Garden Club Bird and Flower of the Month

Highlighting the plants and animals found throughout our canyon, these blurbs are written and illustrated by local Garden Club members. Many thanks to the Chevy Chase Estates Garden Club. Please feel free to email them.

The Western Scrub-Jay

This 11 ½ inch, noisy, blue and gray bird with a long tail is very familiar in our canyon area.  Some people call it a “blue jay” but its real name is “scrub jay.”  The real blue jay resides back east; and yes, they are related.  This jay is bold and easily tamed with sunflower seeds, peanuts or hard corn on the cob that you get in feed stores.  It’s comical to watch them get the corn off the cob.  Acorns are their native diet and we have lots of them growing in our oak trees.  The scrub-jay visits scrub oaks and backyard feeders, but will also eat insects and steal the eggs of song birds!  Scrub jays have a certain amount of intelligence.  There are studies how they hide their food in eyesight of other birds and then sneak back and hide it again, tricking them.   They are territorial.  Some jays don’t mate but instead act as sentries and/or babysitters for their family. Their call is a harsh, raspy “shreep”.    By Carroll Waldron Ropp

Heuchera (Coral Bells)

Grown for their stunning foliage and graceful flowers that give the plant its name, Heuchera, (pronounced WHO KERR AH) is also known as alumroot and coral bells. Native to North America, bell-shaped flowers appear in late spring on 12-18 inch stalks rising above 8-10 inch wide clumps of foliage. Divide and replant the clumps every three to four years.  Coral Bells prefer half shade and dead-heading encourages repeat blooming through the summer.  The cut flowers last over one week.  A great feature of coral bells is that the plants do not have pests or disease problems.  Deer are not interested in munching on them, and hummers and butterflies visit them frequently.  The terra cotta-colored tiny bell shaped flowers and interesting foliage of this plant is attractive in containers, borders, and can even be planted as groundcovers. This plant was named after Johana Heinrich von Heucher (1677-1746), an 18TH century German physician.  By Mary Betlach

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