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Gardening On My Mind
January 20, 2020

Winter continues to be Topsy, Turvey.

Up and down.

This weekend we had more snow, some rain and well......................

Not a typical Michigan winter.

All is well around here.

Pictured again are a couple of the deer that frequent our yard.

This particular mom and her young son are regulars.

Anytime of day, or night.

Mom walks with a severe handicap.

We don't know if she was hit by a car or something else happened (notice the way her hind slopes and she walks with a gimp and has very poor posture.

We know she they started to show up a couple months ago in a bad way, and now everyday.

Typically I don't encourage deer, as they graze on many of my green and flowering plants during spring-fall.

We however, have been feeding these two, as we feel for them.

I know the day will come when I have to stop and start using deer repellents.

But right now we feel sorry, and want her to make it (the young buck is a good looking fellow).

He is last year's baby, and will leave his mom later this year.

Also pictured are some of our Northern Cardinals.

The white of the snow really brings out their beauty.

Not only the feeders bring birds and wildlife into our yard, it is the natural gardening as well.

Yes, "Gardening For Wildlife."

You may wonder why I'm bringing up gardening, this time of year.

Why not?

You're busy thumbing through catalogs, maybe placing orders.

Itching to get out there and get your hands dirty.

Now, you need plans and ideas for planting and attracting your favorite wildlife.

Smart gardeners will plan ahead.

Besides, I have gardening on the brain this time of year, so please bear with me and maybe pick-up a tip along the way.

Many birds are drawn into our yards year round because of what we plant.

These birds become aware of their surroundings, and may even feel a bit comfortable hanging out in your country or suburban yard.

Many species can adapt to humans, but most cannot adapt to the lack of habitat.

Each region and location within a region, has native plants with value to native wildlife.

While most of us want the newest and latest exotic plant to add to our gardens, it is usually the native plants that add the most value for wildlife.

Now some introduced plants do offer a good source of food, they may also be very invasive.

Small examples are,

Russian olive is in some places is a valued food source for birds, but is also a very invasive small tree.

As are Japanese Honeysuckle vines and bushes.

The invasive list is quite large.

Native plants are food for native insects.

Insects bring in the birds.

Nature's, all natural insecticides.

See how this works?

(A rare winter sunrise in SW. MI.)

Considering the site:

Each site has its own combinations of assets and limitations.

Even in the middle of some urban areas, some of the best wildlife drama unfolds.

An established garden has trees, understory plantings and a self-seeding core of plants.

You may have a grove of trees reaching maturity. This provides considerable value that even extends into its declining years when hollow trunks offer nest cavities.

Brush piles, decaying leaf litter and other organic materials enrich the soil and create feeding and shelter for many kinds of wildlife.

Physical features on the site can be equally important as well.

A natural water feature provides water for drinking and habitat.

Moderate slopes and varied terrain help to divide the garden into different habitat zones such as shade and sun.

Physical extremes can limit a garden's potential.

But you will learn what lives and grows in your area in those extremes and take advantage of it.

Even a very small lot has the ability to create habit variety.

For example, a well planned window box can draw a host of visitors.

Soils can limit what you can grow, but know what grows there or amend the soil.Sandy or clay soils can limit plant growth.

The best type of soil is a combination of sand, silt and clay.

This is called loam (there goes the nurseryman in me).

You may need a soil test to determine the soil PH.

Some plants prefer acid soil.

Some plants prefer Alkaline soil.

While others like it more neutral

Neighborhood factors can also diminish a garden's potential.

Isolation from sources of wildlife immigration and migration is a serious concern, though less so in the case of particularly mobile animals like birds and butterflies.

A background of heavy urban noise constrains animals dependent on vocal communication and will deter the more weary from entering a site.

Well placed trees, shrubs and berms can help to alleviate noise pollution.

Pollination and Other Partnerships:

The relationships between local animals and plants, as well as plants and other plants are a fascinating part of creation.

Mutualism describes a type of mutually beneficial relationship between organisms of different species.

It is also called a 'symbiotic relationship', in which two different species interact with and in some cases, totally rely on one another for survival.

Do some planning and planting and you can encourage such partnerships in your gardens.

Cooperative relationships, such as hummingbird and butterfly pollination, in which all parties benefit is one kind of partnership.

But there is also natural predator-prey relationships in which the system, not the individual, benefits.

For example, Lady-bugs and their larvae will devour the Black aphids that appear on plants like sagebrush in the spring.

The absence of all pesticides allows insects to prey and pollinate unimpeded.

Yes organic insecticides can do more harm than good under certain conditions.

Without pollinators, where would we be?

God created a unique system, and now we must lend a helping hand.

Why not, we are Stewards of out planet aren't we?

Creating Successful Wildlife Habitat:

In the absence of nature, .........

Plant to suit the natural topography, low points are suited to moisture-loving plants or water features and a high, sloping bank is ideal for dry rockeries.

Shield the garden from winds, especially cold winter wind.

Introduce food plants favored by animals in your region and that you have targeted.

Strive for diverse plantings, follow nature's Que.

Coordinate habitat with water use.

Locate some food plants and feeders in more secluded areas of your property to attract the shy ground feeding, and dwelling animals.

Eliminate or minimize the use of pesticides, they will unbalance the predator-prey relationships natural gardening helps to create.

Arrange plantings of trees, shrubs and ground covers to lead shy wildlife closer to your house for better viewing.

Supplement food plants with feeding stations.

Offer water and boost nesting opportunities with nest-boxes.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle."

George Chopra, author

From the word of God.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-14

"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.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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