The Garden Enthusiast- Backyard Nature Station Update August 2014 

Table of Contents 
   Updates Children’s Garden 
From our Customers 
What's New in the Store? 
Classes & Events 
   Annual Photo Contest 
  Old Town Tucker Update/Happenings 
  Community Events and Spirit 
  Other Backyard Nature Events 
  National Honey Bee Day 
  Opportunities in the Garden for August 
  Bird of the Month: Yellow-breasted Chat 
  Audubon Field Trips 

Fellow Backyard Nature Lovers, 

School is back in session and fall is around the corner. It’s still hot and humid here but don’t lose sight of the many things that are still blossoming, the bird activity, fresh fruit and vegetables, and the wonderful sounds that go with a summer evening. We will be closed on Labor Day Monday, September 1st. 

Update on the Children’s Garden: The fence is up; more weeds, rock and debris are out (I think these are ‘growing’ – there seems to be a never ending supply of them). The raised bed structures have started to go in. Progress! Brittany is working on an exciting list of programs and activities for all ages. I've seen a red-tailed hawk, catbirds, mockingbirds & brown thrashers. I hope to see a bigger variety as we get our garden in. If anyone has any cinder blocks, bricks or stone that you want to get rid of, let us know. We can use them for some of the beds.  

You have just a little bit longer to submit your name if you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener in 2015. There is only one class per year. Information sessions for the 2015 class will begin September 3rd. You can e-mail [email protected] or [email protected] with your contact info, and you will be added to their list. 

Specials: It's Time For Fall Planting: Seed & Soil Sale- Save 10% on all seeds and soil amendments throughout the month of August! 


Pat S
 came in a couple of weeks ago and asked about something she had seen a bluebird doing. I did not know about it and did a little checking. Have you heard of anting? 
From Wikipedia: “Anting is a self-anointing behavior during which birds rub insects, usually ants, on their feathers and skin. The bird may pick up the insects in their bill and rub them on the body, or the bird may lie in an area of high density of the insects and perform dust bathing-like movements. The insects secrete liquids containing chemicals such as formic acid which can act as an insecticide, miticide, fungicide or bactericide. Alternatively, anting could make the insects edible by removing the distasteful acid, or, possibly supplement the bird's own preen oil. Instead of ants, birds can also use millipedes. Over 250 species of bird have been known to ant.” Check out the following video: 


Birding: Le Petite Nutsie cake (a mix of nuts and fruit that attract a variety of birds) 

Garden Art
: wind spinners, kinetic stakes 

Children: Some great new playing cards and books such as Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly, The Bumblebee Queen, I Spy in the Sky; binoculars 

Miscellaneous: t-shirts – check out the new squirrel one:


There are just a few days left to bring in your best backyard photo of your birds, gardens, etc. for our annual photo contest. Photos must be in by August 9th. Voting by our customers will be from August 11th through August 23rd. The winners will be announced on August 25th. 

Old Town Tucker Update/Happenings 

 Sweet Dee's Bakeshop has new shop hours beginning Tuesday, August 5th: Tuesday & Wednesday: 10am - 6pm, Thursday & Friday: 10am - 8pm, Saturday: 8am - 8pm, Sunday & Monday: Closed. And don't forget to join them for breakfast on Saturday mornings! 

The Custom Frame Shop opened in their beautiful new location on July 15th. The address is 4195 Fellowship Road (at the corner of 1st Avenue & Fellowship). Check it out!

Luxe Nail Bar Salon opened on Monday, August 4th! All services for the first week are 20% off! Their services include face waxings, eyelash extensions, and all nail services. This is a locally owned and operated salon. There was a wonderful article about Sovanna and Beau in Up Close and Personal this summer. Hours will be: Monday – Saturday 10-7, Sunday 10-5. 

Saturday August 9th Tucker Cruise-In 5PM
The Tucker Cruise-In is an old fashioned town meet-and-greet of the car community on Main Street. For more information, call 770-527-1521. 

