The Garden Enthusiast- Backyard Nature Station Update June 2014 

 Fellow Backyard Nature Lovers, 

   It’s that time of year when the temperatures start rising, you smell grass from the freshly mown lawns, and the smoke and aromas from the grills every evening. I’m glad this is one thing that has not changed since my childhood days in Decatur. Enjoy! 

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 16th! 
 You know your dad best, so give him a gift that’s as unique as he is. With many products worthy of Dad’s approval throughout the store, you’ll find the perfect one that really celebrates him. Whether you’re looking for sentimental or fun, shop our selection. And, to help you out even more, we’ve even included some of our favorites below! Regardless of what type of gift you may give him, we hope you’re able to spend time with your Dad and let him know how special he is.

Droll Yankee Flipper               Kombi Shovel                             Abby Windchime

Elizabeth Bird was the winner of our Mother’s Day basket. Congratulations Elizabeth! 

Update on the Children’s Garden: We are slowly moving ahead. The area is now almost weed free – still a few stubborn spots. Thank you to my husband, John and my grandchildren, Devon, Sage and Cameron, for their help. We hope to have the fence up in the next couple of weeks and then will start putting in the raised beds. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement. Want to hear from us as we progress on this project? Like us on Facebook and get updates.


From Stan L: Beautiful trees from around the world: Hard to realize these are real. Mother Nature is truly amazing.

From Berna S: Do you have the Atlas brand of garden gloves in stock in your store? They are the best but am having a hard time finding them. Answer: We do have the Atlas gloves in stock and carry them year round. 


Birding: Droll Yankee tube feeders 
Garden Art
: flags, mailbox wraps, yards designs, chimes, rock candles, spinners; arriving this month -weather vanes, sundials and stands, thermometers, thermometer/clock combo   

Tool shed: loppers and ratchet pruners 

 Light up planetarium, reversible hats 

Miscellaneous: Notecards, hats


 A special thanks to all who came out to help us celebrate our 3rd Anniversary! In some ways it feels like we just opened yesterday! Bird Feeder Cleaner Day was a BIG hit & we look forward to doing it again in the future! 

National Fairy Gardening Day is Tuesday, June 24thCome celebrate with us. We will have fairy snacks and food. We’ll have a fairy garden competition. Bring your fairy garden in on Monday June 23rd; judging will be on the 24th. Children (and adults!) can wear their fairy wings/costumes, too. Weather permitting we’ll hear a fairy tale in the Children’s Garden at 11AM. If not, it will be told in the classroom. Children will get a chance to make a fairy wand. We’ll also have some new miniatures. Get 15% off all fairy gardening packages on June 24th. Make your reservations now (404-474-7072).

 Our annual photo contest is coming up. Last year we expanded our contest from birds to include gardens but, alas, we only received birding pictures (but some great ones!). This year, get your camera out and start taking your photos of anything backyard nature related. Select the best one and bring it in by August 9th. Voting by our customers will be from August 11th through August 23rd. The winners will be announced on August 25th.


 Summer Special at Sweet Dee’s! Starting Tuesday, This summer get a free cup of their new Batdorf & Bronson coffee with every purchase Tuesday through Friday from 8am – 9am. And, don’t forget Dad on Father’s Day, June 15th. 770-696-4461 

 Green Flash Brewing Company will be hosting a tap takeover Thursday June 19th from 6-8PM. Come try some excellent West Coast beer and grab some free stuff! It’s always Growler Time in Tucker GA! 2323 Main Street Suite A1 

No, the Custom Frame Shop is not closing. They are just moving to their new location at First Avenue and (4195) Fellowship Road. The private parking lot is on First Ave. They hope to have the new shop up and running by early July. Business will continue at the Main Street location until then. 

 Eric’s Fit Lab is moving once more and expanding his space into where My Fair Lady used to be in Browning Village. 

 Luxe Nail Bar hopes to get through their final county permitting soon in order to be open in the next few weeks. They’ll be offering nail service, waxings, and eyelash extensions. 

Saturday June 14th Tucker Cruise-In 5PM – 8:30PM 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. 

