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Gardening For wildlife, Red twig Dogwood
May 21, 2012

Thank you Everyone.

Your responses to and comments let me know that favorite birds was a huge success this time.

It is always a joy to read what others say and what makes a favorite bird.

How diverse yet many ways in common we all are.

Every so often, I come across something, and this bird nest was one that really captured me.

Checkout the craftsmanship and skill used to build this Red-winged blackbird nest.

Notice how she carefully wove the cat tails together with her nest.

God given talents my friend.

Instant summer.

It has been a crazy year weather wise, as it now feels like mid-July.

We are still in the need of some rain around here.

The orioles are enjoying the oranges and grape jelly.

This is a treat, as the orioles have ignored us the past few years for some reason.

As you can see, even the Cardinals enjoy a nibble on the orange (regular visitors).

Also, the Red-bellied woodpeckers will snag a quick bite and I have witnessed a squirrel running off with and orange half a couple of time now.

I've even seen a Monarch butterfly or two.

Why not, most everything else is early this year.

Karen and I made our yearly trek to the country and greenhouses to get a few things we would like to plant.

We enjoy the drive and the selections direct from the growers.

Afterwards, we have lunch and head home.

Simply put, we enjoy a half day together and get something accomplished.

I am a bit upset....

A male House wren found the Chickadee box and nest.

Needless to say, they is no more nest.

The box was cleaned out completely, and I mean clean.

I know this is always a possibility, but I do like my little black caps and was hoping for another brood to visit me and hand feed for a time.

A reminder:

Next week Monday is 'Memorial Day' .

I don't know if I should say already, or it's about time.


That means next week's letter will come to you on Tuesday the 29TH.

Today's letter,

"Gardening For Wildlife"


Gardening For Wildlife is an environment that is attractive to various forms of wildlife such as birds, mammals amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, and other insects,

A wildlife garden will usually contains a variety of habitats that have either been purposely created by the gardener, or allowed to self-establish by minimizing maintenance and intervention.

Though some exotics may also be included, the wildlife garden will predominantly feature a variety of native species.

I am guilty of have some exotics, Like Tea roses, Peony, Iris, Astilbe and a double white French lilac that goes back to my great aunt Edith and a couple of Butterfly bushes

Exotics that are non invasive in my neck of the woods (though Butterfly bush is now considered invasive in mild climates).

Most of the introduced species have special meaning or came as gifts.

Of course, most annuals are introduced, and offer a buffet table for the pollinators ( I am slowly reducing this too).

Most of my gardens and little habitats are native plants as I attempt to make more and more of them regional plants.

Generally these will be a part of the pre-existing natural ecology of an area, but managed in a way that is enhanced rather than damaged by the process of cultivation.

As in other forms of gardening, aesthetics plays a central role in deciding what is 'right'.

I find that sometimes we can copy nature with outstanding results for eye appeal and attracting wildlife.

There are a few super-beneficial plants that bloom for a long time, and yield abundant nectar and pollen, or bear fruit throughout the year.

Plants, such as the Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium) and Goldenrod (Solidago), support a whole community of beneficial insects, bird and other small creatures.

It is essential for you and me to understand the wildlife gardening concept, and the appreciation of the symbiotic relationships between plants and animals.

This interdependence is the result of species that were Created for one another so both plant and animal can thrive and survive.

So much emphasis is placed on native forbs (flowering plants and grasses), that we tend to ignore many of our native shrubs and trees that are so important for food, protection and nesting sights.

When Gardening For Wildlife you act in accordance with the idea of keeping plants that are native to the area preeminent in the garden.

You can even specialize in creating Hummingbird Gardens, Gardens to Attract Birds, Butterfly Friendly Yards, And don't forget to offer Fresh Water.

Exotics, though they may provide shelter or some food, they Simply don't get the job done and compete with the plants the native animals have always depended upon, either for the nectar and fruits they bear.

Besides, many non native species (plant and animal) have few or no natural enemies or ways to keep them in check.

The natural landscape is slowly being overrun by more aggressive exotic plants as they choke out the native plant life.

There are Four Basic Habitat Types which should be included in your garden to maximize the wildlife species that will occur in your region and the garden.