The USDA proclaimed National Farmer’s Market Week as August 3rd - 9th. Support our local markets! Sherry’s Produce, Tucker’s Farmer’s Market, David’s Produce and Country Store on Lavista, and St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). 

Thursdays from 4 - 8 PM Tucker Farmers Market 2333 Main Street in the Freemasons Square and Bank of America parking lot 

Saturday October 4th Taste of Tucker 2014 1-6PM 
On Main Street - fun for all ages. Put in on your calendar now. 

Community Events and Spirit 

Last call to get your application in: Attention Dekalb County Schools (Teachers and/or parents can call): The Dekalb County Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. has money for YOU! If your school has a project which beautifies its grounds, sets up and continues a garden of any kind, or does any sort of ecological or environmental education for its students, you may be eligible for $200 (the minimum) grant money through a Federation program called "The B.E.E. Grant" and all it takes is a phone call to learn more. Call Judy Lemoine, the Chair of the B.E.E. Committee, at her home: 770-934-8541. If you leave a message and your number, your call will be returned within a day. They want your school! Applications are being accepted now. The deadline is September. For Dekalb County public schools only! 

Smoke Rise Community Gardens has one space left (out of 56!) in the garden. Interested in growing your own veggies? Contact Doug Reynics at [email protected] 

Monday, August 11th Vegetable Gardening 7:30PM 
Are you happy with your vegetable garden results this year? Looking for new perspectives and alternative practices? Scott Arrington will be the featured speaker at the regular monthly meeting of Mountain Shadow Garden Club (MSGC) at Eastminster Presbyterian Church. His program will address practical techniques for the backyard gardener to improve food crop nutrient density by implementing nature-friendly methods and amendments. These are designed to enhance beneficial biology and to reconnect with small-scale, responsible agriculture. Mr. Arrington has several years of experience with bio-friendly techniques in urban food gardens and small scale farm environments in Decatur, the Atlanta metro area, and other settings. He says the food is only as good as the health of the soil and growing practices which produce the food. Refreshments and socializing follow the program. MGSC is open to men and women of all ages who enjoy learning about a wide range of gardening subjects. Free. For more information or for directions, call club president, Jeff Raines, at 404-641-8633. 

Saturday October 4th 6th Annual Rivers Alive 9AM – Noon 
After a one-year hiatus, TCA’s annual River Alive event is back on! They will be cleaning the South Fork of Peachtree Creek in two locations: at its intersection with Cowan Road and its intersection with Sarr Parkway. Free food & live music. Volunteer to help protect our resources! Heavy rain date is Saturday October 11th. Please register by August 31st. For more info email Beth Ganga at [email protected] 

Other Backyard Nature Events 

Sunday August 24th Sunday in the Garden Concert at Woodlands Garden 2-4 PM
 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. Free concert featuring Blackfoot Daisy. 932 Scott Blvd. Decatur, GA 30030 

Monday August 25th Honey Bees: Why Should We Care? 6PM
Join the Dekalb Master Gardener Association for this very relevant talk on honey bees. Cindy Hodges will give a brief background of honey bees, followed by what they are used for besides pollination. She will then cover the problems we are having with pollinator decline, as well as what people can do to help them. She will bring an observation hive so you can see bees up close-- very close! She may bring samples of honey, which could be purchased after the meeting off of the library property. Cindy is a native of Atlanta, a graduate of Emory University, and a Master Beekeeper. Her husband helps her maintain about 50 hives located from the Hyatt Regency downtown to the Dahlonega mountains. Most of their colonies are in Dunwoody and Decatur. She is in her second year of being President of Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association.  In 2012 Cindy was awarded the honor of Georgia Beekeeper of the Year. Northlake Library, 3772 Lavista Rd Tucker, GA 30084 .Free. 

