Port Washington Garden Club

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This month in the garden...


"The best way to make sure you're removing a weed and not a valuable plant? If it comes out of the ground easily it's a valuable plant."



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This Month in the Garden (May 2009)

The arrival of Indigo buntings (Passerina cyanea) in Port Washington gardens is a sign that spring has arrived.  The brilliant blue breeding plumage of the male birds is hard to miss when the tree branches are still bare (although its mate, dressed in brown feathers, is easily overlooked).

Indigo buntings prefer grasslands and open fields along second-growth woods to the tidy urban gardens in our city.  The birds winter in Florida, Central America and the Caribbean islands but travel north, many along the shore of Lake Michigan, to breed.

Indigo buntings are just one of the many bird species that migrate along the Great Lakes.  Ruby-throated hummingbirds and others travel by day but on spring nights large flocks of nocturnal migrants flying out over the lake can be seen on radar.  The birds disperse and rest on land during the day to the delight of local bird watchers.

Like the Indigo buntings, many of these avian travelers will only stay in Port Washington gardens for a day or two, then either continue their travels north or move to establish breeding territories inland or in open areas outside the city.  Gardens with shrubs that provide cover and water in bird baths or ornamental ponds are most likely to attract these visitors.

Enormous numbers of birds travel the Lake Michigan fly-way.  Geese, ducks and other water-loving birds like loons, cranes and gulls are frequently spotted in the Port Washington harbor and along its lake front.  Many kinds of swallows, warblers and swifts are also frequent visitors, and it’s also easy to spot colorful Baltimore orioles, Scarlet tanagers, and Rose-breasted grosbeaks around the city.

The spring and autumn bird migrations make Port Washington a great place for bird watching.  Three birding “hot spots” on the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail ( are located in Port Washington, all within walking distance to downtown restaurants and shops.

This Month in the Garden Archive:

November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
June 2010

April 2010
March 2010
February 2010

January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009

March 2009

Port Washington Garden Club, PO Box 492, Port Washington, Wisconsin 53074
Registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization