|Back to Back Issues Page|
Your Landscape and Garden Plans for Wildlife.
May 18, 2009
It looks like the graphics have been repaired and I can display them in a way I prefer to.
If and when you send pictures and you want them shown, they must be at 50 KB or less or I can't use them.
That's simply the way this system works.
Happy Victoria Day to our Canadian friends.
If I am correct, Victoria Day is the official celebration in Canada of the birthdays of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.
Much like Presidents day here in the United States.
Speaking of holidays..................
Next week Monday (May 25) is Memorial day in the United States so next weeks letter will come out on Tuesday.
The unofficial start of summer.
Us Northerners are now in full gear with planting, camping, you name it.
Now if the weather will cooperate.
This past weekend produced scattered frost :-(
Thankfully I didn't have the tenders planted.
Sunset is now past 9:00 and temperatures are still below normal for this time of year.
April's showers continue for May, as we have had some timely rains and thankfully no destructive storms here.
What is ironic.....................
For years Michigan was in some kind of drought and lake levels dropped.
More than 3 feet at one time for Lakes Michigan and Heron.
That is a lot of water.
Now lake levels are slowly returning (inland lakes as well) and people are complaining about loosing beaches.
First they complain about loosing water and where to park the boat and now this...................
There is no pleasing some people.
I am so happy to see lake levels increasing and they still aren't at the cyclical average yet.
No sooner than last week's letter went out and I saw my first hummer of the season.
A female Ruby.
I haven't seen any males, however.
Still, I think that makes the season complete as far as birds and bird sightings go.
Though I always hope for the rare sighting.
Lilacs are in full bloom and the aroma is intoxicating.
I know they are introduced, but you need one just for your own sniffer.
Pollintaors don't mind them either.
Wild Dogwood trees are lookng mighty fine right now as well.
Dogwoods are one of those trees that look better in a natural setting, don't you think?
I like to experiment and mess around trying different things
I'm also frugal.
The past couple of years I've kept Pineapple sage and Black and blue salvia alive over winter by placing a trash bag of tree leaves on top of them once I cut them back.
Not only is it rewarding to see the plants come back bigger and better, but it also saves me a few bucks.
For the fun of it, last fall I placed a bag of leaves on one of Karen's Gerbera daisies.
I had given up on it coming back, but this past week there is life and lots of it.
This plant is returning bigger and better as well.
This is fun...........................
The salvia and sage are zone hardy to Zone 7.
The Gerbera daisy is hardy to Zone 8.
Not bad for a Zone 5 region.
Amazing what a bag of leaves can do for insulation.
If you don't mind bags wintering over, this is a way to save a few bucks.
Keep the leaves for some rich leaf mold this fall.
Today's letter features some goodies from several readers.
The past couple of weeks I've asked for garden plans and ideas and you have come through once again.
I like doing this for several reasons.
It gives you a chance to participate in YOUR newsletter.
Readers from across the United States and Canada get to read what fellow gardeners and nature lovers are doing or plan to do.
Many of you have commented in the past that you enjoy these sessions
You may get some ideas.
You give me a break and write much of a letter for me.
Take your time, it is a long letter.
Without hesitation, let me introduce
Today, we start out with a pair of Lou's
Everyone knows that a pair of Lou's beats a fullhouse any day of the week. :-)
Lou from NJ.
This year I would like to just sprinkle some wildflower perennial mix in my sunny location so I would have flowers every year instead of planting annuals. I have added a couple new hanging baskets this year (fuchsias) under my overhang on the front porch hoping to attract some hummers. I have never had these type plants before so well see what happens. I am thinking of adding a small garden of just columbines, different colors in another sunny location that is 3' by 4'.
I will have to do some research on what they like before doing the project though.
Lou, Fuchsia are native to South America and like many of our plants, the hummers seem to be familiar with them.
While research is always a good thing, Columbines will do well in sun or shade, well drained soil. Add some organic material if you can.
Lou in Lowell, MI.
First off, making a big ole Butterfly - Hummingbird garden. We used to have a 27 foot pool, but it's gone. Going to remove some of the white/play sand, and then start planting. (Well, already started ha ha) Going to have several clumps of Ornamental grass that I got from a fellow. Then I've got a bunch of Herbs for one section. Cosmos, Delphinium, and some other flowers. Also have several bushes to go in.
Other than that, mostly what strikes our fancy. Hopefully it'll all work out. Then if I've got any energy left at all, we want to put in a pond/waterfall feature. We've got the big/bottom pond, and an upper smaller waterfall part. I just have to get energy to do the digging, and try to muddle through it. I'm not much of an architect, or yard designer. Hope we can get it done, but nothing is definite. That's my plans for the summer. Just taking it a day at a time, and seeing how things work out.
Lou, I feel the energy sapping from me just reading this. You have your hands full and I hope you can get it finished to enjoy this year.
Nothing like habitats and moving water to bring in the wildlife.Karen in Maumee, Ohio
I plan to plant a couple different kinds of salvia, red hot poker, and nictotiana to attract hummingbirds. I started these indoors in February and look forward to getting them in the yard. The goldfinches really seemed to like my cosmos last year so I'll be setting some of those out again this year for them. For the butterflies, I will be planting bronze leaf fennel, dill, and Dame's Rocket. I'll also be putting out a mix of marigolds and zinnias.
Last year, the butterflies really seemed to enjoy both of those in my yard. I over wintered two pots of lantana that I will be putting back out on the patio too.
Karen, a nice mixture of native and introduced plants that will attract a multitude of birds and pollinators. Enjoy the activity around you.
Diane in Derby, N.Y.
I have numerous feeders in the yard. My husband made me a lot of birdhouses. We have birds in all of them,making nest. He just put them up a few weeks ago and they took them over.
I also have a golden dog. After brushing his hair, I leave it on the grass for the birds to take to their nests.
We have hummingbird feeders and oriole feeders. I have seen a lot of orioles feeding on the oranges. I have also seen one hummingbird . I have also two finch feeders and they are eating me out of house and home already.
I love my birds.
Diane is an old timer that recently found us again.
Welcome back Diane and take care of your birds and wildlife habitats.
Victoria in Placerville, CA.
This year I plan on planting my first veggie garden! I know a lot about gardening and composting, but have never had the chance..
We just bought our house 18 months ago, and are really concentrating on the outside this summer. So, this year, I plan on planting anything I can get my hands on!!
I want a lot of flowers that attract hummers...we have them year round here and have feeders, but it would be fun to attract some with flowers as well.
I love geraniums, and want to plant some more of those too.
Woodpeckers have burrowed a hole in our tree!! We are waiting for the little ones to start popping their heads out.
How fun for you Victoria.
The photos were much to large for me to use (my apologies), but your woodpecker appears to be Hairy.
Planning and planting can be overwhelming, but what fun you ave to look forward to.
California as many, many native flowers and plants to attract hummers and other feathered life to your yard.
Watching the woodies will be educational as well as entertaining.
Michele - Edmonton, Alberta
My favourite creature in my garden are dragonflies. This year I am planting more delphiniums to attract them. The dragonflies tend to rest on the very tops of them for a few seconds before flitting off again throughout my yard.
I sit on my deck for hours at a time during the summer, just watching them. Amazing creatures, and so beautiful.
Michele, a water garden or water nearby is a can't miss for dragonflies. They enjoy feeding on the insects and lay their eggs on the water.
I feel a newsletter coming on.
Josephine from Tilton, IL.
My trees are getting bigger now and really filling out so I seem to be getting more birds. I planted lots of seeds, wildflowers and a butterfly mix. Bought a hanging basket of Lantana for my hummies, if and when they get here! Have four feeders up but so far all I've seen is an oriole drinking from one of them. Would like to get some berry bushes yet, so far all I have is a small Currant. Trying to find a spot for a cherry tree and an ash tree but I think I'm just about out of room, we'll see!
Josie, I'm quite sure you need a male and female currant to have fruits on the female.
A heads up:
Anyone living in the Great Lakes region needs to keep an eye on your American ash trees. Emerald Ash Borer is wiping out Michigan's Native ash trees. EAB is a Chinese insect that is taking its toll on out native ash trees.
Chemicals are available and must be put on yearly, This can be costly, but will save your trees.
Paulette near Pleasant View, TN.