Sunday September 21st The Wilderness Act Performance Series at Woodlands Garden 2-4PM 
The Wilderness Act Performance Series is a musical and artistic celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Through the commissioning of new music and art, this performance series builds public appreciation of the Wilderness Act’s impact on natural and cultural preservation. Woodlands is one of the five venues chosen to host this special event. Musicians from the Chamber Cartel will perform their original compositions, their poet in residence (Stephen Wing) will read his work and their visual artist will unveil a display that will remain in the garden for a month. 

Just found out about another park in our area - Frazier-Rowe Park at 2886 Lavista Road to the side of Sprig restaurant. They have a wonderful group of volunteers who have only been working on the area for 18 months. There’s a great spring fed stream and a meandering trail that goes through the 6 acres. 

Festivals continue at Gibbs Garden throughout the summer. In August you can experience the Crape Myrtle, Daylily, Water lily, Hydrangea, Rose, Fern Dell and Azalea festivals. They have extended their Saturday hours until 8:30PM during August. 1987 Gibbs Drive, Ballground, GA 30107 (770-893-1881) 

Free walking tours of the Atlanta Beltline Arboretum every Friday and Saturday at 10am. Register here on the 20th of every month for the following month’s walking tours. 

Gardening, Etc. 

Do you compost? If not, check out the following reasons why it’s a good idea. 
• It can be a good alternative to fertilizer.
• It conserves our landfill space. 
• It’s an easy way to get rid of our kitchen and garden refuse. 
• It puts nutrients back into the soil thereby improving plant quality and growth. 
• When used with our red clay, it helps to break it down and loosen the soil. 
• It can be used as mulch which in turn can help with weed control. 
• It’s great for growing organic vegetables and herbs. 
• It may help to instill in our children a sense of environmental stewardship. Get them involved a so that they can discover that they can make a difference and have a positive effect on our environment.  

What’s the first step in composting? Prepare a compost bin. You can buy a compost bin or make one out of wire or wood. Check out for some specifics in making a bin. There are four important things to remember about composting: 
• You need to turn the pile several times a month to provide aeration and speed up the decomposition process. 
• Keep your compost pile moist which helps to break down the matter. 
• Chop up large matter. It will decompose quicker. Go over leaves with the lawn mower before putting them in. Use a shredder, if available, for larger twigs. 
• Keep a good nitrogen/carbon ratio. If using a lot of straw or sawdust (which decomposes slowly) balance with a good mix of leaves and grass, chicken manure, etc. 

What can you compost? Leaves, grass clippings, bark, plant trimmings from your yard; from your kitchen: egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit waste, peanut shells, vegetable scraps (meat, whole eggs, fats, fish, dairy products can be used but they may attract rodents). Other – wood ash, shredded cardboard, shredded newspaper (keep to less that 10%). To keep it organic, don’t use plants or grasses that have been treated with pesticides. Other materials to avoid include: colored paper, diseased plants, pet droppings, and inorganic materials such as glass, aluminum foil, plastics and metal. Try it and in a few weeks you’ll have dark, rich compost that can help everything you grow. 

We’ve had many customers talking about the snakes that they have seen this summer. We have over 50 species of snakes native to Georgia and only three in Atlanta that are poisonous. Remember most all of the snakes we see in our area are harmless and they help to keep our rodent population in check. The copperhead, the cottonmouth and the rattlesnake are the exceptions. Have a field guide or book handy to help identify those you see.  The best way to keep snakes out of your yard is to remove habitats that they are attracted to such as woodpiles, brush and rock piles. 

