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Oregon Wildside-Autumn Update

Now that autumn is rolling on in and I’m winding down my garden season, I thought it was time for an update to my July entry on what was going on in my yard’s wildside. To get you up to speed, you can read the first entry in this wildside series here: Keeping A Wildside – Oregon Style.

Mostly, autumn is a time of mowing and cleaning up what’s left and reflecting on what I might do differently next year.

The whole idea of a wildside is to keep an area of your yard “wild” to see what grows there naturally. This provides a natural habitat for your native bees and birds to use for food and shelter. Allowing the plants to go to seed will keep your wildside growing from year to year.

wildside oregon sept 2020 (5) prickly lettuce

I left a large patch of plants growing along the fence until I knew for certain what they were. It turns out they were prickly lettuce. They aren’t an especially pretty plant and I’m thinking next year I’ll pull them up when they sprout in the spring. (There will be a prickly lettuce nature study coming soon!)

My lovely mullein has sort of taken over the one side of our berm garden. I love mullein but we had so much of it that I went ahead and pulled it up by the roots to clear a space in the garden for some more yarrow. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of mullein for our family to enjoy along with the birds and bees.

wildside oregon sept 2020 (1) fireweed

The experience of allowing a wildside allows for me to change my mind about a particular plant once I identify it. I allow something to grow until I can see if it’s a native, if it’s beneficial to birds or birds or other animals, and if it isn’t something that’s going to completely take over the area. It’s a lot more work to allow things to grow before you decide if you need to weed them out, but I learn a little more each year and I’m getting much more proficient at knowing what should stay and what should go.

wildside oregon sept 2020 (6) mowed

We mowed most everything down once it went to seed so we’re sure there will be a new crop of dandelions, yarrow, tansy mustard, purple dead nettle, and collomia once spring comes again.

We have one thing left to do this year before the weather turns too cold and the ground too hard to dig.  We’ll be transplanting some native grasses from one side of our yard to fill in a bare spot. The grasses will help create more of a “wildside” on the side of my husband’s shop. Transplanting grasses is fairly easy and as long as you get a good root ball, they take off growing like nothing ever happened.


The ground squirrels are all back in their burrows until next spring. I’ll miss them periscoping up out of their holes to scurry along the tall grasses. Their holes are all still visible but there has been no sighting of them for weeks.

Sept 2020 swallow nest box birds

Our swallows and bluebirds are all gone from their nesting boxes and we’ve cleaned the nests out for the season. I find nests so interesting. Each species of bird has their own way of going about building a nest and with our attempt at keeping a wildside, I think it helps the birds have the right kind of nesting materials they need to successfully raise a clutch of eggs. You can see how the bird artists use the grasses, leaves, and twigs gleaned from our yard.

oregon sept 2020 (2) prickly lettuce seeds

Good night wildside. We shall see you on the other side of winter!


oregon wildsideRead the July 2020 entry that highlights our Oregon Style Wild Side Garden. 

These are resources I have in my personal library that I flip through for information and inspiration in building my wildside garden.

Please note the links above are Amazon affiliate links to books I purchased with my own money and highly recommend.


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Keeping a Wildside – Oregon Style

I’ve wanted to share a little bit about the process we’ve gone through as we have designed the landscaping on our half acre plot here in Central Oregon. When we moved here 3 years ago, there was a large expanse of lawn and not much else. My husband loves green grass in the summertime but even he admitted there was way too much to mow and water.

After experiencing the process of removing lawn in our previous yard in California, he was very open to not expanding the lawn, and eventually removing quite a bit to make way for more native plants and shrubs.  (You can read about our California wildside here: Keeping it on the Wildside – Part 1 and Nature Study on the Wildside – Part 2)


It really takes a change in thinking to adjust to the idea of less lawn to make room for more native plants. He still pushes back on my desire to keep the dandelions around the edges of the lawn. We have many, many dandelions here, so the compromise is to keep them to one side of the yard, in my Oregon “wildside”.

oregon wildside

What is my “wildside”?

I define my “wildside” as a place to allow the natives to grow until we can identify them. Then we decide on a case by case basis whether to pull them out by the roots or to nurture them into beautiful plants that add such variety to our yard. This means a shift from calling a plant a “weed” to viewing them as a valued plant in our garden plan.

dead nettle wildside

Restoring a wildside where we remove lawn and transplant native grasses and other flowering plants is also a part of the broad plan to create more natural habitat in our new place.

mullein wildside

Short List of My Wildside Plants


Purple dead nettle


Tansy Mustard


There are still some plants I have yet to figure out if they’re on the “pull them out” list or the “to keep” list. It’s truly a learning process as I gain knowledge and understanding of the new habitat I live in.

