It is no secret that if you have a plot of land there is generally four sides to it. Given the predilection surveyors have to orient things on a logical grid, those sides usually conform to ordinal directions.
This is the case at The Havens. There are numerous posts that feature our West line, which is where the stroll garden is, and the little pond. On the North line is the barn and a very wild line of trees and shrubbery that shields us from the “view” in that direction. Our South line is the street we live on. Many pictures of the house, vineyard, and front gardens have been taken from that line.
Our East line parallels the main drag towards I-44. When we moved here, it featured a broken down stockwire/barbed wire fence and a wild tangle of volunteer elms, cherries, mulberries, orange trumpet creeper vine, poison ivy, virginia creeper and God knows what else.
It was a heaven for the local birds, and served to shield us from the wonderful view of the neighboring business, which sold mobile and manufactured homes. Most of the mobile homes were repossessions. It was pretty much an eyesore.
So much was it an eyesore, that I almost NEVER took any pictures specifically of it. The East line only shows up as a back drop for other parts of the place I was trying to show, sort of like this one of the sauna.
Despite that fact, I really sort of liked it, because there was always something going on back there. On the north end of that line is a thicket of plums with a big currant bush. The brown thrasher used that spot to raise her family. There were usually cat birds living there, as well as cardinals using the vines for nesting areas. The finches hung out there, along with robins, blue jays, the occasional hawk or owl. The hummingbirds used the orange trumpet creeper vine.
I won’t discuss the owner of the trailer sales place except to say that he was the reason that we found ourselves in need of a lawyer. Harassment is a gentle word for what he did. But as things turned out, he wound up selling his property to the Dollar General corporation. During the course of the hearings at the City Council, we discovered that they intended to build a privacy fence between our place and their lot.
We decided to have the tangled mess cleared up to facilitate that event. Our plan is to establish a garden over there that consists of prairie plants: tall grasses like big bluestem and panicum; medium grasses like little bluestem, prairie dropseed, and sorgastrums; and a bunch of prairie flowers. I also intended to plant shrubs as well, to re-establish the flyway for the small birds.
So we spent a big wad of money and had professionals come in and clear the line. We had them preserve the line of forsythias at the back, as well as one oak, one large mulberry, and one black walnut
Eventually we had all that chipped up tree and shrubbery spread out along the line to make a mulch layer. I spent the fall and spring planting shrubs next to the very beautiful fence Dollar General built.
Last fall I planted seeds for the flowers and grasses. They are young, but they are coming along. I also have assiduously transplanted starts from my Petite Prairie, and those are the plants you can actually see in the above shots.
Above is the north end of the East line, where I planted forsythia about ten years ago or so. You are seeing the west and east sides of that thicket. Needless to say, during the interim the birds have provided me with lots of extraneous things in that patch of shrubs, not the least of which is a very healthy stand of poison ivy. When the clearing was done, we had the stumps of the trees ground out, but we could not do that at this end of the line and also save the bushes.
I really wanted to save those bushes because I knew that that birds were using the line of trees for shelter and habitat, and I wasn’t willing to completely evict them all. Anyway, we now have about 10 elm trees, two or three locusts, a maple and a couple of mulberries that are trying to assert themselves. Since I am averse to using glyphosphate or other herbicides, the method needed to convince these trees that they are actually dead is to go out there and clip off the dozens of sprouts they are sending up around their trunks. This is a job you have to do every couple of months or so during the summer for two or three years.
A few days ago I went back there to beat back the poison ivy, so that the sprout removal would be less fraught with danger from it. I filled up a 33 gallon garbage bag with poison ivy. I thought I had avoided getting it, but no such luck. Both my wrists have outbreaks and I got exposed to enough of it that my eyes are all swollen up. Oh well. Sacrifices must be made, I guess.
Anyway, while I have been removing elm sprouts I found two old cardinal nests from last year. And I also found the nest the brown thrasher built this year.
I also saw the cat birds and a pair of hairy woodpeckers. The other day I saw a whole family of indigo buntings as well. So I guess our transition has not made my birds feel unwelcome.
Next year the flowers and prairie grasses ought to look quite special. In the mean time, I will have to introduce myself to the City’s Compliance Officer and explain what the plan is so that I won’t get citations from the local authorities enjoining me to mow down the “tall weeds.”
I think I’ll begin by inviting him to visit the Petite Prairie. Stay tuned for future developments.