I garden for my own enjoyment and in order to create a wildlife habitat. I hope my native garden will inspire others to create a patch of native land no matter where they live. If enough of us do this we can create wildlife corridors which will increase the effectiveness of our native habitats.
I am not a purist. Some approaches to native gardening involve only planting plants that once grew in your zip code but that’s not the garden for me. I have such a small piece of land to work in that I want the opportunity to enjoy plants from a variety of native plant communities.
I am not so great with the Latin names so you’ll hear me, most of the time, refer to plants by their more commonly known name. And sometimes even when I know the Latin name, I don’t use it because I can’t pronounce it.
I don’t make a major effort to keep up with plants that get reclassified so you’ll sometimes find conflicting names. I correct things as I can. I’m not a botanist or a biologist or a scientific horticultural anything. I’m just a girl who likes her plants.
We don’t use any pesticides at all. Weeds get pulled, hopefully as we see them (which makes it easier) but sometimes we need to devote a couple of days of attacking them. Mulch helps keep down the weed population in some areas.
When it comes to inviting birds to the garden, here’s something that surprises a lot of people: I don’t feed the birds.
I don’t put out any seed or nectar for the hummingbirds. Shocking, right? The thing is, I don’t want them to become dependent on food from me. I’d rather plant plants that can feed them and let them do the foraging for themselves. Win-win. This is why my garden is filled with native plants that the critters are hard-wired to want to eat. The goal is to have food available all year around and I think I’m pretty close to there. Some plants have flowers for the many hummingbirds. Some, like the honeysuckle and twinberry aren’t available all year but the island snapdragon is so I’ve planted a lot of it.
And did you know that hummingbirds also eat insects and spiders? With a wide variety of plants in our yard there is always an abundance of protein sources around.
Many of my plants set fruits or seeds that the birds love to eat. I let everything go to seed and birds come in and eat their fill.
When it comes to taking photographs of the birds I don’t set up any special situation or move things around. I sit, either inside or out, and wait for the birds to come by. Sometimes I get the shot and sometimes I don’t but I don’t disturb the birds.
I leave all spiderwebs in place unless I am going to walk into them face first.
My goal is to create a hospitable nature environment so I can observe the visitors to my home.
What can one suburban garden do? That’s what I’m trying to find out.