I have one main wildside area in the yard and then several smaller pockets of plants that I’m also allowing to grow and make decisions about as we go through another summer season.


One area of wild things is alongside the driveway and I’ve had so many friends comment on how I’m letting the “weeds” grow and I should pull them out. (They are trying to be helpful.)

strawberry blite
Isn’t this an interesting and pretty native plant? It is called strawberry blite or strawberry spinach. I have quite a bit of it growing in our front yard.

Secondary List of Wildside Plants

Strawberry blite

False dandelion


Silver phacelia

The past three years have been a season of observation. We take daily walks around the yard and as each new plant matures, we identify it and then decide if it’s a good fit for our garden. It involves a lot of careful weeding, but in the end I think we’ll have a variety of plants that will be beneficial to the habitat in some way.

mammal hole wildside
This is one of the holes that something, probably a ground squirrel, has dug in my wildside garden. I need to put up the critter cam to see who is digging here.

What do I mean?  We think about whether a particular plant is attractive to pollinators, provides food and shelter to birds or other animals, or is a showy plant that provides color for us to enjoy.

Where we are pulling out the lawn, we’re replacing it with native shrubs that will grow and thrive in Central Oregon. I’m hoping to support the birds and insects that have started to visit and reproduce here. It is so joyful to look out and see the nests being built right within sight of our back widow.

We daily see bees, moths, butterflies, and other insects visiting the flowers.

The birds are using the native grasses as nesting materials, eating the seeds and berries from the plants, and taking sips of water from the puddles left in the dirt and on the rock walls we built.

So there you have a brief overview of how we’re creating a new wildside in our Central Oregon space. There is so much more to share, so I will save that for a future post. It’s a hobby and a passion that I could work on during the time isolated at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t look like the “staying safe at home” time is ending very soon, so I will probably update you dear readers later this fall with any changes or outstanding observations we’ve made.

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Code expires: 8/1/2020





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Creating Wildlife Habitat


This is the time of year that the rewards of creating a wildlife habitat are coming clear as the insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals visit our yard each day. There seems to be someone enjoying the space at all times. I hear buzzing and chirping during the day and see signs that someone has come to drink water and dig around in the leaves at night. I even have seen where some deer have been sleeping around on the side of our house. My husband saw a fox one evening and I heard an owl in our tree.

Creating a Wildlife Habitat Collage

The yard is so alive and full of surprises each day.

I highly recommend the creating of a wildlife habitat that fits your local area’s wild residents.

The National Wildlife Federation website is a wealth of information on how to create your own habitat, step by step. Read this article about creating a wildlife habitat in your own yard. There is also a short video to watch:

Once you certify your garden online, you can order a flag or sign to proudly display in your yard. I ordered the classic sign and we mounted it near our front walkway. Here are all the signs available: National Wildlife Federation Sign Shop.

Wildlife Habitat PlanWould you like a free printable plan for creating your own Wildlife Habitat? I created one for you to use as you access your yard for the four elements you will need to become certified.

Download and print yours here: Wildlife Habitat Plan

For more information, use this link to the National Wildlife Federation: Certify!



I wrote an entry a few years ago about the making of our own wildlife habitat. This entry mostly shows our backyard and how we planted things and arranged the yard to accommodate a variety of wildlife. Read more about the specific things you need to create a living space in your own yard: Making Your Backyard a Wildlife Habitat.  You may find this entry helpful: Birdwatching 101- Attracting Birds with feeders and plants.

Front Yard Wildlife Habitat

Here is another entry that shows the transformation of our front yard into a more wildlife friendly habitat: Frontyard Remodel.   We have since added a mason bee house that you can read about in this post: Mason Bee House. Here is an entry that shows our frontyard in all four seasons: From My Window.


Winter Garden For Wildlife Part 1: This is mostly about the plants you can add to your yard to make a winter habitat for wildlife.

Winter Garden for Wildlife – Part 2: This post will give you simple ideas for attracting and sheltering wildlife in the winter months.

Finch in the Sunflowers

You may wish to read this entry: Gardening For Birds. In this entry, I share how I have added specific plants to attract and nourish our backyard birds.

Now that summer is here, you may be spending more time in your yard or garden. Take a few minutes to observe any wildlife that visits! Use the printable above to make your wildlife habitat plan soon and then go over to the National Wildlife Federation website to get certified. Then, proudly display your sign and tell your neighbors about the program so they can participate too.

Have you thought about creating a wildlife habitat?










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Ants Are Everywhere: Our Last Spring Series Challenge Entry

Wildside flowers
My wildside is now blooming like crazy.

Better late than never….here is our last Spring Series Challenge for ants. I made this a challenge for my youngest son to go out and quickly find three different spots in our yard where he knew there were ants.

