THE WILD THINGS
The nearly 1 acre lot in northern Bergen County was completely taken over by English Ivy and hundreds of saplings. An old gym set and half basketball court were nothing more than ghosts of a former past that had not been visited in over 10 years by the former owners. But there was something special about this site, on a hill and actually tiered once the ivy was removed, over the last twenty plus years we have rescued plants from construction sites and replaced lost habitat to restore this little parcel of land to what we hope is its former self. The way Mother Nature had wanted it to be. And as every good Gardener knows, the garden is never finished. It evolves each Spring to Fall and planned through the Winter to the next Spring. And now we have our own little ecosystem. Animals of all types now call this home or pass on through, some are rescued, but most have found the habitat to be that special place.
Frogs and toads now are abundant throughout the yard. Salamanders and Newts scurry about the leaves and under logs, breeding in the pond below the rear windows of the house. Ducks fly in, Herons as well. Hawks nest in the large Oaks along with many other species of birds. The Pileated Woodpeckers being our favorite. Turkey, Deer, Bears, and even an occasional Fox and Coyote will pass on by, we won't mention the Mountain Lion that was in the area a few years ago. That was a little much. All of this less than an hour from downtown New York City!
ALL OF THESE PHOTOS ARE FROM OUR OWN YARD
FROGS, TURTLES, SALAMANDERS, SNAKES OH MY!
TEAL AS WE NAMED HIM, IS A GREEN FROG THAT IS MISSING THE YELLOW PIGMENT THAT CREATES HIS BLUE HUE.
YEARS AGO WE RESCUED SOME TADPOLES FROM A CONSTRUCTION SITE. NOW WE HAVE GREEN FROGS, SOME ARE TAME ENOUGH TO EAT WORMS FROM YOUR HAND.
WITH THE INCREASE OF NATIVE PLANTS THAT BLANKET THE FOREST FLOOR, WOOD FROGS HAVE ARRIVED. AND 2018 WAS A BANNER YEAR FOR THEM. THEY WERE EVERYWHERE!
GRAY'S TREEFROGS ARE FOUND THROUGHOUT THE GARDEN. THIS YOUNGSTER IS ON AN ARM OF A PATIO CHAIR.
OUR FROG HABITATS INCLUDE A 8' X 8' POND WITH CONNECTING SMALLER PONDS WITH A WATERFALL. THERE IS A SMALLER POND IN THE WOODLAND GARDEN ALONG WITH ANOTHER POND IN THE SIDE YARD. EACH POND IS SURROUNDED BY THICK PLANTINGS THAT KEEP THEM SAFE AND ATTRACT BUGS. FERNS, WILDFLOWERS OF ALL KINDS CARPET THE FOREST FLOOR ALONG WITH LOGS AND A THICK LAYER OF LEAVES. THIS CREATES A HAVEN FOR INSECTS AND WORMS THAT IN TURN FEED OUR FROGS, SALAMANDERS, NEWTS, BOX TURTLES, TOADS AND GARTER SNAKES.
DEER - LOVE HATE RELATIONSHIP
FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS WE ALLOWED THE DEER TO ROAM FREELY ON THE PROPERTY AND FOR 18 OF THOSE YEARS TWINS WERE BORN EACH YEAR IN THE YARD INCLUDING THE ONE ON THE LEFT WHICH WAS BORN AT THE FRONT DOOR. UNFORTUNATELY OVER THE YEARS THE DEER BECAME TOO MUCH. WITH OVER 23 DIFFERENT DEER ON OUR BLOCK ALONE. THEIR OVER POPULATION AND SUBSEQUENT DESTRUCTION OF THE GARDEN CREATED HUGE LOSSES ON WILDFLOWERS AND EFFECTED ALL OTHER ANIMAL POPULATIONS. IN 2017 WE PLACED DEER FENCE AROUND THE PROPERTY AND THEY NO LONGER ENTER THE YARD.
SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO RESCUE THINGS ON OUR OWN PROPERTY. THESE LITTLE GUYS PRIED OPEN THE GARBAGE CAN LID BUT FELL IN. THEY WERE NOT TOO HAPPY WHEN i FOUND THEM.
WHEN I TRIED TO GET THEM OUT, TWO RAN OUT EASILY AND SEEMED PRETTY THANKFUL. THE THIRD DID NOT WANT TO COME OUT, EVEN WHEN I TURNED THE CAN UPSIDE DOWN, IT WEDGED ITSELF IN.
WHEN IT FINALLY CAME OUT IT DID NOT RUN AWAY, IT STOOD THERE LOOKING AT ME, AS IF TO SAY " WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG TO GET US OUT OF THERE!"
Over the years we have had two dogs who enjoy the yard almost as much as we do. Kayla (we lost her a few years ago) and now Jersey. We are not sure Jersey is going to watch over the yard, but seems intent on destroying it.
Kayla, our sweet well mannered yellow lab that smiled and loved all of the animals, walked with the deer, never bothered the dozens of frogs, birds or other animals in the yard. Walked along the paths and never, never, crossed into the garden beds.
When Kayla passed away at 16 years, we were heartbroken so much so we were going to take a year or two to decide if we wanted another dog, that lasted a couple of months..........................
And then Jersey came along. You only need to have watched Marley and Me
to understand her. Marley is a well behaved puppy compared to our little
Jersey. But she has gotten better, or at least that what we keep
Oh so cute, but look closely at the eyes, they say " I aim to misbehave..... a lot"
A typical day in the yard, what a helpful puppy..............or so it appears.
The two that run this household, sometimes I am not sure which of them runs it more.