Now that most of the groundwork is completely for a lush, beautiful landscape, some enthusiastic gardeners may be thinking what can I do now? June is a great month to welcome wildlife into the gardens! Their presence is not only remarkable to watch and listen to, they can also provide many vegetation and comfort benefits as well.
Attracting Butterflies and Hummingbirds
There are many plants and/or herbs that will lure hummingbirds and butterflies to the backyard. They are drawn to the bright colors and nectars of the flowers and will return throughout the summer with the right mixture of vegetation. For butterflies, try planting nepeta, nicotiana, petunia, phlox, rudbeckia, salvia, scabiosa, sedub, solidago, sutera or verbena. To appeal to hummingbirds, any mixture of these flowers will do the trick: agastache, alcea, aguilegia, buddleia, calibrachoa, campanula, clematis, coleous, delphinium, digitalis, fuchsia, heliotrope, heuchera, hibiscus, hosta. lantana, lobelia, mint, nepeta, salvia, sedum or verbascum.
Traditional bird feeders are a great way to attract local birds. Birdfeeders also come in all sizes and shapes and can be filled with a variety of different seeds specified to help attract particular birds. Use the variety and expertise of the local garden shop and their employees to identify seeds and feeders to meet individual interests. For those not fond of serving up dinner for squirrels, there are even bird feeders that are highly squirrel resistant or corn-cob feeders that will nourish those furry-tailed creatures.
While bats are not typically a preferred animal to lure into landscapes and don't dazzle gardeners with beautiful colors or melodious song, they do offer benefits to the garden. Bats can eat their weight in mosquitoes, making the backyard a much more comfortable place to lounge. Bats can be lured with bat houses and once installed, require little upkeep and maintenance.
Toads can be considered a gardener's best friend as they eat many insects that can harm plants. Toads prefer to hide in dark, damp places during the day and come out to eat at night. To make an inviting home for a toad, try placing rocks, tree bark, a small plank of wood or an overturned planter for their hiding spot with approximately a one to two inch opening. A happy toad in the garden makes for a happy gardener!
Ponds are a type of wetlands which are crucial to ecosystems. While creating a pond in the backyard may seem slightly ambitious, there are other ways to assist and attract wildlife with water. For a simple water source, line a half barrel (or whiskey barrel) with a commercial, plastic liner. Fill it with water (rainwater is best) and place tall plants in pots supported by rocks if necessary. Consult with a garden expert for plants will thrive in this environment. Use edges to support flat rocks for insects, birds or frogs. Maintain the water level and freshness by adding water regularly, preferably standing rainwater to ensure similar temperature.
Shelter, protection and the ability to shield their young are all vital components for animal survival and they will remain in a setting that gives them security. Wildlife housing can be bought at garden centers, but many animals are not picky about their cover and would be comfortable and safe for example in altered, dead tree stumps, boxes, rock sculptures or a few pieces of wood.
Whatever is used to lure and protect wildlife in the garden, a gardener's effort will be benefitting and enjoyed by the animals and those who will enjoy months of their beauty and sound.