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  • Cindy
    With our close friends who live in Switzerland, we built a small energy-efficient “second” home on the border of evergreen forest and meadow in the mountains above Ashland OR. It was mostly finished when we moved in late March 2020, to reduce our Covid-19 risk (we share our house in Oakland CA with an essential worker). We have lived here full time for over a year enjoying the birds, including dark-eyed junco, pine siskin, vesper sparrow, flicker, Stellar’s jay, Western bluebird, red tailed hawk, spotted towhee, green-tailed towhee, pileated woodpecker, red-breasted sapsucker, and mountain chickadee. To our great delight, last year we observed a pair sandhill crane raise two young and a pair of great gray owls raise three young. We have also regularly heard the Wilson’s snipe give it winnowing flight call as it flies above the meadow after dusk and in the early dawn. We want to add native plants that are good habitat for the birds, as we landscape the extensive slope below our flagstone patio. We are at 4600 ft. elevation, in planting zone 7, and need to plant species that are fire resistant because the danger of wildfire is substantial. The meadow has a diverse mix of grasses and wildflowers, which we hope will repopulate the disturbed soil of the slope below the house. That process has started, but we also want to add bushes and ground cover that will provide good habitat for birds. The meadow includes some serviceberry bushes and a few ponderosa pines, which the birds use and which provide us with great viewing opportunities. I created a small vegetable garden last year and will be expanding it this year. Last fall I planted seven blueberry bushes and this spring I planted three more. They are doing well so far, in spite of the snow and frost we had as recently as last week. The silverberry bushes and coffee berry bushes I planted last fall suffered quite a bit,  but survived the winter. Only two of the three Oregon grape plants survived. Our friends, who co-own the house with us, are finally able to join us here and will be arriving next week. So it is time for us to jointly make decisions on plants and get them planted. I look forward to learning from the course and from this group!
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