The Open Area, the space of the garden where the area is relatively exposed as regard to other areas of the garden.

In most cases this area comprises the lawn, although it may consist of low-growing ground-covers and annuals.

The Exclusion Area, is an area more dense, where trees are an important component to this area.

Trees offer hiding places and protection and places to raise a family.

The Canopy or understory is a lively place in any wildlife setting.

Here we see at eye level the nesting sights, shrubs that offer food and more protection.

Often the canopy region gives you a four season eye appeal.

Water and wetlands. All life needs water, indeed, our planet was created from water.

You can offer up a source of water as simple as a saucer on the ground, a bird bath, a puddle, to as complex as a running water garden or pond and man man lake if you don't have one.

With these four steps in place, you have a wildlife garden and in time, nature will find you.

Here is a great native shrub for most wildlife landscapes.

Red Twig Dogwood (Red Osier Dogwood):

A true four season shrub for any landscape.

Zone: 2 to 8
Height: 6 to 10 feet
Spread: 6 to 10 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Color: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium

The shrub also offers good fall color, showy fruit, and winter interest.

It also attracts birds and butterflies.

Tolerates clay soil, wet soil and deer.

Widely used in erosion control, hedge rows, and rain gardens.

This species of dogwood is a rapid-growing, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub which grows to a maximum size of 6-10' tall with a loose, rounded habit.

The outstanding ornamental feature of this plant is its bright red winter stems which are particularly showy against a snowy backdrop.

Tiny white flowers appear in flat-topped clusters (to 2.5" diameter) in late spring, with sparse, intermittent, additional flowering sometimes continuing into summer.

Flowers give way to clusters of white or blue berries in summer.

My cultivated Red twig has white berries, the Wild red twigs around here produce a purple/blue berry, while I understand that some cultivars also produce a reddish/white fruit.

Fruit is quite attractive to birds and small mammals, and is generally considered to have more ornamental interest than the flowers.

Ovate to lanceolate, dark green leaves (2-4" long) have curling hairs underneath.

Foliage turns an attractive reddish purple in autumn.

For added beauty, there are a few cultivated varieties that offer a variegated foliage.


Best grown in organically rich, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade.

Tolerant of a wide range of soils, including swampy or boggy conditions.

The best red color occurs on young stems.

Although pruning is not required, many gardeners choose to remove 25-30% of the oldest stems in early spring of each year to stimulate growth of new stems which will display the best red color.

As an alternative to annual pruning, some gardeners (including myself) prune all stems close to the ground in early spring every 2-3 years to renew and vitalize the bush as a whole.

(Don't throw the cuttings away, you can propagate as many new Red twig bushes as you want from these cuttings.)

Any loss of flowers through spring pruning is not terribly significant since the small flowers of this dogwood are rather ordinary.

Not to mention, you should get some blooms later and a small berry crop for late summer into autumn.

Garden Uses:

Effective in naturalistic plantings in moist soils where plants are allowed to spread and form thickets.

Also effective as property line screens.

Plants perform very well in wet locations along streams or ponds where spreading roots help combat soil erosion.

Also effective in shrub borders
where plants can be combined with yellow twig dogwoods for an interesting bi-color winter stem display.

The red twig dogwood, is very handsome and eye appealing in a winter setting especially with a sprinkling of snow to set off the red stem color.

A native plant, the red twig dogwood is an excellent plant for massing in large areas, and because of its interesting stem color and dense growth it is an excellent choice for a shrub border in residential landscapes.

It can be an effective hillside shrub for it holds soil quite well.

Many people cut the red stems for Christmas season Decor.

Not a good shrub for the deep south gardens.

You don't need all of these components to attract certain wildlife.

A little protection nearby, a few flowers and water, maybe a bird feeder and you can attract birds and butterflies to an apartment balcony.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

"Only a mediocre man is always at his best."

W. Sommerset Mangham

My good friend Harv Danial sent me the above quote.

Like me, he appreciate a good quip from time to time.

The definition of mediocre can read like this:

Second rate, Inferior ..... of low or inferior quality.


Yet, God loves a meek person and broken heart.

The Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth".
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".

Matthew 5: 3-5

"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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