A wildlife-friendly garden
To say I have a wildlife-friendly yard is an understatement. Sometimes it's a veritable zoo out there. It's amazing how many critters will show up at a simple tube of mixed birdseed and a slab of rendered pork fat. It's a boosted chance at winter survival for the birds, and precious moments of simple entertainment for me.
In the spring, I plan to swap out the seed and suet feeders and cater, instead, to the nectar-eating birds. The bird of all birds I hope to attract to my garden is a Baltimore Oriole -- the state bird of Maryland. They apparently like nectar, oranges, and grape jelly. A bit high maintenance, aren't they?
Beyond setting up bird feeding stations, though, I've been thinking about ways to organize my garden with specific plants that will attract wildlife naturally. I'd like to put in some cosmos, coreopsis, and bachelor's buttons for the goldfinches. Monarda for the hummingbirds. Zinnias for butterflies. Not only do I think about what I want to eat from the garden; I think about what all the critters like to eat, too. (And that works both ways, of course, as I'll have to devise ways to keep rabbits out of the lettuce patch.)
The National Wildlife Federation recently put out a series of tip sheets for maintaining a backyard wildlife habitat. Included are simple steps one can take to reduce their lawn, install bird feeders and nest boxes, attract butterflies, and more. Check out the one that's titled Neighborhood-friendly Wildlife Gardening. See the photo of the ladybug on the front? That's the work of none other than yours truly. It's a photo I took when I had my garden plot in the District -- a ladybug on larkspur flowers. I was thrilled to contribute the photo to a cause I support.