Wrenaissance in the new millennium

By 2001, I had updated the home page with a shorter intro combined with the former How and Why page. I had the same photos in a banner at the top, which I haven’t repeated here. I also provided a timeline of habitat development, that’s a sort of proto-blog.

Welcome to Wrenaissance
NWF Backyard Wildlife Habitat #23563

Wrenaissance.com exists as a way for me to share my enthusiasm for backyard habitats, and the joy that I’ve gotten from creating, improving, and living in one. It also lets me share some of the information I’ve learned over the years, which I hope will convince you that creating your own backyard habitat is a good idea, an achievable goal, and a lot of fun.

It’s really not difficult to create a wildlife habitat in your yard, if you’re willing to give up the typical suburban lawn and provide food, water, and shelter for small animals instead. It also helps to plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers, since local plants and animals are suited to each other.

Why did I do this?

  • I really enjoy watching birds, squirrels, and other wildlife, and wanted to do everything I could to attract them to my yard.
  • It’s good for the environment – songbird migration is disrupted and bird species are disappearing at an alarming rate due to habitat loss as cities and suburbs sprawl further afield.
  • Pesticides are killing birds.
  • Traditional landscaping has disadvantages.
  • Pollution from yard runoff has damaged watersheds, rivers, and larger bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Use of native plants helps preserve biodiversity.
  • It’s fun! There are lots of other people doing the same thing. Join the crowd!

Both the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program and the Natural Resources Conservation Service offer information and step-by-step guides to creating a backyard wildlife habitat as well as general information on the why and how of backyard conservation. There’s an abundance of books, magazines, and electronic resources available if you want more information.

Wildlife

The wildlife list grew, with the addition of

  • red fox
  • rabbit
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Chronology

2000

  • Away for most of July and August, I find that the wet summer has helped the yard thrive in spite of benign neglect. One pepperbush has died off, and one of the arrowwood viburnum washed out during a summer storm, but the rest of the various plantings, old and new, are hanging on. A surprise patch of coreopsis I thought had died in last year’s drought has reappeared, and the late, lamented third paw paw tree has also resurfaced. (Now I have to find a place to transplant it.) The remainder of the warm weather will go to trimming, thinning irises and lilies, mulching, and preparing for fall and winter. 
  • June 11 – A busy summer at work leaves much less time than I would like for the yard (or these web pages). 
    • Still, I have managed to put in 3 Mountain Laurels, 8 Virginia Sweetspire, and 5 Viburnum (3 arrowwood and 2 possumhaw).
    • I also planted a lot more cardinal flowers, wood poppies, bluebells, and foamflower, and added blue lobelia to the red.
    • I laid out some new beds in the front yard, where the sweetspire have now been planted.
    • I’m enjoying watching the squirrels and various birds feast on the serviceberry bush.
  • May 30 – Another exciting sighting: a Baltimore Oriole pair are living nearby and were seen in the yard several times over the Memorial Day Weekend. I have seen them several times since then, and they appear to be nesting in the trees next door but are frequent visitors to the backyard.
  • April 2 – The serviceberry is in full bloom, and other shrubs and trees are starting to leaf out. I’m working my way through the usual, fun spring chores – cleaning the bird feeders, weeding, trimming, mulching – but also planning and dreaming.
  • March 8 – Sitting on the deck, I heard the squirrels go crazy fussing about something. Looking around for a trespassing cat, I was startled to see a red fox pop out from under our fence and trot across the back yard. If I hadn’t had company who also saw it, I’d probably have convinced myself it was a hallucination by now.
  • February 27 – Some days I see more weeds than flowers. Some weeks I hardly see any birds other than sparrows and starlings. I wonder if it’s worth all the time and work it takes to try to build a habitat. Then I realize that in the past two months I’ve seen three species in the yard for the first time ever – a hairy woodpecker, a yellow bellied sapsucker, and 5 red-winged blackbirds.

Wrenaissance History

1999

  • Certified as Backyard Wildlife Habitat by NWF
  • Installed retaining wall to control erosion in front
  • Lost two locust  trees to Hurricane Floyd
  • Planted American Holly, Redbud, Pussywillow, and Lilac in front
  • Planted Serviceberry, Magnolia, Spicebush, Sweet Pepperbush, Cotoneasters, Bee Balm, Wood Poppy, Bluebells, Foamflower, and more Columbine and Cardinal Flowers in back
  • Added a second birdbath and a squirrel feeder
  • Added Hummingbird feeder

1998

  • Planted noninvasive ground cover, and created stone-filled drainage areas to lessen water runoff
  • Tore down old shed in back, moved firewood stacks behind garage
  • Planted three Paw Paw trees (one later died, two survivors), one Viburnum, one Highbush Blueberry, three Winterberries, and three Inkberries in back
  • Began butterfly garden with Columbine, Cardinal Flowers, and Azalea 
  • Installed birdbath heater for winter

1997

  • Regraded back and side yards to help with erosion control
  • Began to learn about native plans and wildlife habitats
  • Revised landscape plan and began to lay out new beds to minimize lawn area
  • Cleared several large patches of English ivy, Japanese Honeysuckle, and other invasive plants

1996

  • Began repair of fence, deck, garage
  • First draft of landscape plan
  • More birdfeeders (thistle, black oil tube, peanut, and suet feeder)
  • Lost second apple tree (one remains)

1995

  • Bought house, moved in
  • Began to clear brush and poison ivy from yard
  • First bird feeder (platform, mixed seed) 
  • Lost one apple tree to borers
  • Planted dogwood, irises, daylilies