This year my husband, Charlie, and I plan to kill our areas of fescue, old pasture grass, and plant large areas of food plots with short and long stem blue-stem. It is supposed to be a favorite of wildlife and offer more food value than fescue.
Paulette, you're my kinda girl :-)
Going native is always better all the way around and yes, both offer forage and seed. Fall colors are attractive too.
Marti- Lake Milto, OH.
Things to do this spring: I plan to get a few more perennials. Added a variegated Jacob's Ladder, it'soing well. Keep digging up aggressive plantlets from a mint-type plant I planted 2 years ago.
Maybe add another clematis Keep chasing that darling granddaughter! Enjoy being outside and birdwatching Take fishing boat rides on the lake and hope to see the Bald Eagle.
Marti, we learn from our mistakes (hopefully). Going after invasives can be a chore, but one we can win.
It is always a blessing to hang out with children isn't it.
Bald Eagles, I hope you see it several times. So nice that they continue a strong come back.Jan in Brandon, MS.
I recently added 3more butterfly bushes to my yard to attract more butterflies and hummers. I made 4 new toad houses to add to the 2 I already had. My DH just finished a new feeding station for our yard and that is it for this Spring..Never know what next year will bring! Alright Jan.
Taking care of the forgotten creatures. Toads play an important part in our gardens.
Now get out there, relax and enjoy the rest of the year.
Sharon in Hallettsville, Texas
Our 5 acres is surrounded by hundreds of acres full of many types of oak and other trees and brush, so we really enjoy the abundant wildlife living in the country provides. Our Spring weather comes early, so I have been planting and digging since early March. This year I wanted to attract even more butterflies to my yard, and I added host plants to my already existing adult butterfly-attracting plants. For the very first time I was able to see the caterpillars from Monarch butterflies munch and grow on a butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)--what an amazing thing to watch!
I have added a Passion Vine that hosts the Gulf Fritillary, Cosmos for the Painted Lady, Zinnia for the Skippers, and have plenty of Black Swallowtail-loving dill weed & parsley planted too in addition to the many, many other plants and flowers that are butterfly magnets here.
I already have a birdbath that is frequented by my feathered friends, but I will also be adding several large stones to different areas in my garden, so that the butterflies will be able to sun themselves and drink from the water left in the little indentations on the stones. I got my first hummingbird this year on April Fool's day, and now I have 4 feeders up; I added Salvia, Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis), and other nectar-producing plants just for them this past year.
I have lots of sunflowers planted and I keep a platform bird feeder full of the black oil sunflower seed for the little finch, titmouse, cardinals, doves and various other birds to feast on. I plan to add 2 or 3 Bluebird nesting boxes for the lovely Eastern Bluebirds that come to snack on the bugs in my yard too.
Most of what I plant now is to attract these 'flying flowers' and/or birds, and my husband and I feel so blessed these beauties grace us with their presence and song -- it is definitely worth the effort!
Great job Sharon, I can't add much to that.
Enjoy all your wildlife as they thank you for your time.
Norma in Parrott, GA. To increase my feathered visitors, I have added a concrete feeder to my repertoire. This feeder was fun to make and within two days after filling it with seed, cardinals were eating their hearts out.
This is how my project started . . . Everything optional, except the coffee and concrete . .those are MUSTS.
I lined a wheelbarrow with an old shower curtain and piled sand in it to the contour of how I wanted my finished project. I then selected the leaf I wanted - which in this case was an Elephant Ear. After mixing the concrete, I poured it over the inverted leaf (covered with Saran Wrap) about an inch thick.
I used the green vase you see in the first photo as a 'stand' for the feeder. Before the concrete hardened, I inverted the vase over it to get an absolute marking as to where my indentations should be to receive the final product. As I completed the big feeder, I saw I was gonna have concrete mix left over . .I went and grabbed a smaller leaf and made my granddaughter a small feeder. After a few days, I sanded off the rough edges of the concrete; then allowed both to cure for two weeks before sealing and painting. Notice how the veins of the Elephant Ear are so prevalent.
Final Project . . . . It is actually sitting on that green vase . .but it doesn't show in this photo. If you want to feature this feeder, I'll get photos showing the stand and hopefully with a few cardinals (if I can maintain the patience) eating from it!
