The Garden Enthusiast- Backyard Nature Station Update July 2014 

Table of Contents 

 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 
 Master Naturalist Class 
 July to Do List 
 Demystifying Fertilizers 
 Water-Wise Gardening 
 Opportunities in the Garden for July 
 Bird of the Month: American Robin 
 Audubon Field Trips 

Fellow Backyard Nature Lovers, 

Happy 4th of July! Please have a safe one! We will be closed on Friday the 4th and reopen Saturday morning the 5th at 10am. 

It’s National Blueberry Month. Think about a blueberry tart with almond crust or maybe a summer trifle with blueberries, strawberries layered with whipped cream (or yogurt) for a red, white & blue dessert. 

Update on the Children’s Garden: We are moving ahead but the summer heat has slowed me down! The fence posts and supports are up, more weeds, rock and debris are out. We hope to have the fence completed in the next two weeks and then the raised beds will begin to follow. 

Are you interested in becoming a Master Gardener? You’ll learn a lot about a variety of gardening topics and you’ll meet some good people in the process. 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. 


I appreciate your newsletter! I learn so much by reading it. I wanted to ask you about my hydrangeas. I cut them back months ago but only cut them back to where I thought I saw buds. Now, brown stems without leaves are poking out the top of my bushes-should I cut these back or wait to see if they bud. I only have one blooming now and it is from the bottom of the bush which is the green leafy part. Appreciate your help! Lisa R 

Linda, I took time to read the entire newsletter this morning, I really enjoyed it! The updates on local businesses is helpful, community events great to know about and then of course your store updates, gardening community calendar and your personal adventures in the natural world of late is always fun to read. I don't always take the time to read it through, but do love what you are doing for Tucker! Thanks so much, Kathy P 

Do you carry Fairy doors? Didn't see them on your site. Please tell me price range. Thanks. Maria von D Maria, We just got some in! 

You have the best newsletter ever! Thank you for taking the time to write such an informative and fun community tool! Dana P - New to Tucker, New To Georgia, and Loving It! 

This was the best newsletter ever--thank you so much for your hard work! I read every word and printed out some of it to stick on my bulletin board! Debbie G 

  As we discussed yesterday. Will be interesting to see what you find. Marcus F 
Pink-Striped Oakworm – This was identified by Karen Angel & Dawn Hines from the Tucker Butterfly Garden. 

  Red Shouldered Hawk looking for squirrels in local Tucker residents backyard!! Photo credits to Ed Kuzela


Birding: bird houses and feeders by Jim Jackson, log cabin feeders by Stanley Ivy, bird baths, feeders 

Garden Art: weather vanes, sundials and stands, thermometers, kinetic spinners, statuary, rock candles by Freda Wilson, garden flag stands, welcome signs 

Tool Shed: back in stock – Liquid Fence (the best for keeping the deer from munching on your plants!) 

Fairy Garden: fairies, butterfly house, aviary, houses, mailboxes, Maypoles, songbird tree, fire pit, fairy bench w/pillow, tree stump table & chairs, fairy door, gypsy wagon, fairy mouse with saddle, fairy pond w/ pump, moss, troll bridge, mini birdbath, stone arch, mushroom tavern, covered bridge, and twig fence Miscellaneous: insulated cups 


Bring in your best photo of your birds or gardens for our annual photo contest. We are accepting photos until 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 

A belated Happy 121st Anniversary to Tucker, GA founded in June 25, 1892. The Tucker Historical Society presented a custom baked creation (from Sweet Dee’s) to the entire staff of the Tucker Post office on June 25th in celebration of the first post office opening on that date in 1892.

  Don't forget to order your custom patriotic cake or cookies for your 4th of July celebration from Sweet Dee's Bakeshop. Pickups will be on Thursday, July 3rd as we will be closed on July 4th. Happy 4th everyone! 

 The Custom Frame Shop will be opening at their new location on July 15th. The address is 4195 Fellowship Road (at the corner of 1st Avenue & Fellowship) Kelly and Jason are adding a nice mixture of art and antiques to their new gallery area and also expanding their picture frame moulding selection. Stop by and see them- they are excited to share their cool new shop with everyone! 

