One summer, around the turn of the century, some 4-H kids were selling “Blue Bird” nesting boxes they had constructed from durable plywood and wood screws with a hinged roof lid. The entry holes were supposed to be small enough that only bluebirds could gain entry.
They were ridiculously low-priced. As I recall, the kids’ project was aimed more at enabling Garrard County residents to attract Eastern Bluebirds than it was in making a profit so they were selling them to basically recoup the cost of construction material. If memory serves me correctly, they were five bucks each or six for $20.
Anyway, I bought half a dozen, erected one on a walnut tree in our backyard, another on a telephone pole in the corner of our front yard and gave four away to friends who promised to use them for their intended purpose. I’m not sure how that worked out because I have long since forgotten to whom I gifted them.
The very next spring, a pair of house finches discovered the one on the walnut tree and either the same pair or some of their relatives have used it at least once a year ever since then. The one on the telephone pole had never been used, prior to this year, even though it’s been, in my view, very enticingly hanging there for well over a decade.
Instead of using the scientifi- cally “perfect” box, our never fail Eastern Bluebirds have preferred an old, rotten, hollow locust fence post that was located near the back of the house that was put there well over a hundred years ago. Somewhere along the way it had developed a perfectsized knot hole that allowed the birds to gain access to its relatively vast interior.
The birds apparently considered it a mansion, but last summer, well after nesting season, we decided to build our Labrador retriever a quarter acre run/ball/ Frisby field, fully intending to use the bluebird condo as a corner fence post.
Turned out that it was so rotten that it literally crumbled when we tried to attach fence wire to it and it had to be replaced with a steel fence post, too narrow for a bird hole.
I worried all last winter that we had, most likely, destroyed, no matter how unintentionally, any incentive the bluebirds might have to grace our place with their friendly, colorful presence. But three weeks ago they showed up and immediately commenced checking out the phone pole nesting box.
Turns out they seem to love the new place, but probably not as much as I love watching them come and go. Unlike the old nesting place where I only caught fleeting glimpses of them, the new abode has made them take up with our front yard shrubbery, street sign pole, mail and newspaper boxes, flower/vine trellises and even our front porch railing.
I know they’ll be gone in a few weeks, but, in the meantime I can think of no friendlier nor more beautiful lawn ornaments than the lovely Eastern Bluebirds who have adopted us again, in spite of ourselves,
In other news, speaking of lawn ornaments, Shell’s Greenhouses on highway 52 between Paint Lick and Lancaster have been open for several weeks, but last Thursday was the first opportunity Loretta and I have had to do an extended, seriousshopping visit. Lo shops while I just walk around the structures that feel like football fields under roof decorated with hundreds, if not thousands, of hanging baskets and potted flowers, many with names that I can’t even pronounce. I always think to myself that Heaven will look and smell like this. I’m still not sure why they are called “greenhouses” because they are so full of every color of the rainbow and then some.
Anyway, we met up with our good friend/buddy, Lynn Embaugh, who loves the place almost as much as we do if that is possible. While the women filled up their/our vehicles with plants, enough to keep Loretta busy with trowels and potting soil until well after dark, I sat around and chewed the fat with one of the proprietors, Kentucky State Representative Jonathan Shell and Brandon Gibson, who was managing sales last week.
I’m not sure why they don’t charge admission just to go inside one of the half dozen or so facilities that are open to the public because I would gladly pay to just go in and shoot pictures.
I’ve said it before and I say it again, a trip to Shell’s Greenhouses is a huge treat even if you don’t purchase a thing. And they’ll be glad you came because they know that once you’ve enjoyed the place, you’ll go home and talk about it.
I don’t believe they have a website, per.se, but you can get a ton of information as well as more precise directions from this Facebook posting: www.facebook.com/ pages/Shell-Farms-Greenhouses/ 145482618853570.
However, if you are driving on US 52, halfway between Paint Lick and Lancaster, you can’t possibly miss the place if you see well enough to drive. You may also smell the flowers a mile or so before you get there. Loretta says it’s just my imagination, but I honestly believe that, late in the day, with the window rolled down, I can smell flowers on the evening breeze long before the greenhouses come into the view.