We deeply appreciate all those that came before us and taught us to embrace and respect the land, water and wildlife.
A wildlife garden is one of the most effective and easiest ways you can contribute to the conservation of not only the environment, but your own backyard! A wildlife garden is made up of four
things: a place for animals to raise their young, shelter, food, and water. Let’s get into some of the components of a successful wildlife garden! First, be considerate of the varieties of plants you grow! Growing pollinator friendly plants that will attract butterflies, bees or hummingbirds is a great way to grow a thriving garden and to aid in a functioning and healthy environment! Also, it is important to acknowledge seasonal changes and grow flowers that provide food for multiple different species at different times of the year. Red chokeberry, bearberry, strawberry bushes, gray dogwood, and sassafras are great examples of these as they feed everything from insects to foxes to black bears! Pay close attention to the bloom time chart to take into consideration when and what plants you can grow to ensure the wildlife is protected and fed year round, especially when food and shelter is scarce elsewhere. When creating a wildlife garden, it is also useful to recognize the structure of different plants. For example, some flowers specifically support short-tongued insects or long tongued insects, some climbing plants such as clematis or ivy can be important as well for shelter and protection, while taller plants such as ironweed or joe pye weed act as wonderful sources of protection from predators or from harsh weather. The architecture of your garden is very important! There are also many easy additions you can add to your garden to support the wildlife within it. Bird baths can help hydrate wildlife not only during summer months when it is more difficult to find dried up ground water, but in the winter when natural water sources for wildlife freeze. Other simple additions include log, leaf or stone piles which all can provide habitat for small mammals, rodents, birds, insects, or amphibians. Another garden trick is to allow some portions of your yard to grow long grass while others are short, as this allows a variety of wildlife to thrive in different areas of your garden since the long grass area acts as a meadow to provide shelter, and the short area makes it much easier for animals such as foxes or birds to find grubs and insects within the ground! Another easy addition is planting a tree which can be beneficial to hundreds of different types of wildlife, from the bugs that live in the bark, to birds that roost in the nests or eat the insects within the bark, herbivores that eat the leaves, seeds or acorns that are a delightful food source for squirrels porcupines or songbirds, and raccoons opossums or maybe even a bear sheltering in the tree. These charts provide a useful structure to beginning your wildlife garden and offer great insight as to what plants you can grow for your preferred garden traits!
-Sophia Kheboian, Conservation Land Assistant