SUMMER CAMPS are in full swing at Main Street School of Art and Music! Each week is different to keep the fun going all summer long! To learn more call 770-938-7880 or visit: (2323 Main St.)

Luxe Nail Bar is finishing up with the final touches on painting, etc. Should be open soon… 

Saturday July 12th 5 pm Tucker Cruise-In 
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. 

Saturday July 19th 150th Civil War Anniversary Commemoration at Browning Courthouse 10am – 3pm 
In addition to viewing archives and collections inside and outside the building, scheduled guest speakers will also be on hand to share their stories including Tucker Historical Society members, Mary Bolton and her brother Paul Thomas, descendants of the early Browning family; Fran Franz portraying Miss Mary Gay Decatur as she shares her stories of helping the Confederate soldiers and saving her Decatur home during Union occupation; and Gregory Bailey, Deacon and Community Service Director of Salem Missionary Baptist Church will share his story of discovering his family’s slave roots in Lilburn. Civil War enthusiast Frank Russell will be on hand in uniform and will be bringing a canon (non-firing) as well as other interesting period items. The Tucker Civic Association plans to have related historical activities for kids of all ages, information tables for Tucker community groups and refreshments. Come learn about Tucker history and enjoy the day! 

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

Community Events and Spirit 

Reminder - There's still time 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! 

Other Backyard Nature Events 

Saturday July 12th Georgia Iris Society Meeting 2PM 
Northlake Barbara Loar library at 3773 Lavista Rd Former GIS President and owner of Kissing Tree Iris & Daylily Farm, Gerald Johnson, will show us how to properly divide and replant iris. Free. For more information contact Kathy Blackwell, 678 583 8603. 

Sunday, July 27th Sunday in the Garden, Woodlands Garden, 2-4 PM 
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. Free concert featuring Danny Feig-Sandoval and Friends. Festivals continue at Gibbs Garden throughout the summers. In July you can experience the Crape Myrtle, Daylily, Water lily, Hydrangea, Rose, Fern Dell and Azalea festivals. 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. 

The last session of the Georgia Master Naturalist Program at Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville was on Butterflies in Your World presented by Rosalie Jensen and Mike Saunders, Master Naturalists and lifetime Master Gardeners. They shared beautiful photographs of native butterflies and talked about how to attract them including which plants to use for host plants and which to use for nectar according to which butterflies you wanted to attract. Butterfly weed will attract Tiger Swallowtails, Black Swallowtails, Red Admirals, and Sulfur butterflies. Milkweed is the host plant for Monarch butterflies. 

Demystifying Fertilizers 

Regular fertilizing and correct watering makes for larger, fuller, healthier plants. What should you use? When should you fertilize? Read on… 

What do the three numbers and letters (NPK) mean? You’ll see this on all of your fertilizers – organic or chemical. The numbers represent the ratio of the macro-nutrients used by plants: N (Nitrogen), P (Phosphorous), and K (Potassium). Nitrogen promotes growth of the leaves, phosphorous or phosphate encourages healthy root growth, flower and fruit development and potassium promotes the overall health of the plant by building disease resistance. The higher the number the more concentrated the macro-nutrient is. If the number is 0, then the fertilizer contains none of that macro-nutrient. A 20-20-20 fertilizer has twice as much concentration of NPK as a 10-10-10. A 5-5-25 has 4 times more potassium than nitrogen or phosphorous. 

In general you would use a fertilizer higher in nitrogen and low phosphorous such as a 20-10-15. Knowing the NPK values though can help you pick out which fertilizer is best for the plants that you are growing. If you’re growing leafy vegetables or foliage house plants, you want a higher nitrogen number to encourage the leafy growth. If you’re growing flowers, you may want a high phosphorous number to encourage more blooms. 

Apply the fertilizer according to the label directions. Remember, that more is not better in this situation because you can harm the plants if you over fertilize. 

There are three different types of fertilizers: water soluble, slow release, and controlled or time release. Water soluble, usually the least expensive, is mixed with water and applied every 7-14 days when you water. Look for a higher nitrogen, lower phosphorous and Potassium that is equal to or less than Nitrogen such as 20-10-15. Slow release is applied less often as it slowly releases the nutrients over a period of months depending on soil temperatures. Microbes (bacteria) in the soil determine how much is released at one time and they are more active at warm temperatures. Controlled release is controlled by the temperature of the soil (not the bacteria) and is more exact and expensive than the others. It can last from 2 months to more than a year depending on the product. Choose the one you need based on the growing season of the plants that you are fertilizing (i.e. annuals don’t need a fertilizer that lasts for a year). 

