Green thumbs up
to animal enrichment -- bring some of the outdoors in to your
pets. Zookeepers know how important this is, and devote much effort
to introducing novelty into captive animals' lives. In our 23 years
working in gardens at the Detroit Zoo we've seen that tigers like
mint, apes enjoy flowers, wolverines play with cast-off antlers,
bison adore mulberry and snow monkeys perk up when they can clamber
around in the cut-down remains of a dead tree. The wild things we
call family appreciate the same kinds of diversion.
Fraxy examines every new thing that comes in the door and is
especially fond of scented greens. Yet we never know which way
she'll go. We recently gave her a choice between sumptuous just-pruned sprays of
falsecypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) and a bundle of
sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) with batt-able bangles.
She chose the grass.
Buster, on the other hand, is apparently not so appreciative
of Nature. We're told: "As you can see, I put the Christmas tree in
the front window ... thus preventing his Highness from checking out
all the happenings in the hood. He is gonna POUT for the next three
weeks. How will I survive?" Photo ©2011 J. Kuskowski
Green thumbs down
to razing your garden in winter. It is practical to cut plants
down in fall when the cutting is easy and the clearance makes
weeding simpler. But you can bundle what you cut and prop it up in
the yard, like shocked corn. Birds will be able to glean the seeds
and take cover from wind on a bundle's lee side.
I have a homegrown bird feeder next to my driveway called Pampas
grass. It is about 12-15 feet tall and full of seeds. The sparrows
and other small birds love it. It is fun to watch them out of my
- F. K. -
Redwing blackbirds (above: male, left, female, right) are as
much a part of our lives and well-being as the plants in our
garden. We would be very sad if we stopped hearing that rusty-gate
screek of his call, or could no longer watch the young males learn
to hide their colors when in others' territories. But where would
they be if we cut down all the vegetation they use for nest
building and perches?
Below: Peacocks scoured our Detroit Zoo garden, recently,
poking at grasses, eating Viburnum berries, and trailing delighted
children in their wake.