Snow falling in the Pacific Northwest is a big deal. West of the Cascade Mountains, the weather in winter is mostly rain interspersed with what the weather folks cheerfully refer to as “sun breaks.” Snow is for the higher elevations, and further east.
We’ve already had snow this winter. I don’t want any more. And in my garden’s countdown to The Garden Conservancy Open Day on July 7, the snow that’s falling now has just put a whammy on the timing for finishing the paver circle. We’re already running late. It’s a domino thing. 1. Finish circle. 2. Put in sprinkler lines for new lawn strip around the circle. 3. Finish preparing the seed bed for the lawn. 4. Put in seed—with enough time for the grass to grow before July 7.
And now snow has quietly buried the entire work site. The foreman called this morning. He’s up near Portland at a lower elevation with less snow. I tell him the crew couldn’t even find the circle if they tried. I’m not sure they could actually get to our house, given the road conditions. It is rumored there are only two snowplows in all of our Lane County, which is the size of Connecticut. When it snows like this, we just stay home.
So I am putting the finishing touches on our bird feeder. This is a flat feeder, which hangs from an upright wagon wheel rim which we found on the property. The children always said it was off a wagon wheel that came over the Oregon Trail. Maybe, but more likely it’s from a logging wagon. Sergio Millan, the rock wall creator who has many other talents, welded some legs on the rim so it would stand up.
But I’ve never finished the feeder. I always wanted to cover the bolt that sticks up through the top of the metal rim and suspends flat feeder below. I found a wooden finial in my tool shed—bought for something I didn’t make—and today is the day I’m sanding and staining it to match the sides of the feeder.
A suspended flat feeder like this is perfect for attracting the ground-feeding birds, such as mourning doves and others who prefer an open space. Made for me by Alexis, owner of Maddock Construction, the flat base that holds the seed is a square of non-rusting metal with a pattern of fine holes punched in it. I’m not sure what the original function of that metal is—Alexis got it at a home improvement store—but it works much better than screening (which the squirrels pull apart in their seed quest) and the holes allow rain water to drain out, keeping the seed much fresher than a solid board would. The metal is framed with clear stained fir or cedar, and for fun, I added a half-round molding on top, stained a dark red.
The wagon rim appears to float above a circle of four barberry bushes (Berberis ‘Rose Glow’). This barberry has never reproduced in my garden, but the most charming aspect of these purple-maroon shrubs, clipped into an approximation of a round—their prickly stems discourage cats from lurking nearby and keep raccoons from investigating the feeder. # # # #