A day late but as promised, here is my post about attracting birds and butterflies (and by default, bees) to your garden.
This information was gathered at a class on Attracting Bird and Butterflies class that I attended at the Master Gardener plant sale. It was presented by Master Gardener Jean Andorka.
I am not an avid bird watcher myself. I enjoy birds, but I have always thought of feeding them and the squirrels that seem to come with them (I think that squirrels come pre packaged in most bird feeders as a way to keep bird food sales high) as more work than I have time for in my garden.
But Jean mentioned a few easy or little effort things you can do to attract more birds to you garden.
- Plant a few evergreens – Evergreens provide perfect year round shelter and protection for your average 2.3 fledgling bird family. The branches and needles will keep inclement weather off the nest while also ensuring that Fluffy does not turn the family into a 1.3 fledgling family.
- Put out a bird bath – Birds need clean water to bathe and drink. Jean suggested keeping your bird bath clean by keeping a toilet brush (one that has not been used in the toilet) in with your gardening tools. A quick swish, swish, dump and refill will keep your bird bath sparkling clean.t
- Plant a berry bush – Jean was particularly enthusiastic about using serviceberry bushes but any kind of berry bush will work.
- Hang a bird nester – A bird nester is like a bird feeder except it is filled with nesting material instead of food. The less far a bird has to travel to get nesting material, the happier they are.
- Place all bird hot spots up high – Almost as important as attracting birds to your yard is keeping them there. Place all your bird attracting elements as high up as possible so that birds can keep an eye out for dangers. This will keep the bird in your yard rather than in Fluffy’s tummy.
Jean also talked about attracting butterflies to the garden. I try to plant flowers that attract butterflies but she made some other recommendations to help attract butterflies. These were:
- Plant host plants for caterpillars in your garden – Caterpillars grow up to be butterflies so it just makes sense to plant things that caterpillars like to eat. Keep in mind that host plants are sacrificial plants. You are putting them on the Alter of Butterfly so expect that they will be killed or at least seriously damaged. Fortunately many weeds are also butterfly host plants.
- Provide the butterflies with water – Drumroll please… All of you who were wondering what I was going to do with the ceramic donuts, well here is it. They are now butterfly pools. A shallow tray of water with some rocks makes an excellent butterfly watering hole.The nice thing about these are that the water will not stay long enough to attract mosquitoes but can still be easily refilled with a flick of the hose.
- Set out a brush pile – Butterflies need shelter too. A simple brush pile is an excellent place for a butterfly to weather a storm or just rest her wings.
- Don’t use pesticides – This probably does not need to be said but the same stuff that kills the hated aphid also kills the beloved butterfly.
Of course, and added benefit to attracting birds and butterflies to your garden is that the same things that attract birds and butterflies will also attract bees. And every gardener knows that bees perform a very important job in the garden. Bees are pimps for the flowers and vegetables!
The more bee pimps you have in your garden, the more plant sex you will have which results in more plants and vegetables for you.