About the Birds and the Bees

My Grandparents had a wonderful garden. The backyard was home to luscious flower beds and a perfect lawn, the garden along the side of the house was used for growing food. I watched my Grandparents proudly processing beans for canning and my Grandma emerging smiling from the little green house with warm, heavenly scented tomatoes. My Grandpa could cut long radishes into paper-thin spirals and one of his favourite treats was a slice of buttered bread with an apple. My Grandma made a lot of jam and jellies. The scent of the bubbling pots was overwhelming on a hot summer’s day.

My Grandpa had one big heartache in his garden and that was his cherry tree. Every year he would prune it, care for it and be upset by the very few cherries he would be able to eat. I actually can’t remember ever eating one. He battled several problems: first of all it was a bit cold for cherries where he lived. Secondly the tree did not get that much sun and the few cherries it grew were eaten by birds.

I have to admit that when I was a kid I had very little understanding why my Grandpa was so upset about this. After all you could just go out and buy some, couldn’t you?

The irony is that all these years later I find out that I am in the same dilemma. I live in an area where sour cherries are rare, so we planted three trees in our garden: one in the front, two in the back. The one in front of the house has a disease and grows very little, but so far has had the most cherries. The two in the back are healthy, but produce about 2 handfuls of cherries each. Last year I had enough for 2 jars of jam, which I hid unlabeled in the back of my pantry.

This year I am off to a good start. There are lots of flowers:

And in a nesting box nearby I found a hive of Bumble Bees.

I don’t think that cherries need to be fertilized by bees, but it can’t hurt, can it. What does hurt are a couple of finches. Those little buggers like to come for a visit and bite off (!) the flowers on the cherry trees. I think they like the sweet nectar in the bottom of them. I watched Mr. Finch picking off 10 flowers in under a minute. Grr! Life is hard for a gardener.

Well, if again my sour cherries fail me, I have my quinces to make me happy. Don’t the flowers look beautiful?