This was my first bird feeders and I expect the ones I make this year to be better. Already I have had people ask me what I'd charge to make them one . . .ahhhhhhhhhhhh . .the ultimate compliment! Norma, that must've been a fun task and the end results look nice.
Norma sent me graphics with her directions, Until I can figure out how to shrink pictures, I am not able to show things, My apologies Norma.
Donna - Quitman, TX
This year I decided it was time to rebuild my brush pile. I keep one going to give the birds a quick place to hide or to nest in. I frequently see them sitting on the branches singing.
I started with 3 different sizes of pvc pipe for the snake, lizards, etc. Then I added larger branches and crossed them so it would make space for the birds to hide or nest. I kept adding branches and sticks in smaller sizes until it was about 6 feet high. This winter I will put some pine boughs on top for added warmth and protection.
Great job Donna.
Often we think of flowers and shrubs for wildlife, but brush piles play an important roll in any wildlife habitat.
Joe Wilson, NLM in SC.
I've got to get a post planted out front, facing east for the Bluebirds. I'll put a low growing flower bed around this and the flag pole.
I planted two potted "Bee Balm" plants. Wow! are they taking off and growing. I wanted to help the Hummers and Butterflies. I would like to have a few more hummers. We have two now, but more will be here by mid June. I have lots of butterflies(Monarchs, Tiger tails, Gulf Fritilliaries, etc.) So I'm trying to increase the plants they need to survive. I've also planted a couple of Sweat Pea Vines and Cedar Vines which should help the hummers. (they are growing nicely)
Anyhow, I still have plans for a flower bed around my Flowering Crab Apple Tree in which I want Coneflowers, dahlias, more Bee Balm, and others. I agree with you on the birds. There seems to be sooo many extra ones this year. Wow! The Red Cardinals, Yellow Goldfinches, Eastern Bluebirds, House finches sure make a gorgeous morning view. I love it!
Thanks Joe, keep planting and they will come. So many people forget or are unaware that butterflies need host plants to reproduce.
Cal from Snellville, GA.
With the help of my oldest daughter, we have worked two fairly large flower beds. Planted rhododendron, hydrangea, day lilies, forsythia. iris, Covered it with chips. Looks so pretty. Also another area with bird bath, three bird feeders, & hummingbird feeder.
Sounds pretty Cal.
Sounds like a good base for a wildlife garden. Continue to work in some native flowers, shrubs and grasses with your Rhodos and Hydrangea if you can.
Native is always best.
Brenda, Kosciusko, MS.
Now don't get upset....last fall I planted lots of white clover for the bees. It has taken over the lawn and I love it. Realize many others are trying to get rid of it but I know what it does for the Eco-system, bees, and beauty too. It never gets very tall, puts on flowers bees love, and helps out our ---- clay soil.
Have lots of bee balm coming and I did as someone said and snipped it down so it will branch out. Hard to do since the pieces didn't root (I tried) but the plants look good. Have several other hummer flowering plants.
Have planted wild grapes around the perimeter of our small place (1.25 acres) to go with the bushes I let go wild and the trees we are trying to save. There's a dying pine tree that must come down this year. Don't know why it died or how to fix others from doing the same. Lots of the brush we will keep on the property line for the critters.
We keep the bushes wild all around and what trees we have (oak, pecan, pine) Oak trees put on a bumper crop of acorns last fall and they are sprouting up everywhere. Squirrels did not go hungry one day all winter! The pecans are for them also and the birds. White clover?
Brenda.................. haven't I taught you better? LOL (Someone has to give you the business)
Actually, most of us have something we like that isn't native.
Sometimes trees die........... old age, diseases or insects. Dead trees are valuable for wildlife, if you can keep it up or trimmed, I would do so.
Sandy in Albion,NY. After I bought my house and really paid attention to the birds and wildlife, I realized I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a bunch of ash and boxelder out back not to big but just enough to encourage all kinds of different birds. This year there has been a lot of new birds I haven't seen before.
Yellow rumped warblers, Pine siskins, Common redpolls, Hairy woodpeckers, bluebirds and the titmouse has stayed through the winter. I'd like to start some ornamental grass also to dress up a little piece of land that I cleaned up. Just not sure what to get. Any ideas on that?