Thursdays in June Tucker Farmer's Market 4 - 8 PM 


 The Tucker Historical Society Garden Tour was a hit again this year. Brittany and I once again took turns to see the gardens. Although I wasn’t able to make all of them, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with each of the ones I did visit. The first garden I toured was Barbara and Dave Morris’. They had some great garden art including a trumpet water fountain. They also share their garden with their neighbors by leaving clippers out for them to take blooms or cuttings. Next was Donna & Tom Cole’s garden. Behind a wall of Leyland Cypress was a wonderful garden with a water feature, perennial beds, vegetable patch and grape arbors and many birdhouses! Nancy & Tom Ulbricht’s garden is a delight of color, texture, variety, and whimsy. There were many sitting areas to enjoy the different views of the garden. Bill Bruer’s garden was my last stop. Huge planters and sculptures surrounded the salt water pool area. Mammoth hanging planters added a special touch to this relaxing outdoor space. I was unable to return to Caroline & Darryl Riggins garden or the Tucker Butterfly Garden. However, I received feedback from many people that they through enjoyed both of them. Kudos to the gardeners for sharing their love of gardening with others! 

Christine and Doug Davis continue to open their garden to visitors at 4750 Westhampton Drive in Tucker. You don’t need to call, just park and stroll through. If you want an initial appreciation of this wonderful local treasure go to

They continue to look for potential scholarships! Don’t miss your opportunity! 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! 

 Monday June 9th Mountain Shadow Garden Club - Learn About Growing Ferns 7:30PM 
Eleanor Craig, who operates Fern Ridge Farms in Cedar Bluff, Alabama, is well known around the Atlanta area and the Southeast. She is frequently involved with horticultural shows, Master Gardener groups, and various clubs in the region. While she emphasizes perennial ferns, Eleanor grows and encourages a range of plants that provide interesting effects in use of colors, textures, and fronds. Her presentation will include discussion of shade, moisture, and soil requirements for best results. MSGC is open to men and women of all ages who enjoy learning more about diverse gardening topics. Refreshments and socializing follow the program. The location is Eastminster Presbyterian Church, at 5801 Hugh Howell Road, Stone Mountain, Georgia. Free. For more information or directions, call club president Jeff Raines at 404-641-8633. 

Thursday June 12th & 19th Smart Lunch, Smart Kid 4 - 8PM 
Tucker Farmer’s Market 
For the next “Give An Hour” event, TCA will be packing 400 lunches for this program. This initiative provides children who receive free or reduced-price lunches during the school year with access to healthy lunches during the summer. Donations that will be accepted during this time include: bottled water, 100% juice boxes, individually wrapped chips, pretzels, crackers or fruit (apples, applesauce, fruit cups, diced fruit or fruit rollups. Lunches will be assembled on Sunday June 22nd at the Tucker First United Methodist Activity Center. Email Marty Bryan at [email protected] for more info. 

Saturday July 19th Special Open House at Historic Browning Courthouse 10AM – 3PM 
The Tucker Historical Society will host this special event that will have some guest speakers to talk about various aspects of the war, local and family history. Fran Franz of Decatur will portray the colorful character of Mary Ann Harris Gay as she shares her antebellum memories of saving her home (the historic Mary Gay house) during the Union occupation in Decatur, writing poetry and her book “Life in Dixie during the War”, her heroic efforts to feed her fellow citizens of Decatur during the war and much more. The Browning Courthouse is the only militia courthouse of its kind remaining in the county. 


 Saturday June 7th Behind the Garden Gate 9AM – 3PM 
GFWC Lilburn Woman’s Club presents its debut tour of Lilburn gardens.  Eight gardens will be on the tour. Tickets: $20 For more information: 

 Saturday June 21st Daylily Society of Greater Atlanta & the Cobb County Daylily Society Daylily Show and Plant Sale 12PM – 4PM 
This 10th Annual event will be held at Cobb Galleria Center 

 Sunday June 29th Woodlands Sunday in the Garden Concert 2 - 4pm 
The Radio Ramblers  
932 Scott Blvd Decatur 30030 

 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.

 Festivals continue at Gibbs Garden throughout the summer. In June you can experience the 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. 


