For the birds: September 2011 gardens report

So far September is being very good for La Posada’s several acres of gardens. July and August were a challenge for the gardens and gardeners. We received virtually no rain in both July and August, and the average temperature for the month of August was the highest in Winslow’s recorded history. In addition, many of the plants on the hotel’s south side turned brown, as they tried to adjust to the high mineral content of the water in our new irrigation well. But, with the recent soaking rains, the gardens are feeling refreshed and happy again.

Just as the rains began, we had a bird expert from Northern Arizona University conduct a survey of the birds that use our garden oasis as vital habitat. The survey counted at least twenty different species, including warblers, vireos, and finches. We really enjoy seeing and hearing these birds in the gardens. Especially visible are the house sparrows who are feasting on the heirloom sunflower seeds in the Potager Garden (just east of the camel). As summer turns into fall, we will begin harvesting any remaining sunflower seeds, along with ears of blue corn and the flowering tops of Hopi red amaranth. Before the first frosts of October, we will be planting cold-tolerant chard and kale where the sunflowers are now growing, along with cover crops (ryegrass, etc.), to help conserve and improve the soil.

As summer fades and the yellow flowers of perennial Maximillian sunflowers begin blooming, enjoy La Posada’s gardens and pajaritos (the birds).

P. Pynes, Gardens Manager

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