Things have slowed down a little in the garden this week on the plant front. No especially new appearances but lots of things growing rapidly and strongly with the first of the berry fruits ripening – much to the joy of the juvenile birds we are hosting. It’s amusing watching young birds learning to be birds and begging food from their parents. The featured photographs in the sidebar to the right show a young American Robin teetering along thin branches barely thick enough to take its weight in search of tempting red Amelanchier berries … as you can see, it was successful. Elsewhere in this week’s photo gallery there are pictures of a female Downy Woodpecker introducing her youngster to the peanut feeder we provide … the young bird seemed to be getting the idea quite well but mum still insisted on stuffing bits of peanut into its beak.

The red Serviceberries (Amelanchier canadensis) are the first to turn red and will soon be followed by the American Elderberries. The Dogwood and the Viburnum will be along some time afterwards. Sour Cherries are growing fat – still green but they too will be starting to ripen in the next week or so and then will disappear into birds’ stomachs before we can get at them. The flowers on the newly planted Winterberry bushes have opened in the last few days with the males being open a couple of days before the females … we are hoping for a good set leading to lots of bright red fruit at the end of fall.

Still a good number of Water Lily flowers to enjoy in the pond. The Lupins have put on a magnificent show with multiple flower heads and the potted Lilies will surely be in bloom within a very short time. A few of the Lilies have not formed flower buds (this happens) and will be culled at year’s end.

Weather-wise after a couple of terribly hot and humid days things have generally cooled off and it is now much easier working out of doors. One day of forecast mega storms turned into just heavy rain with a bit of distant thunder and lightening. This is really all to the good as these sort of damp conditions interspersed with sunshine just make the garden grow thick and lush.

The Chipping Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers and American Robins now all have youngsters following behind hoping for a meal and the seeds in our battery of feeders are being consumed at a tremendous rate. Nestlings, even of seed eating bird species, need the additional fats and proteins of insects to develop well so we hope our plot is producing an adequate supply – such a shame that none of the birds choose to eat lily beetles though!

By Friday we were out looking for Fireflies and J was rewarded by a good show just before dark. Several flying around the trees and a really good showing in the far corner behind the new winterberry plot.

J was  intrigued to see what seemed to be Wild Asters popping up in odd corners of the garden, mostly on land that has been recently disturbed – well, two years ago and these are biennials so this is their flowering year. It seems very early in the year but they certainly “look” like Asters. She put on her “Digital Botanist” hat and looked closer and what we have are two species of Fleabane. Members of the daisy family for sure but not asters by any means. She has written about this and shared some photographs on the Digital Botanist website which you might like to head over to and read … see

There was a discussion during the week on the web about Chipmunks in the garden. We occasionally see them nearby in the Arboretum and in Senneville and Beaconsfield gardens but have never seen one here at the Sparroworks in almost twenty years.  Their preferred foods are acorns and beech mast, neither of which we can provide though there are supplies not too far away. They are burrowing critters however and we wonder if their absence may be related to the relatively high water table in the garden due to geology and the absence of town sewers – we all have weeping fields for septic tanks.

Juvenile Robin out Berrying

“Berries – I want berries”

“I see one … several in fact”

“That looks good”

“Got it!”