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Gardening For Wildlife, #019 Summer heat means lots of water.
June 04, 2007

This past week brought some instant summer weather.

Temperatures were in the upper 80's and shame on me if I didn't mention the humidity.

Yep, windows are closed and the AC. is on.

Given the choice, I much prefer the windows open so I can hear the birds singing and have the fresh air.

Saturday and Sunday did bring us some much needed rain.

Saturday's rain was the pop up thunderstorms.

You know, the storms that develop in a matter of moments without warning and dump an inch of rain in 15 minutes.

There is something about unstable air that causes that to happen.

Sunday's rain was more predictable and lasted for several hours (no storms).

Often storms fall apart coming across Lake Michigan's cooler water.

I understand there are still some drought conditions in some places.

My walks with Keet are a bit limited now.

We can't explore the fields and woods for now.

Things are just to tall for her to walk through.

Many times we are limited to the deer runs.

The wild daisies and yarrow are in bloom now.

There is usually at least one family of Canada geese at the pond.

Family size consists of one baby to as many as 11 with several in between sizes.

Sometimes they come up and glean under the bird feeders.

Though messy, I do enjoy watching the geese.

The parents always keep the young between them and one adult is always on watch as the young and other parent feed.

That is parenting and team work

Nature always has something to offer on my walks.

If we finally figure it out, our gardens are supposed to be the same way for us.

Our gardens should help relax us and bring us joy.

Do your gardens bring a smile to your face?

Do you feel a bit more relaxed just sitting and admiring the movement of wildlife and the colors and shapes of your flowers and plants?

If not, then you are doing something wrong my friend.

Wildlife gardens are meant to be a reflection of native surroundings and habitats.

I can get lost in nature.

I can lose track of time.

I relax more as I admire our Creator's handy work.

I pick up individual sounds and sometimes smells.


Loosen up a bit and enjoy your gardens.

Make them an extension of you or you home.

Fill them with your personalities.

Not just flowers and shrubs, but some whimsical or special piece of yard art.

A bench, special fountain or wind chimes.

Something that says YOU!

Wildlife gardens aren't just for wildlife, they are for us to enjoy as well.

Just like wildlife and nature are for us to enjoy.

There I go again........................

Sometimes I get started and can't stop.

Before the weekend rains came, I had the sprinkler running on the flower gardens.

Along came the resident male cardinal with a bar of soap and towel and ............................

Well, he did enjoy a shower and a good splash on the wet tree leafs.

When birds bathe on wet foliage, it is called leafing.

Several birds enjoy leafing and flying through sprinklers.

That includes hummingbirds.

Not all birds jump in out birdbaths.

Yep, Mr. cardinal reminded me on the importance of water for all living creatures.

Clean, fresh water.

Water is offered in several ways.

If nature doesn't offer water in the way of streams, springs, lakes, rain, dew, etc. in our yards and mini habitats,

We can.

A few ways we offer water for wildlife:




Bird creeks

Ponds and water gardens.

I know that some of you have natural steams and bodies of water.

Some of you have built or had built a pond or water garden.

I have a tiny water garden and live just a 100 yards or so from a natural pond and some wetlands.

Lorraine of Chicago sent me pictures and her web site of her water garden and much more.

Be sure to check out what you too can have in the big city.

click here to see her water garden and wed site

Man made ponds attract frogs, dragonflies and several water bugs.

Some water gardens attract turtles as well.

It has been said,

Man is attracted by two things, fire and moving water.

See how people congregate around fires.

We love the sound of moving water.

It could be a babbling brook or the thunderous roar of a waterfall.

We seek them out.

Water gardens are much the same way.

Wildlife seeks them out and we want the sounds of moving water.

A little man made waterfall or a fountain running.

Be sure to place your water gardens of even your fountain near your house or deck.

Locate them where you can enjoy them visually as well as audibly.

Ponds or water gardens can be constructed over a few days if you know what you are doing.

Larger ponds need a few friends. I would recommend having the experts come in for a larger job.

People that know what do.

What to look for and understand all the why's and why not's.

There is so much to understand.

Part of being a Michigan Certified Nurseryman is understanding underlayment, pitch, grade, degrees, linier feet, pump pressure etc.

Once you have your pond or water garden in, sit back for a spell.

The biggest mistake many people make is wanting crystal clear water.


They are forever scrubbing and cleaning (like we do for our bird bath).

Draining water and refilling.

Two weeks later they are complaining about algae again.

First of all, how many crystal clear ponds have you seen in nature?

Yes, clear ponds do happen, but it takes time and some help.

Naturally, it takes 2 to 3 years for a water garden to develop it's own natural eco-system.

Good bacteria and bad bacteria.

You will help by planting certain water plants that balance other elements of your garden.

Adding koi or goldfish (most folks do) add another set of questions yet offers pleasure and insures us there will be no skeeters in your pond.

Water gardening becomes a fine art.

Once you have practiced the art long enough, it becomes second nature.

Just like your water garden becomes second nature.

Ask just about anyone that has a water garden and they wouldn't trade it in or give it up.

The best advice for anyone wanting a water garden is to read and prepare.

Understand and be patient.

Even gardens prepared by experts must take some time to develop naturally.

There are some aids to assist you.

Barley bales help reduce algae.

When barley straw begins to break down, it gives off hydrogen peroxide.

Yep, the same stuff that makes oxygen bleach.

I've mentioned that stuff several times for cleaning and sanitizing.

Other products do the same thing. you can buy algae fix

Good bacteria,

Biological filters.

UV lights.

You name it, it is out there for ponds.

Yet given time, and nature takes care of several issues.

I suggest reading a couple of books on ponds and water gardens.

Learn about Ph.

How many fish can I have for the size of my pond?

What plants do I need?

Like so many things, doing it right the first time is key.

Some mistakes are difficult to undo or rectify.

Once you have your pond or water garden in, you will notice more wildlife stop to visit.

be sure to have a shallow area for birds to bathe.

Butterflies will stop by.

Dragonflies come by for a feed and a drink.

Yes, frogs appear magically.

If you have fish, be sure to offer them deep space and dark places for protection from predators like herons and raccoons.

Enough already

Water gardens are a joy, yet be prepared to spend some time and a few extra bucks.

Once you get the hang of it, you will never regret it.

I do have a couple of pages on water gardens, please visit them.

water for wildlife

How to build a water garden


It's time to fly for now.

As always, remember to wear your favorite smile.

Why stop at one, wear your favorite smiles and be sure to share them.

Smiles are FREE.

So give them away freely and notice the difference.

As always.

"Treat the earth well:

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 feel free to forward them to friends and family

Gardening For Wildlife.

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