I know that from working around the yard that there are places where we regularly find ants. In fact, last week I was watering our garden and it seems that I disturbed a colony of ants and they were quickly crawling up my legs before I even knew it. Let’s just say that I decided the best course of action was to turn the hose on myself and wash them all away. It must have looked rather funny….you can picture me wearing a skirt with ants crawling all over my legs….then me drenched with cold hose water doing a little “ants in my pants” dance.

Here are the three photos that my son took as he completed my mini-challenge for ants.

Ants in the rocks
Ant on the rocks

Ants on the tree
Ant on the tree

Ants on the sidewalk
Ants on the sidewalk

I found a few more this morning during my outdoor time.

Ants on the sunflower
Ants on the sunflower

Ants on the wall going to the bird feeder
Ants on the wall leading up to the hummingbird feeder

English plantain with pollen
I also noticed that on my wildside I now have English plantain blossoming. Can you see the pollen on my fingers from this little flower? It is very pretty up-close and I never even knew we had this in our yard because it usually gets mowed down before it has flowers.

New section of wildside
After we did some pruning a few weeks ago, I added the limbs under a bush near our birdfeeder. I am trying to see what kind of animals and birds will be attracted to this sheltered area adjacent to my wildside. So far I have noticed that the little birds will fly into the pile and then pop out to snatch seeds from under the feeder.

Well that wraps up the whole Spring Series of Challenges for our family. We are busy working on the Summer Series as the weather warms up.


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Wildside Update: Really Wild!

Here is an updated collage of photos from my “wildside”. There were lots of insects this time to observe and the different grasses are so diverse in their growing and the way they make seeds. Some are like velcro and some look almost like wheat. Some are red and some are green or almost yellow.

I am finding this project very satisfying.


Wildside June 2010

If you are interested, here are the other two posts in this series:

Wild Side #1
Wild Side #2

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Nature Study on the Wild Side: Part 2

“The teacher may judge as to her own progress in nature study by the length of time she is glad to spend in reading from nature’s book what is therein written. As she progresses, she finds those hours spent in studying nature speed faster, until a day thus spent seems but an hour.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 7

Everyday now we spend more and more time outdoors in various activities. The sunny skies and warmer temperatures have beckoned us outside to be refreshed and inspired. Nothing like soaking up a little sun in between schoolwork and housework.

Mr. A has become my personal gardener in exchange for some pocket money. I gladly have turned over my weeding and pruning duties to him and he is rather good at making the yard look especially nice. Now I can spend my time doing the more enjoyable tasks in the garden, knowing the weeds will not be ankle deep if I ignore them.

Mr. B and I take a “tour of the garden” during our morning break and each time we find something new and interesting. Yesterday we noticed the columbine is blooming, the day before that we took time to notice the strawberry bed and its multitude of little berries, and before that we watched the bees in the lavender. Just a few minutes outdoors, nothing earth shattering but still refreshing nonetheless.

I have been keeping close watch on my “wild side“. I had to negotiate with my hubby again to keep my little strip of wildness on the side of our house. He agreed that it was an interesting experiment and granted my wish.

Here are some photos from yesterday.
Wild Side 5 5 10
1. Wild Side 1, 2. Wild Side 2, 3. Yellow flower in the Wild side, 4. Pink flower in the Wild Side, 5. Flower gone to see in the Wild Side, 6. Blue flower in the Wild Side, 7. Awesome leaves in the Wild Side, 8. Bleeding hearts in the Wild Side

Looking closer, I am finding a huge variety of living things right there on the side of my house.

Tomorrow I will post our cattail entry….waiting on finishing our notebook pages.

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Keeping it on the Wild Side

We have a section of our yard that I like to keep sort of wild just to see what will happen there. It borders our neighbor’s yard and sometimes he gets a little zealous and mows the “weeds” down. He doesn’t see the beauty in dandelions, Queen Anne’s Lace, Spring Beauty, Chickweed, and California Poppies. Well, maybe he enjoys the poppies, but it is nearly impossible to mow without cutting them all down.

I had a chance to get out there and make some close observations, capturing some of the flowers and plants before our neighbor gets back from his vacation and gets antsy to mow.

Wildside Mosaic 4 9 10
1. Blackberry vines, 2. Wildflowers Spring Beauty, 3. Wild grasses 1, 4. California Poppy, 5. Close Up Dandelion, 6. Wild grasses 2, 7. Widlflowers yellow, 8. Wildflowers blue, 9. Wild side

If you have a spot in your yard that you can let the “weeds” grow, I highly recommend taking the time to check out what you have right there in your own yard.

Amazing stuff.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom