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No Kids Allowed
July 18, 2011

I spotted this little guy/girl while on a walk recently.

I was only 20 or so feet away when I spotted the young fawn.

The picture isn't the greatest and when I moved, in an attempt to catch a better angle, the baby took off into thicker habitat.

Often pictures do little for the moment, and this was one of those moments.

Don't you just love it, when you see all your hours of blood, sweat and tears come to fruition?

Planting seeds.

Transplanting seedlings.

Dealing with dampening off and a few other issues.

Planting annuals and perennials, many you started as babies.

Worrying about cold weather and heavy rains.

Warding off animal attacks.

And those pesky slugs.

Not to mention the time and money involved.

Buying supplies.

Working garden beds.

Planting and caring for.

Weeding, mulching, water, plant food.

Not to mention all the prep work that started last year when you began harvesting seeds and making cuttings.

The list goes on.

Yes, the fruits of your labor are paying dividends.

Whether it be veggies or a kaleidoscope of colors (maybe both).

Your yard and gardens are living proof of your love (and heartache) of gardening.

I prefer the 'Cottage Garden' look as you can see from some of the photos I use in these letters.

You may call it a hodgepodge.

Karen calls it my jungle.

No matter, you can see why this might attract some wildlife.

Not to mention it cuts down on weeding, and that is always a good thing.

It is always difficult to say what my favorite flower or plant is.

Usually it is the one that is blooming right now, and that gives me a big list.

I really like Monarda; 'Marshall's delight'.

What I would call an almost Hot Pink flower, really sticks out in the garden right now.

A plant I have enjoyed for years.

Marshall's Delight, grows to about 2 feet tall (2/3 m).

Slower to spread than many other cultivars of Monarda.

And, it is resistant to Powdery Mildew.

Not to mention, a favorite for hummingbirds.

Yes, I do enjoy a few different species of Monarda, but I always enjoy this particular variety.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all my plants and flowers.

I don't simply garden for wildlife, I garden for us as well.

Well, it is finally happening.

The day has come when I have to start rationing out bird food.

When black oil sunflower seed exceeds $30 dollar a 50# bag ($31.99 and up), it is time for me to ration bird food.

Yes, I limit the amounts of seed and the times of day I choose.

Thankfully, this time of year Nature provides a bounty for birds and other wildlife.

Fruits, berries and insects are plentiful.

A protein, vitamin packed diet.

Insects are a primary food for many species of birds and play an important roll throughout the natural world.

Yes, today's topic starts a small series on insects.


Many of us are proud of our properties.

You may be a backyard gardener, hobby farmer or a professional gardener.

You may be in charge of corporate properties or landscaping for others.

You may even have a title like 'Michigan Certified Nurseryman' or 'Certified Green Industry Professional'.

Could be you are a 'Naturalist', 'Horticulturist Or some other title.

(Sometimes the title comes in handy.)

Your landscapes are a part of your personality.

They help sustain you as you look over our living handiwork.

Now itís time to think of our gardens and landscapes as having another role .........

As places to sustain songbirds and other wild creatures.

As the human population grows, thereís less and less room for wildlife.

Our gardens and landscapes now are vitally important to preserving and sustaining natureís diversityĖbirds, bees, butterflies and others.

The key is native plants.

(Not Again?)

Here me out................

These are plants adapted to local conditions and generally require less maintenance and fewer resources, such as water and fertilizers, than non-natives.

For the last decade plus, there has been a strong trend toward the use of native plants in planning landscapes, both large and small.

And now people are discovering another reason to plant natives .........

Insects ....................

Don't get me wrong...

Like you, I too enjoy some non native shrubs and perennials.

The daisies pictured here attest to that.

Yes, I enjoy some non native like 'Crocosmia', 'Day lilies', 'Bulb lilies', 'Peonies', 'German iris' , 'Siberian iris', and a few others.

I have a 'Double White, French
Lilac a Weigela bush or two and a couple of Buddleia (butterfly bushes).

Some I have because I enjoy and they do offer nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

Others like the lilac bush and some iris are 'Family Heirlooms' and follow me around.

I also enjoy several annuals in my gardens.

However ................

Native plants attract native, leaf-eating insects.

Adults bugs and every other stage in a bugs life.

From egg, to nymph or instars, to adults that feed on other bugs and nectar.

Sounds crazy .....

Not so fast.

If you are like me, the most welcome visitors to our landscapes are the birds.

The locals that stay all year and the birds that pass through or migrate or raise their young here.

But most landscapes, even those with many bird feeders,
offer little to really attract birds, let alone sustain them.

Properties filled with fancy hybrids and exotic plants are putting our songbirds on a starvation diet.

Itís like throwing a party without providing any munchies for your guests.

Hereís why:

Most non-natives are imports from Europe, Asia, Africa and so on.

Some hybrids of the plants that grew here naturally are developed for certain features like deterring insects.

Many of us are still choosing these for our properties.

Why is this a problem?

Virtually all living things rely on plants, either directly or indirectly, for food.

Adults Insects Only:

We like to attract butterflies.

You may have a couple of butterfly bushes just for this reason.

But what about host plants?

They need native plants.

Do you go into panic mode when you see a leaf eating caterpillar or other young insect?

Caterpillars eat plant leaves and many adult insects drink flower nectar and gather pollen.

These insects are a major source of food for birds and other wildlife.

In fact, 96 percent of our native birds raise their young by feeding them with high-protein insects and spiders.

Most of our native insects need native plants to survive.

They simply donít recognize nonnatives as food.

Nature provided for them to feed on only a few kinds of plants.

So in order to have insects for our birds, we need to offer the plants insects recognize, and this means natives.

By growing mostly exotic plants, you deter a new generation of insects.

This in turn keeps birds from visiting your gardens.

You might as well put signs out the say ..............

No Kids Allowed.

What exactly are native plants?

These are the plants that were growing here before European settlers began to arrive and make major changes in the existing habitat and water to survive in local soils.

Plowing the prairie, cutting down forests and introducing plants from

the home country.

Naturalized plants are those that escaped captivity and have become a part of the landscape.

Wild daisies come to mind.

Don't let the name 'Naturalized' fool you.

More and more of us are beginning to recognize the value of native plants.

We know they are best suited to local conditions, and generally donít require large doses of fertilizer and water to survive in local soils.

You are understanding the importance of insects and the need for natural plants and habitats.

"Welcome the Whole Family"

The checks and balances of the natural world keep native plants from becoming invasive plants and keep a healthy insect population to help pollinate, feed our birds, frogs, other insects and more.

Weíre starting to recognize an even more important role for native plants, as a food source for insects, which, in turn, nurture birds and other wildlife.

Will you see insects on non native plants?

Oh sure, but research shows the value of native plants is more than
35 to 1.

It's the non native insects that cause the real problems.

If all goes well, I will continue this series on insects and more.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Interesting how so many positive quotes have a godly feel to them.

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

Proverbs 21-21 (NIV)

"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,

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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