Birdhouse Gourd: Acorns and Twigs

birdhouse gourd collage 2014Two summers ago I planted Birdhouse Gourds from seed. Infatuated with the idea of carving my own birdhouses, I imagined a garden filled with nesting birds.

A gardener can dream, can’t she?

Most of the gourds grew to about three inches, then dropped off the vine. By season’s end, two of the gourds reached maturity. I brought them indoors and let them dry for close to a year. They turned a wonderful, spotted brown.

I eagerly drilled an opening in one side, then added holes tiny holes in the bottom for drainage and along the stem. Further reading, however, proved that the opening was too large for any of our native birds. I learned, too, that the height of the nest and its ability to camouflage are important. If all the nesting conditions aren’t met, the nest is a no-go.

So, with nothing to lose, I hung the gourd in the tree and simply enjoyed the view.

Several months later I found the gourd on the lawn. I picked it up to return it to the tree and heard a rattling inside. All sorts of things crossed my mind. Could it be a nest? If it was a nest, why was it on the ground? Since it was on the ground, did another critter disturb it? When I mustered the courage to look inside, I realized it was full of small twigs and acorn-like nuts. Excited about this new and unexpected development, I returned the gourd to the tree, hoping the scavenger might return.

gourd with twigs

Gourd with one of the twigs visible

Alas, I’m still waiting. I’m sure the critter is coming and going, just not when I’m around to see it.

Do you ever wonder what’s going on outside your window as you go about the business of daily life? I’m intrigued by the discoveries of nature at work and wish I had the time to sit undisturbed in a chair so I could focus on the nature around me. Alternatively, wouldn’t it be fun to install a ‘nanny-cam’ outdoors to capture what we missed?

What’s your take on the contents of the gourd? Is it a secret stash? An unfinished nest? Did one of the squirrels tidy up the yard and use the gourd as a rubbish bin? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Birdhouse Gourd: Free Fall Averted

I took a field trip with my husband to the side yard on Monday. He hadn’t seen our birdhouse gourd in a week so I was happy to show it off. The added girth was indeed impressive, but he was also concerned that the weight would snap the vine. His concerns were well founded. We lost a pumpkin this summer in the same way. One day it was hanging from the trellis; the next day the weight snapped the vine and dropped the pumpkin to the ground.

birdhouse gourd with tape measure

birdhouse gourd perspective with orange tree

Above: A bit of perspective. The raspberries and oranges look tiny next to the gourd.
Left: measuring up.

As if on cue, when I checked on Birdhouse Gorgeous today it hung nearly six inches lower on the trellis. Further, the vine was putting weight on the phone wires under the eaves. I had to leave for a meeting, but couldn’t face returning home to a smashed gourd. I needed a way to support it without hindering its growth.  Did they sell gourd hammocks, and if so, where would I find one on short notice?

My quick fix?  A few pieces of garden twine and a color-coordinating mesh shopping bag. It took less than five minutes to rig and it solved both problems.  The bag supports the weight of the gourd while at the same time allowing air to circulate.  The twine lifts the vine up and away from the phone lines.  I can’t write my blog without an internet connection!  Crisis averted.  The vine is now free to grow about its business.

Mesh Grocery Bag and twine

Mesh grocery bag

Gourd support

It’s in the bag

Halloween Countdown

vampire pumpkin

Vampire Pumpkin

I raided my son’s dress-up box for this week’s Halloween countdown. In the meantime, snails continue to “carve” the Snail Hotel.


Blooming Thursday: Last Call


The party is over. We’ve had a good run. The last of the anemones are finally winding down, with just a few new blooms here and there.

blooming Anemone

A few remaining blooms

We’ve enjoyed eight weeks of snow-white blossoms meandering along the back fence.  The anemones appeared at our dinner table, at my book club and in several gardeningnirvana posts.They helped soften the departure of the summer cosmos.They’ve continued to bloom into early fall, waiting for autumn color to set in before making a quiet retreat.  In a few more weeks the plants will blend in with the other greenery, and if it gets cold enough, they’ll go dormant.  See you next summer!

Katydid on Anemone

What do you mean, the party is over?

anemone spent blooms

Spent and dying blooms

water color edges

Watercolor Edges

Birdhouse Gourd

larger birdhouse gourd

Birdhouse Gorgeous 10/5/12

I’ve decided to rename the gourd below, “birdhouse gorgeous.” I’m stunned at the rapid acceleration in the past ten days. Count me grateful, too, that it’s growing off to the side of the trellis or I would have hit my head on it by now.

birdhouse gourd

Birdhouse Gorgeous 9/6/12

Halloween Countdown

Warm and toasty pumpkins
Handmade scarf by Mary Ann Askins