I must of missed your mothers day letter and I'm learning a lot from your news letters. I'm also starting a new flower garden out in front. It's a tribute to my grandmother who passed last year. It sure is a lot of work digging the grass or sod out. But I'm getting their. I'm going to put in roses and phlox and maybe a hibiscus.
Sandy, Our heart felt sympathy for your loss and how wonderful to build a garden in her honor.
For ornamental grasses, consider some natives like Switchgrass, Big and Little bluestem, Indian grass and other natives that offer forage, seed and protection.
The more food and protection (habitats you can offer, the more birds and varieties you can attract.Billy and Dee in Oak Grove, Louisiana.
Every year we try to add something that gives back to the wildlife that we love so much. This year we have increased the amount planting of native wild flowers on the ditch banks of our property.
This planting of wild flowers not only has made what would have been an other wise weed covered mess, that is to steep to be mowed an eye appealing view.
It also gives both the bees and hummers a variety of flower nectar all through the season and the seed will provide the birds with an abundant supply of food during the fall months.
Later this fall we are also adding 150 to 200 feet of Nellie Stevens Holly Trees. These trees will provide a wind break for us and ample nesting areas each mating season for the numerous types of birds in our zone 8 area, as well as provide fall berries for the birds enjoyment.
We also have plans before the next nesting season to be adding another 16 compartment, gourd rack system for the yearly return of the Martins to our area.
Each year these amazing birds return to the same locations to nest and the off spring are also returning to our location as the generations have begun to multiply. These off spring have increased the past few years to the point it has made it a necessity for the addition of more gourd rack systems to accommodate our growing community of Martins.
It is not only a pleasure for us to be able to watch these birds glide and swoop with their dance of flight. But their singing fills our property with beautifully enchanting music all day long. The presents of these Martins has another plus to our lives in that they greatly reduced the mosquito and other insect populations around our home.
It is an honor to have you as readers like Billy and Dee.
Giving back to "Nature" is a wonderful thing, something all people need to do.
You have my respect as Martin landlords, as this is a serious responsibility that few have the time or are willing to commit to doing so. Or if you are like me, don't have the proper landscape or land to have Purple martins.
I have seen pictures of your colony and I'm impressed on how it continues to grow for you.
Keep up the fantastic work.
Lynne in Homosassa, Florida.
I would like to add a bird bath to my gardens. I planted parsley and dill for caterpillars and bee balm for the bees so they will also pollinate my veggies. My native bottle brush are in full bloom now and a variety of birds are attracted to them as well as bees. I dig out a little more grass for gardens each year and now my back yard is down to paths between the beds- very peaceful. I am also planting wolfberry this year as it makes berries the birds like.
Great job Lynne, it sounds very peaceful and happy. Beats mowing all the time too.
Place your birdbath in an open place yet near protection. Birds need to feel safe to drink and bathe. place very short or no plantings under the bath and have it about 10 - 12 feet from protection.
A wet bird is a slow bird.
I have installed a small artificial pond. All it really is is a large green plastic planting tub I got from our local garden center. I dug a hole deep enough so the tub fit snugly into it all the way up to its rounded outer rim, the only part that rests on the surface ground outside the hole. I filled in the open crevices around the tub so that it is seated in there solidly.
Then I put some large rocks in the bottom of it, and will add thoroughly rinsed pea gravel later on. I filled it with water -- it's a good seventeen inches deep, about the same wide and about four feet long. I have ordered a fountain apparatus the spews 14 inches high, and is solar powered. This should keep the water agitated so it doesn't become stagnant.
I have surrounded the rim of the tub pond with rocks and plants, and plan on putting a few small water lilies or hyacinths inside of it. I'll probably scatter bits of duckweed on the water's surface. The pond is too small for fish, but with some luck, maybe it will attract frogs? It's a nice, aesthetically pleasing feature. Birds can drink from it, as well.
This year, I'm going to try tall Phlox. I've never tried to grow that before, and Springhill Nursery is offering a special on them right now. Combined with the tall snapdragons, delphiniums, foxglove and some blue Baptista, as well as the Asiatic and Tiger lilies that come up each year, and my tall stuff should be taken care of.
