Extreme Makeover – Nest box edition

Do you remember my first attempt building a nest box, last spring? Well it wasn’t really a success, April was too late to hung a nest box and let’s be honest here: I am really bad in DIY. Thank God my dad is very good in making things out of junk and saturday we gathered some timber pieces and made four rather nice nest boxes (but one has been immediately stolen by my sister).
My dad is such an old grumpy bear most of the times so it has been kind of weird watching him make bird nest boxes.

nest boxes before and after

There are three models from left to right: the pretty one, the modern one (with a plastic cover to protect the roof) and the heavy one (made of the heaviest timber material I’ve ever seen, actually it came from one of my aunt’s 70‘s piece of furniture). I bet I may find a fat branch to hang this last one.
When I got home I painted the boxes with two coats of light blue, mainly to protect them and maybe to soften those red and green so they won’t scare the birds.

This morning when I got up the weather had changed again to clouds and rain but I fixed one of the nest boxes to the birch where birds usually come to feed. I hope they will notice this new house and maybe will come back in a few months to nest. Meanwhile I will stay by the window watching them as still as Psycho’s stuffed mother and will report you any news…


I can’t go to my parents without making a tour of the local nurseries with mum, and saturday wasn’t different. There isn’t so much to see at this time of the year but I had a few money my parents gave me for my birthday on my pocket and a lot of ideas on how to give them away (the money, not my parents). I needed some evergreen shrub to fill up the west side of the garden, under the willows, there are no perennials nor grasses that could grow in such dry partial shade and I’d need something to disguise the view of the old house in front of mine, especially now that I have cut the grasses to ground.

Eleagnus Eleador Lannou

I bought two cotoneaster, one is franchetii and the other is lacteus, both of them are supposed to get 3 meter tall and large, although they look pretty much the same, in fact they had no labels and now I can’t pick one or the other… nevermind.
I also got two eleagnus ‘Eleador Lannou’, apparently pretty much the same as other well known variegated forms like ‘Limelight’ or e. maculata aurea but this one seems to have a more intense and chartreuse hue. As you may know I normally don’t like variegated plants but also I love chartreuse (the colour, not the liquor), so this was really a bother. I decided to give it a try at the end, although I am not sure whether to plant them there or maybe in a pot.
I also found a nice little plant of calycanthus praecox and I brought it home. This is the right moment to buy such plant since all its ‘pros’ are concentrated in January and then you have the next 11 months of ‘cons’. But it wouldn’t be my birthday without the scent of sweetshrub in the chilly air (and since this plant has no flowers I won’t turn 33 until it blooms).


22 thoughts on “Extreme Makeover – Nest box edition

  1. I like your nest boxes very much; I want to put up an owl box as we always have owls who seem to bring their young to our roof and it is very hot for them during the day (in summer). I must buy a calycanthus praecox I love shrubs that flower in winter and are perfumed. Christina

    • Hi Christina! Do buy one, the scent is unique even though the shrub itself isn’t showy at all during the rest of the year. Only here in Veneto every house has a calycanthus? I shall pay more attention the next time I travel around…
      Owls, fantastic! Do they nest up a tree if you prepare a proper box for them or should it be in a more sheltered position?

    • Thanks Donna. My mum loves plants, I bet I took after her in almost everything. When I was young she drove me around at nurseries, now that she’s getting old I drive her around.

    • Hi Jason! I know, he’s helping me doing a lot of things with the house too. Maybe I am so bad in DIY just because I can count on him so I developed other skills… like… well I don’t recall any particular skill at the moment but I’ll let you know.

  2. Alberto, happy birthday to you, you young thing. The bird houses look adorable. I really like the color — and at this time of year it’s nice to see color in the garden. It will be so exciting when feathered residents move in.

  3. Happy Birthday! How fun to go to the plant nurseries with your mom and get some new plants! And I love the nest boxes! I really like them painted blue. I bet they will be a hit with the birds.

  4. Love the colour of your bird boxes, hope the birds do too! you are so lucky to have a dad to make them for you. Love your choice of plants that you bought, is the calycanthus hardy, would love one here?!

    • Pauline, you with your posts pushed me to buy some evergreen shrubs and I’m glad you did it. As you can see the calycanthus isn’t evergreen at all, pale yellow flowers appear at this time of the year directly from the wood, the scent is so strong! The rest of the year you’ll have just a standard green oval leaved shrub (small tree). The plant is totally hardy and easy to grow.
      There are another variety that has brownish red flowers that smells like crushed peppers, it flowers later, with leaves on, but the scent isn’t as strong as praecox and the shrub is very slow growing.

  5. I don’t know calycanthus at all but am interested in your choices as I assume they will all cope with periods of dryness and my soil is very free draining and thin. Odd as I am gardening in such a different environment from yours to think that what works for you might very well work for me! Love the bird boxes too!

    • Hi Elizabeth! It’s very odd that nobody seems to know calycanthus… It is such an obvious plant around here, every garden has one. It is a very tough plant and the scent is something between jasmine and citrus. I might post some pics of my mum’s plant.

    • Hi Alistair! I’ll take it as a compliment although gardening is a strong passion rather than a skill, for me.
      Selling bird boxes on eBay could be a great idea, I shall think of it!

  6. Hi, Alberto! I love your birdhouse remodels! I read once that bluebirds are drawn to birdhouses painted blue. I don’t know if you have bluebirds in your part of the world, but some birds will certainly love your houses.

    You asked about the birdhouse which I featured on my own blog. I am sure it was chewed by a squirrel. Those dastardly creatures are famous for doing that here. We have a few woodpeckers, but they prefer to hammer holes into the siding of our house. Bluebirds and wrens usually nest in our houses, but we have a wide variety of birds, and other species have nested in the various houses around our property.

    • I’m counting to build other houses and scatter them around the garden too. I have 4 so far.
      I don’t actually know if we have bluetits here, or at least I’m sure I’ve never seen one before. We have a lot of bigtits and wrens and robins actually. But I’m still a newbie with birds….

  7. Pingback: Rose Boom | AltroVerde

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