When planting, mix the fertilizer directly into the bottom of the hole with the soil. Roots can be harmed by direct contact with slow release fertilizer. If you’re applying to an already established plant, follow directions as how to apply (top dress). Plants only need fertilizer when they are actively growing. 
Generally it is easier to use a slow or time released fertilizer and you’ll only have to do it once or twice per year. Occasionally, you may want to supplement with a water soluble application such as for heavy feeders in containers or if we have another very rainy summer. The boost from a water soluble application will help the plants bounce back. 

Don’t believe fertilizer makes a difference? Conduct your own experiment. Fertilize one plant and just water the other one. You should see a difference in a couple of weeks. 

Water-Wise Gardening 
Last summer we didn’t need to worry about drought like we have in the past. It seemed like it rained every day. However, water is a precious resource and, if each of us could save a little, we could all make a big difference. Here’s a few ways to minimize water consumption and save on your water bills.
 • Install rain barrels to catch your rain water. From the average roof (1000sf) about 600 gallons can be collected from every inch of rain that falls. Put a spigot at the bottom of your rain barrel so you can hook up your garden hose. 
• Water deeply and less often to encourage deep root growth. Shallow watering encourages shallow root growth which is more susceptible to problems during drought. 
• Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to get water directly to where it is needed – the roots. 
• Fix leaky faucets and replace cracked hoses. One drop of water per second can add up to more than eight gallons/day which adds to your water bill and provides no benefit.  •Water in the morning before 10am or late afternoon. More water is lost from evaporation when watering in the heat of the day. 
• Mulch – it conserves moisture in the soil. 2” of mulch will help reduce water loss by 20% and lowers the top soil temperature which slows the loss of water. It also helps control weeds which compete for moisture. 
• Choose the best plants for your garden. Natives can be a good choice because they have good root systems that help them survive dry conditions. As an added plus, plants native to our area also provide the best vegetation for our wildlife and may support up to 50% more species than a non-native plant garden. Natives require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. 
• Have a small garden area you haven’t planted? Sow a packet of Water-Wise Mix. It covers 250sf. 

 Next month: composting 

Opportunities in the garden for July: 
It’s hot and humid so do your garden chores early and stay hydrated! 
• Regularly remove faded flowers which will encourage new blooms. 
•Pick tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and okra frequently. If you leave ripe vegetables on the vine, it stops bloom production. 
• Plant a second crop of tomatoes for harvest in early fall. To prevent growth cracks around the stem end of the tomato, make sure the soil is consistently moist and mulch the plants. 
• Plant marigold and dwarf sunflower seeds for a late summer /early fall display of color. 
• Interspersing flowers such as zinnias with your vegetables attracts pollinators and beneficial insects. 
• Fertilize your azaleas by the end of the month if you haven’t done it yet. 
• Fertilize your flower beds to keep them growing and healthy looking. 
• Cut back basil, oregano, and mint to half their size to produce more leaves and keep them from producing seed. 
• When mowing grass that is in the shade, keep it ½ -1” taller than the rest. It needs more leaf surface to benefit from the sun. • Having a tree cut down? Use the chips to mulch. 
• Keep you garden and lawn adequately watered. Water in the early morning or early evening. You might try using soaker hoses for your vegetable or flower beds. Water only what you need to. Make sure your sprinklers are not watering the street or your driveway! 
• Fertilize houseplants. 
• Going on vacation? Add a Plant Nanny to your houseplants to keep them watered while you’re away. The terra cotta slowly releases the water as the plant needs it. 


July is here and the temperature is climbing. Hopefully, you have your bird baths out and full of clean water. Our backyard friends really need it both for drinking and bathing. 

Change the water often and clean out your birdbaths with Birdhouse and Feeder cleaner/Birdfeeder cleaner or use a nine to one bleach solution. Rinse thoroughly. You can keep your birdbaths clean and safe between cleanings by adding Microbe-Lift Birdbath Clear. This all-natural additive takes advantage of bio-enzymatic activity to keep water free of organic debris that can cloud the water. It also keeps the bowl free of stains, mineral deposits, and scum. 