Last year, I transplanted two volunteer shoots that sprang forth from my large catmint (nepeta) plant. They are coming back strongly, and should add some additional bluish-lavender to the garden's colorscape.
I like blue flowers. Especially the few that are a rich true blue, like butterfly delphiniums, veronica, and blue salvia. All of this grows well for me.
I also like columbine, and that, too, is returning nicely this year.
The nice thing about perennials is that once they are established, it cuts down substantially on one's need to purchase new plants. Just let nature take its course, and before long, they are adding beauty to the garden, entirely of their own accord. Of course, one must keep them watered and fed and deadheaded -- the usual care you give most plants.
Already, a pair of robins (male and female) are foraging the fishing worms that we release into the garden every year after returning from our annual fishing trip. These are useful earthworms that keep the soil aerated, and also serve as food for hungry robins and other birds.
Jan, isn't it fun to help out the wildlife.
We may start out planting for us, but the nature bug takes over.
After a long winter, spring is always welcome.
Not only do people love the sound of moving water, it is one of the quickest ways to attract wildlife as well.
We finish things off with.......
Steve in Wilkesboro, NC.
This year I have added a red bee balm along with a flowering quince. The bee balm is for butterflies and hummingbirds and the flowering quince in time will have some fruits for the birds.
I also have ordered a passion flower vine (if Parks Seed ever decides to send it). It too should have fruit on it for birds.
Steve, up here the orioles enjoy the quince flowers as well.
Passion vine is also a host plant for a handful of butterflies, so don't panic when you see the larvae munching away.
There you have it, people just like you from different walks of life, from different parts of the United States and Canada.
All of us having the same love of nature and wildlife.
All of us doing something to attract and preserve nature, "Our Heritage"
You may do something simple or can't afford much.
You may be where you want your habitats to be or have that look and feel you want.
You may have the time and money to do it all.
We are still brothers and sisters and we make a good team don't we?
Can I hear an Amen? :-)
Thank You everyone for your participation.
Without great people like yourselves, this wouldn't be possible.
I get a kick out of your participation and others tell me how they enjoy reading about fellow gardeners and nature lovers from around these wonderful countries we live in.
Feel free to look at the
The grasses is a pretty complete set of pages and I'm excited to have them up and running.
Look at other regions as many plants cross boundaries.
I have listed several worthwhile regional natives, but you will want to check with your regional guys to find more native plants. You may want to look at some web pages for refresher courses on birdbaths, hummer feeders, butterflies and more.
Well, it's time to fly for now.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
Read that again.
Now read it out loud............
Read it again if you have to.
This is one very powerful quote my friends.
How many times have you said "That's who I am, or what I am?"
Through much of our life, we have others telling us that is who you are or what you are.
As an adult, you may continue those same train of thoughts and beliefs.
Yet, deep down you feel something else stirring.
Better thoughts or maybe a dream.
Often we say "That's who I am, or what I am, when you may know better.
We say it in a defensive posture.
So many things in life is from our choices and decisions we make in life.
Good and Bad.
For me, I was about 40 years old, when I realized that I didn't have to be what others said about me.
I started to make some choices to improve myself and get out of life's ruts.
All to often we do things by rote.
Where is the excitement in that?
Life is meant to be a journey and as soon as you let go of what you are...................
You can become what you should be.
An exciting, happy, lovable person God intends for you to be, and the person you want to be.
Life is full of choices and we can decide what to be and whom we should be.
I don't know about you, but that makes me smile.
It's nice to know that I can change and improve (it also goes the other way).
Smiles are a step in the right direction as they help us when others wont.
Smiles are a step in helping others and that always helps you too.
Remove the fear and take charge of yourself today.
Become that person you want to be.
Do things you always wanted to do but fear or something seems to get in the way (often choices)
Life is exciting and I'm happy to share with you.
If there is something that needs to be changed........
If it is your choice, then start right now to move forward.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
A better person all the way around.
It'd never to late
Major changes or baby steps, you can do it.
Now smile and get pumped.
That's it for now,
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb
Your friend indeed,
PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.
Better yet, have them sign up so they can recieve their own letters.
|Back to Back Issues Page|