 The theme for this year’s National Honey Bee Day (August 16th) is “Sustainable Gardening Begins with Honey Bees”. 
There has been quite a bit in the news about the importance of the honey bees and how vital they are in our environment. 
  •There are three types of bees in the hive – Queen, Worker and Drone. The Queen is an adult, mated female and is usually the mother of most, if not all, the bees in the hive. Worker honey bees are all females. Workers gather pollen into the pollen baskets on their back legs, to carry back to the hive where it is used as food for the developing brood. Pollen carried on their bodies may be carried to another flower where a small portion can rub off onto the pistil, resulting in cross pollination. Males (drones) one function in the hive is for mating with the queen and continuing the propagation of the hive. The males do not have a stinger and they are kicked out of the hive in the fall to reserve resources.
• Honey bees are very clean! They want their hive (which they made themselves, hexagon by hexagon) to be immaculately clean. If something dirties their hive, they will immediately get it out. Bees will also make sure that when their time comes, they will die outside the hive. 
• Honeybees never sleep! 
• Honeybees are responsible for pollinating approximately 80% of all fruit, vegetables and seed crops in the U.S. 
• Honeybees fly at 15 miles per hour and their wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz. 
• Honeybees are the only bees that die after they sting. 
• Bees communicate with each other by dancing and by using pheromones (scents). 
• Honeybees are the only insects that produce food for humans. It is also the only food that never goes bad! Its sugar content is too high. Edible honey was found in King Tut’s tomb! 
Want to learn more about the honey bees? Check out the DMGA program on August 25th (under Other Backyard Nature Events). 

Opportunities in the garden for August:
Enjoy your gardens. Pick some flowers to place around the house. Dine on your summer vegetables and freeze or can the ones you can’t use now – or share. 

•Outdoor pots can dry out quickly in the heat. Make sure you’re saturating the soil. 
• Prepare your garden soil for the fall plantings. Make sure you clean up any debris including diseased plants. You can chop up your summer vegetable garden with your lawn mower and add them back into the soil with your tiller. Mix in some compost or fertilizer. 
• Start your fall and winter seeds such as beets, lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots, cauliflower, arugula, broccoli, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, collards, turnips, and onions. (We have Botanical Interest seeds in stock with more coming soon.) To get them through the rest of the heat of summer, you can plant the seeds in good potting mix in containers or flats and then transplant them in September. Calculate your planting dates. Average first date if frost in Atlanta is mid November. Count the number of days of maturity plus 18 days for the harvest of the crop. And, don’t forget to plant your perennial seeds now such as coreopsis, larkspur, alyssum, hollyhock, foxglove, butterfly flower, bachelor’s button, delphinium, echinacea, hyssop lavender, and gaura for a beautiful display next spring and summer. Make sure you keep your seedlings watered. 
• Plant fall vegetable/flower containers to have for easy access to the kitchen and for extra fall color. You might use a mix of kale or lettuces or beets with chrysanthemums, red leaf lettuce or mustard with broccoli and throw in some herbs such as parsley or cilantro. Or mix violas in with your vegetables. Fertilize when you plant. 
• Collect seeds from your vegetables and perennials such as hosta and iris for planting or sharing next spring. 
• Flowers last longer in the vase if you pick them in the morning. 
• Spring flowering perennials can be divided now. Do this in the cooler part of the day and make sure you water the transplants well. Dividing overgrown plants helps to keep them vigorous and blooming. You know it’s time to do it if the center of the plant is dying out, if the plant has gotten too big for its space and if the flowers have become smaller or non-existent. 
 • Cut back annuals by half, fertilize and water to get fall blooms. They’ll look a lot better! 
• Plant fall blooming bulbs such as fall crocus. 
• Are your backyard birds devouring the seeds from your sunflowers? Wrap the heads in cheesecloth. When the back has turned brown or the petals start to lose their color, they are ready to harvest. Wash the seeds thoroughly and allow them to dry before eating. 
• Weeding, of course, is an activity we can do every month. Remember that the weeds compete with our plants for moisture and nutrition. 


It’s a busy time of year for our backyard birds. Many are on their second or third broods. Many birds have started to migrate – some are starting to arrive in Atlanta (cedar waxwing, some warblers) while others are getting ready to leave in the next few weeks. 

