremy & Greyson

The Garden Enthusiast - Backyard Nature Station

2316 D Main Street

Tucker, GA 30084

Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am – 6PM

Sunday: Closed

Contact us at 404-474-7072 or [email protected] – we love to get your feedback!

Like us on Facebook!