By Sue Ramos, SCCF Native Landscapes & Garden Center
What does landscaping for wildlife mean to me? Choosing plants that attract butterflies and birds into my yard. Flowers that the butterflies will use for nectar and host plants for their eggs and caterpillars. Trees with berries that will fill birds’ bellies and thick branches that protect the eggs and hatchlings emerging in their nests.
Low-growing shrubs, grasses, and vines with fruits that the tortoises and raccoons will eat. It means that at any given time I can look out a window and see wildlife passing by. It also means choosing plants that grow well in the soil where they are planted—that will thrive without the need for fertilizers or additional water. It means growing plants without the use of pesticides that could harm the insects that feed off the flowers and leaves or that could harm the wildlife that eats the berries.
I once sat and watched a corky-stemmed passion vine covered with zebra longwing caterpillars. It was fascinating to watch them moving from leaf to leaf, munching away methodically as the butterflies were depositing more eggs.
This spring, the tree in my front yard was so full of small worms and caterpillars they were literally raining down. Large groups of birds would hang out for hours feeding on nature’s buffet. A pair of cardinals moved in and made a nest and laid three eggs. They kept their little ones fed with the tree’s worms.
Landscaping for wildlife means some of the leaves might be missing or all the leaves are stripped from my flowering vines because the caterpillars have eaten them all. Landscaping for wildlife means I tolerate and accept that my garden might not always look its best. It also means that I accept that my car will sometimes be covered in bird droppings while the tree worms are present.
It means that If I do my part that I can be part of the solution to cleaner water and healthier lakes.
I believe it all starts in my own backyard.
What does landscaping for wildlife mean to you?