 On my continuing journey of taking the Georgia Master Naturalist Program at Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville, I’ve been to five more sessions. Our session on stream ecology included testing of one of the streams at Elachee for color, clarity, odor, trash, temperature, PH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and macroinvertebrates. We found Stonefly Nymphs, Mayfly Nymphs, Caddisflies, Gilled Snails, Crayfish, and Crane Flies. Most all of these are only seen in good streams. They are intolerant of pollution. Our next session was on Trees of Georgia. Bill Lott, Forest Manager, at UGA’s Thompson Mill Arboretum led us on a walk through another great nature resource. Did you know that there are ten pines native to Georgia and they each have their own distinctive pine cone? They are Eastern White, Loblolly, Longleaf, Pitch, Pond, Shortleaf, Slash, Spruce, Table Mountain, and Virginia. Our trip to Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee Watershed was, I think, on the last chilly day we had. It was cold on Lake Lanier! We tested the water – clear and good PH. We got to see a heron catching a fish and dropping it off in its nest for the babies. After Lake Lanier we went to the Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility. This was quite an eye opener. If you’ve never seen how water is recycled back to our environment, this may be a field trip you want to make. Rodney Stafford of the Mushroom Club of Georgia introduced us to “The Fascinating World of Fungi”. Georgia happens to be one of the best places in the world for mushroom hunting. Many mushrooms have medicinal properties. Lesson learned – NEVER EAT A WILD MUSHROOM WITHOUT AN ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION. He also said that all mushrooms should be cooked prior to consumption. Our last class in May was on the Reptiles of Georgia with Greg Greer. We discussed turtles, lizards and snakes. If you find a Box turtle in the middle of the road, the best thing you can do is take it to the side where it is traveling to and let it be on its way. One class is remaining on our naturalist journey. 

Pollinator Week is June 16-23rd. Take a stroll through your garden to see what plants that you have to attract pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths, some birds, bats, beetles). Don’t have any – think about adding a few! Remember pollinators help transfer pollen between flowers that leads to fertilization, seed and fruit production. That’s important because we depend on these plants for food, beverages, fibers, and medicines. And, they provide us with the beautiful flowers that grace our gardens and our tables. 

 Opportunities in the garden for June:

•Most plants can be planted now, but they will take more attention and care to survive.  Make sure you provide them with adequate water. Use soaker hoses when you can to conserve water. Water before 10AM to avoid evaporation. 
•Unless we have rain like we did last year, you’ll need to make sure that everything is getting enough water. 
•Having slug problems? Have you tried putting out a hollowed out half cantaloupe shell or putting beer out in a container? Check them every day and put the collected slugs in a bucket of soapy water. 
•Fertilize your outdoor houseplants regularly. Watering leeches out the nutrients. 
•Remember to pick your okra, squash and cucumbers regularly. A fully ripe fruit left hanging can halt the production of blooms. 
•Prune back your hydrangeas when the blooms have faded. This may give you more blooms this fall. 
•Deadhead blooms from your annuals and perennials in order to get more blooms. 
•Does your parsley or fennel have big green caterpillars? Leave them alone and you’ll have beautiful Swallowtail butterflies. Plant more for your own use! 
•It’s a great time to take cuttings from the fresh growth of many trees and shrubs. 
•Use Neem Oil or Insecticidal Soap to help keep insects under control. 
•Raise the mower blade up one notch and make sure the blade is sharp. Don’t mow when the grass is wet. 

 It’s mosquito time! Do mosquitoes ruin your outdoor time? What can you do? 
•First and foremost, remove their habitat – it is the most effective form of control. If you have any standing water, you need to get rid of it. This includes areas where cupped leaves may be holding just a little water, birdbaths without moving water, drainage ditches, creeks, ivy and other heavy groundcover. Walk through the yard with this in mind and see what you can eliminate.
•Put up a bat house. 
•Attract birds whose diet includes mosquitoes such as flycatchers, gnatcatchers, owls, warblers, chickadees, catbirds, mockingbirds, robins, finches, cardinals, wrens and woodpeckers. 
•Try putting containers of mosquito repelling plants around the areas that you use most frequently. Thyme has many health benefits that also include mosquito control. It is a perennial, so once you've got it started, you'll have it for years to come with proper care. 

 Thyme seeds are tiny, so they shouldn't be sown too deeply; 1/8" is plenty. Like any other shallow sown seed, keeping the soil moist throughout germination can be tricky. Try sowing the seeds into pre-moistened soil then cover the area or container with clear plastic wrap. As soon as you see green, remove the cover (this works for the rest of the seeds in this article, too) 

Catnip also has the ability to repel mosquitoes and is a perennial. Catnip seeds are very tiny. Scratch them gently into pre-moistened soil and keep moist. Be sure not to cover too deeply. Catnip does grow well in containers, although it will be a smaller plant. If you have cats, you may want to cover your plants with wire mesh to make sure there is plenty of plant left to deter mosquitoes. 