Moving water attracts birds and keeps mosquito larvae from hatching. Try using a Water Wiggler or a Copper Dripper

Hummingbird activity at the feeders should start picking up soon. Make sure your nectar is fresh. Hummingbird bottle feeders will sometimes leak if in direct sunlight because the air trapped in the top of the bottle expands and pushes the nectar out. Placing out of direct sun will help to prevent this and keep the solution from spoiling as quickly. 

We’ve had several people come in and ask about using suet during the summer months. We use suet year round. It can be a great source of protein during the nesting periods and we do carry no melt suet for the hot summer months. 

Check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for these two interesting birding ID programs: Bird Song Hero at and birdsnap ( 

Bird of the Month: American Robin

Photo taken by Tucker resident, Ed Kuzela 

 • The American Robin, a symbol of spring, is a year-round resident in Georgia. They are large gray songbirds ranging from 9-11 inches with orange/rusty colored breasts. The head and tail are generally black. They have a white eye-ring and yellow bills. 
• They generally nest in tree cavities but their nests may be found under eaves or on outdoor light structures. The female builds the cup-shaped nest out of grass, twigs, paper, and feathers and then reinforces the inside with mud and then a layer of soft materials. 
• The American Robin has 1 to 3 broods a year (usually between April and July) with 3-5 blue or blue-green eggs each time. Incubation time is 12-14 days and the chicks leave the nest about two weeks later. 
• Their diet is a mix of invertebrates such as earthworms, caterpillars, grasshoppers, grubs and fruit and berries. It’s common to see them on lawns with their heads tilted to one side. They are susceptible to pesticide poisoning since they hunt for worms largely on lawns. They may eat mealworms and suet. 
• They can be very territorial and may be one of the birds who ‘fights’ its reflection in windows. 
• Their average lifespan is only 2 years with only about 25% living the first year. Their primary predators are hawks, owls, cats and larger snakes such as the rat snake. 
• They may sing all night long and are certainly one of the first birds you’ll hear in the morning - link to listen to bird calls

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). 

Saturday July 5th Field Trip: Piedmont Park 8AM 
Birding Focus: Migratory, permanent & winter residents. All levels welcome. Excellent for beginning birders or those desiring gentle terrain. 

Saturday July 12th Noonday Creek 8AM
Birding Focus: Breeders and residents in wetland and woodland habitats. Likely species include Great Blue Heron, woodpeckers, thrushes, warblers, and vireos. Any level of skill is welcome. 

Saturday July 12th Panola Mountain 2:30PM 
Birding Focus: Breeding residents of wetlands & forest, including warblers, sparrows, blackbirds, raptors, waterfowl, waders, and shorebirds. 

Wednesday July 16th Murphey Candler Park 7:30AM 
Birding Focus: Three main habitats (lake, wetlands, mixed woods) provide good species diversity. We'll look for resident birds, including waterfowl, shorebirds, and passerines. The site is also reliable for turtles. This walk is suitable for adults and children over 14 years of age. Please do not bring your dog. This site can be especially good for beginning birders. 

*Saturday July 19th Fernbank Forest 7:30AM 
Birding Focus: Join a Neighborhood Nestwatch scientist and discover more about the feathered inhabitants of Fernbank Forest, both permanent residents and visitors. This program is excellent for beginning birders or those desiring gentle terrain. All ages are welcome. Program is held rain or shine, but may be cancelled in cases of severe weather. We recommend participants bring binoculars, field guides and water with them. Once the walk begins, participants must remain with the group for the duration of the program. Advance reservations are required at 404.929.6400. 

Saturday July 26th 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 August 2nd Piedmont Park 8AM 
Birding Focus: Breeding birds and permanent residents. All levels welcome. Excellent for beginning birders or those desiring gentle terrain. 

Saturday August 2nd Noonday Creek 8AM
Birding Focus: Breeders and residents in wetland and woodland habitats. Likely species include Great Blue Heron, woodpeckers, thrushes, warblers, and vireos. Any level of skill is welcome. 

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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