What would a garden be without the birds, bees and blessed butterflies going about their business to and fro? Not only are they are industrious and beautiful, they may also be our last natural connection.
Humans spend so much time with their video games, computers and televisions, they are surprised when they interact with the outdoors. Gardens are noisy and active, and not only by day. At night nocturnal moths and other creatures emerge for their shifts.
Once we pause we are attracted to them, but how do we draw them to our gardens? By remembering that all living beings need three things to survive: water, shelter and food.
Bubbling birdbaths and gentle fountains are ideal for birds, while puddles work best for toads, butterflies, and winged pollinators such as bees and wasps.
As for food: If you plant it, they will come. Fruiting shrubs and trees provide shelter and nourishment, and easy-open flowers are designed as landing pads for winged insects. Although European honeybees still struggle, there are approximately 4,000 native bees in the U.S. that pollinate flowers and bring us joy, if only we look. Native and heirloom flowers have the most abundant nectar and pollen, two things all bees need.
Also, if at all possible don’t spray with herbicides or insecticides. They are harmful to all. As we watch butterflies we must consider their children. I grow a lot of dill, and it’s not because I’m a huge fan. The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Black Swallowtail caterpillars adore dill, and I accommodate them. Because of a harsh winter, Monarchs especially need our help this summer. Plant milkweed, particularly natives, and you’ll be rewarded with munching caterpillars and later, iridescent green chrysalises.
The cycle of life goes on. The question is: Will we help or hinder?
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