 Lime Basil has all the culinary acumen of standard basil with a distinct lime kick. This easy to grow annual is suited to almost any garden and is the ire of mosquitoes. It likes to grow in full sun but will tolerate as little as 4 hours of strong, direct sun a day. Lime basil is great for containers. A steady supply of moisture is necessary for peak performance. 
•Use products such as Ortho (works for about 6 hours) or Bayer (works for about a week), citronella products, Bite Lites, Dr. T’s Mosquito Repelling Granules. Use Mosquito Dunks or Granules for standing water. 
•Many companies are spraying for mosquitoes now. Ask what is in the products they are using. Will it kill all of your pollinators? Weigh the risks and benefits to make your decision. 

Container Gardening 

Container gardening is fun, easy, and provides almost instant gratification. It’s great for small spaces or to liven up larger spaces, hide an unsightly area, and to provide focal points of color. They don’t take as much time as in ground gardening, they can be moved around, and you can plant your vegetables and herbs in them, too. You can plant them close by on your patio, deck (surface or railing), balcony or porch for visual color, beauty, and enjoyment. If you’re just starting out, here’s some things to think about: 

•What to use? Lots of things can be used for container gardening such as an old wheel barrow, a drawer, a birdbath (but make sure you keep one with water for the birds!). Look around at what you have and think creatively. Just make sure whatever you use has good drainage holes. Pamela Crawford planters provide not only space at the top to plant but also on the sides which give a fuller look to the container. 
•Size - The bigger it is, the less often you’ll have to water it. Of course, they can get pretty heavy, too. You can use Packing Pearls that are reusable and let you use less soil. It can help to put the really heavy ones on pot caddies with casters. 
•Color – try monochromatic (shades of a single color), analogous colors (those that are next to each other on the color wheel such as yellow-orange, violet-red, blue-green), complimentary colors (colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel such as red and green, blue and orange, yellow & violet), or triad colors (three colors that are space equidistance on the color wheel such as red, yellow and blue). Use a color wheel to help when coordinating colors – or just go with what feels right to you. Hot colors such as red, orange and yellow draw your attention while cool colors such as blue, purple and pink are more calming. Think about where you’re going to place the containers as you decide on your colors. 
•Structure – Many people design their containers based on the thriller, filler and spiller concept. The thriller plants are typically the tallest in the container and may be in the middle or back according to how the container is viewed. They can offer drama and visually draw the eye. Fillers are more rounded and fill in around the thriller plant. Spillers trail over the side of the container and can offer an added burst of color or texture. 
•Foliage and texture - dark foliage can highlight light colors and provide drama and contrast; chartreuse and silver blend with colors. 
•Textures can vary from very fine to bold and can add a different dimension to your container planting. A mixture of both generally works best. 
•Planting – Start with a good (organic) container planting mix such as Happy Frog/Fox Farm. Use one with fertilizer already in the mix or add at the time of planting. If you want immediate results then place more plants in to fill the container up. For the long term, and if you’re patient – plant fewer plants and allow them to grow in. This will allow for better circulation and healthier plants and should last longer. 
•Watering – don’t overwater. Check the container (not just the surface soil) before watering. Overwatering can kill a plant just as under watering can. 
•Trimming – freshen the plants up as necessary to keep them looking good and not too leggy. This can encourage reblooming, too. 
•Fertilize – Use a slow release fertilizer. It will take the guess work out of when to fertilize. Follow the label directions on how often to use during the summer. If you're not using a slow release formula for summer feeding, use a 12-12-12 or 14-14-14 (balanced) mixed fertilizer. If you are not getting the blooms you want, you can try adding a liquid fertilizer once a month that has a high phosphorous(middle number) count. 
•Pests – There will probably be fewer problems with pests in your container garden. You can pick off any that you see or use Insecticidal Soap for control. 
•Experiment and have fun! 

 Next month: Demystifying fertilizers
Have you added mulch to your garden yet? Mulch helps to hold in the soil moisture and to keep the soil temperature moderated. It is also helps to block weeds and is a barrier between your vegetables and the bare ground which can help to prevent rot. The general suggestion for mulch is a 2-4” layer. Choices for mulch include compost, pine straw, wood bark, and leaves. 


