Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wildlife Comes Alive at Pittsgrove Farms

New Jersey gets a bad rap for being a mafia ridden, wasteland of industry and highways. Those of us that live here know why it is affectionately called the Garden State.

We have always embraced the nature of Hunterdon County. This year more than ever (probably because we are outside more than ever) we have seen all kinds of wildlife. From orange-winged orioles to the occasional fox, we get to experience the wonders of Mother Nature beyond the blooming iris, peonies, and other perennials though they sure are nice too.

Just today we came across a running box turtle, (very slowly running, but running nonetheless by turtle standards), a flying gray heron, many many frogs, and a nesting Killdeer.

The Killdeer, which is named for its loud piercing "kill-deer" call, is a rather unusual bird as it is comfortable nesting close to humans and often make nests on the ground. What makes this bird even more interesting is its broken-wing act. When humans or predators come near, the Killdeer will pretend to act injured in an effort to draw the predator away from its nest. Despite the evolutionary genius that has help ensure that its young survive, it is quite funny to watch as it looks something similar to a country line dance by a bar patron who has had a few too many.

Can you find me? The Killdeer remains camouflaged in the overgrown daylily beds. Pardon the weeds, but how would you like it if someone started ripping up your home?
The Killdeer, who has made a home in our daylily fields, lives close by to the frogs. The frogs have made the small pond near the driveway home. For years, the area next to the entrance to Pittsgrove Farms was a natural wet spot that filled after even a short drizzle. Instead of letting it remain as an overgrown ditch, we have transformed it into a pond filled with waterlilies and frogs, and surrounded by Siberian iris, Japanese iris, water iris and wet tolerant perennials.

A pretty nice ditch - the water lilies have just started to bloom next to the pot of very old papyrus. In the foreground, Ruffled Velvet Siberian iris comes into bloom.
In hopes of making the area an even greater refuge for our plants and animal friends, we plan on extending the natural pond by simply defining the edges more and adding some plastic to maintain the water during the dry season. After all, isn't it nice having company in the garden?

Rippit! Ribbit! A frog sunbathes on the rock behind some blooming iris laevigata variegata.

Creeping Jeremy sneaks up on the frog for an extreme closeup, as it sits on a rock laced with water-loving Creepy Jenny.


Bengbeng said...

excellent post and pics..i love the way u made the tulips n papyrus n frog seem so natural.. the ftrog didnt hop way

Greg said...

A garden isn't truly alive until everyone's moved in!! I'm applauding your use of the existing land features--what a great example for the rest of us.

Siberian iris sounds like a great way of working with the regular flooding I've been seeing in part of my garden: lemons to lemonade...and such a pretty ditch!

Greg said...

Oh, yah, and Three Cheers for the Garden State...especially in June!