Try some different types of food to bring some different birds to your feeders. Fruit such as orange halves, grapes, cherries and apples will attract red bellied woodpeckers, brown thrashers, rose breasted grosbeaks, bluebirds, cedar waxwings, house finch and towhees. 

Don’t forget to change your hummingbird nectar out every 2-3 days – more often if it is very hot or in direct sun all day. 

Many birds are starting to molt. It’s not unusual this time of year (late summer) to see birds such as cardinals, blue jays and almost all of the small songbirds go through a complete molt which is the process of feather replacement. The American Goldfinch will go from bright yellow to a drab brown in 6 to 8 weeks. As new feathers begin to grow in, they push out and replace the feathers that have worn out. Sometimes birds are even are without a tail as the feathers grow back in. Most birds molt once or twice a year in order to stay warm, dry and airborne. So if you see a baldheaded cardinal, he’s just preparing for a new fall ‘look’. 

There have been quite a few people in our area seeking the Atlanta Audubon Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary certification recently. Congratulations to all of those who have been certified. 

Bird of the Month:Yellow-breasted Chat

• The Yellow-breasted Chats are summer residents of Georgia. They are large wood warblers with a bright yellow chest and throat and a wingspan of up to 10.6”. The back is olive-green and they have a white belly and undertail. They have a long tail and large white eye rings. 
• Their habitat is dense shrubs and brush. You may hear them more often than see them. 
• The female builds the cup-shaped nest out of grass, leaves, and bark and lines it with softer materials such as pine needles, hair and finer grass and hides it deep in a bush only a few feet off the ground. 
• The Yellow-breasted Chats have 2 broods a year with 3-6 white speckled eggs. Incubation time is 11 to 12 days and the chicks fledge 8 to 11 days later. 
• Their diet is a mix of insects (such as grasshoppers, bugs, beetles, bees, wasps, ants) and fruit. They may hold onto their food with one foot while eating. 
• They often sing at night long. Their song is a mixture of cackles, croaks, whistles and hoots. They may mimic the calls of other birds. 
• The Yellow-breasted Chat was first described by Carl Linnaeus (Swedish botanist) in 1758.  

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). 

Wednesday August 6th Cochran Shoals, CRNRA 7:30AM
Birding Focus: Breeding residents, including waterfowl, raptors, sparrows, woodpeckers, and warblers. This walk is suitable for adults and children over 14 years of age. Please do not bring your dog. 

Wednesday August 20th Reynolds Nature Preserve 8AM
Birding Focus: Woodland birds such as Pileated Woodpecker, Barred Owl, Wood Thrush, and Acadian Flycatcher. The trail is very wide, flat, and is less than 2 miles round trip. It passes through mature deciduous forest and along several ponds. 

Saturday August 23rd Big Creek Greenway - Fowler Park 7:30AM
Birding Focus: This floodplain woodland snakes through an increasingly urbanized area of Atlanta metro's northern suburbs. It provides an important corridor for migrant songbirds, especially during fall migration. We'll be looking for early southbound migrants including Canada, Cerulean, and Chestnut-sided Warblers and possibly some of the less common Empidonax flycatchers which are most numerous in August and September. The trail is flat and walking is easy. 

Saturday August 30th Panola Mountain 8AM 
Birding Focus: Breeding residents of wetlands & forest, including warblers, sparrows, blackbirds, raptors, waterfowl, waders, and shorebirds. 

Saturday August 30th Hard Labor Creek State Park 2PM
Birding Focus: Hard Labor Creek is the 2nd largest GA State Park. It boasts a variety of habitats and has a history of birds like Loggerhead Shrikes, American Kestrels, and a variety of waterfowl on Lake Rutledge. We'll look for breeding residents, including woodland birds, waterfowl, and raptors. 

Saturday September 6th Piedmont Park 8AM 
Birding Focus: Breeding birds and permanent 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!

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