Monday, November 17, 2008

Gorgeous Gourds

THE gourd family covers a broad spectrum of vined plants from edible gourds like pumpkins and squashes to inedible fruits, often used for decorations, vessels or utensils. Early Americans Indians found another use for the latter; they discovered that if they cut holes in them, cleaned them out and hung them in trees or on poles around their gardens, birds would use them as a nesting site. Birds that controlled the insect population around the village were particularly desirable.

We painted this bottle gourd at a holiday fair at the weekend. Gourd birdhouses are used by different cavity-nesting birds such as martins, bluebirds, carolina wrens, swallows and woodpeckers. Which species comes depends on the size of the hole and location of the birdhouse. We definitely have bluebirds, wrens and woodpeckers in the garden! We'll see if anyone moves in in the Spring.

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