 It’s hummer time although many of us haven’t seen too many of them yet. This is NORMAL! During May and June, the Ruby-throats are busy with nesting, feeding their young, and protecting their territory. Unless they are nesting close by, you won’t see them at the feeder much. In early July the males start to migrate and the first set of young are out on their own. You’ll start to see more activity then. Most females have their second brood in July. August and September become are busiest viewing months for these captivating creatures. 

Don’t forget to add an ant trap to your hummingbird feeders to keep the ants out and to provide an extra watering hole for your smaller birds. 

Q: Should we stop feeding the birds for the summer? Shouldn’t they be looking out for themselves now? 
A: We feed birds for two reasons: to keep them healthy when natural food sources aren’t present and to bring them closer so we can enjoy watching them. During the summer they are feeding their babies and can use the extra protein that seed and suet provide. And, if you enjoy bird watching, keep your feeders up year-round. It’s a busy time of year for our backyard birds. 

Many have already started their second broods. We have adults, fledglings, babies and eggs in the nest. What do you do if you find a baby bird? Click on the following resource from the Atlanta Audubon Society to help guide you: I Found a Baby Bird! If needed, call AWARE Wildlife Center (or another licensed wildlife rehabilitator) at 678-418-1111. 

Having problems with moisture buildup and mold in you feeders? Try Feeder Fresh which absorbs the moisture and helps to prevent mold. Also, available for hummingbird feeders – Feeder Fresh Nectar Defender. It’s an all natural product that protects the freshness of the nectar and stops spoilage. It will protect your nectar for weeks, and hummingbirds will enjoy fresh nectar every time they visit your feeder. One bottle can last an entire season. It contains no artificial dyes or preservatives. 

Bird of the Month: Barred Owl 

•The mottled brown and white Barred Owl is seen in Georgia year round (non-migratory). It is also known as the Hoot Owl because of its unique call. It has a large head with a distinctive pale face with dark rings around the dark brown eyes, and a yellow beak and yellow feet. The chest is a light color with dark horizontal barring. It does not have any ear tufts or horns. It has a 3 ½ foot wingspan and is about 20-24” in height. 
•They generally nest in tree cavities 20 -40 feet high and may take over old nesting sites of hawks and woodpeckers but may also use a simple nest box with a large hole. They sometimes reuse their old nests. 
•The Barred Owl has one brood per year with 2-4 eggs that are white without any markings. Incubation time is around 4 weeks and the young owls fledge in 4 to 5 weeks. The young may stay with their parents for several months after fledging. 
•Their food consists of mammals (voles, mice, chipmunks, rats, rabbits, squirrel), birds (such as woodpeckers, jays, and doves), fish, reptiles, and amphibians. They primarily hunt night but also may be seen hunting during the daytime as well. 
•They prefer mixed forests of large trees. They typically stay within a very small area. •Their primary predator is the Great Horned Owl. 
•The Barred Owl may sound like a dog barking and then may give an eight-hoot call that sounds like, “Who-cooks-for-you? Who-cooks-for-you?” 
•The oldest living Barred Owl in captivity was over 23 years old. Fossils of Barred Owls that are at least 11,000 years old have been dug up in Florida and Tennessee.  

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 June 7th Piedmont Park 8AM
Birding Focus: Migratory, permanent & winter residents. All levels welcome. Excellent for beginning birders or those desiring gentle terrain. Tuesday June 10th Panola Mountain 2PM Birding Focus: Breeding residents of wetlands & forest, including warblers, sparrows, blackbirds, raptors, waterfowl, waders, and shorebirds. 

Wednesday June 18th 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. 

Friday June 20th 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. 

Thursday June 26th Reynolds Nature Preserve 8AM
Birding Focus: Woodland birds such as Pileated Woodpecker, Barred Owl, Wood Thrush, and Acadian Flycatcher. Very wide, flat trail less than 2 miles round trip, through mature deciduous forest and along several ponds. 

Friday June 27th Heritage Park 8:30AM 
Birding Focus: Resident birds of the wetlands and woodlands. Heritage Park is a 105-acre nature preserve. The park's 1.7-mile walking trail has an elevated boardwalk over wetlands, travels through forests along Nickajack Creek, passes the ruins of Concord Woolen Mills, and is near the historic Concord Covered Bridge. Heritage Park is a soft surface walking trail, essentially flat with a short hilly area by the ruins. This is a good site for novice or beginning birders; families and children are welcome on this walk. 

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. 

Hope to see you soon,

Linda, Brittany, Jeremy, Jessica, & 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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