Wildlife Garden

October 30, 2008

Volume 1, Number 10

Inside this issue…

Flowers for Part Sun

The Wildlife Garden

Carefree composting

Hello Gardeners

Is there a part of your garden that doesn’t get a full day of sun? There’s no reason the shaded garden can’t be as colorful as one full of sun. In this issue we show you how to turn a shady garden into a showy garden that blooms with color from spring through fall simply by choosing the right kind of plants.

Choose the right plants though and it won’t just be you enjoying them. Bees will buzz through your blooms, birds will sing from the trees above, and butterflies should flit past looking for nectar. With wildlife species in decline, more and more homeowners are turning to sustainable gardening. We discuss how to transform your back yard into a haven for the birds and the bees.

And while we’re on the subject of eco-gardening, the Mantis Compost-Twin two bin composter gives you a constant supply of compost. Throw in those leaves, dead plants and kitchen scraps – get nutrient-rich compost for your garden.

Shady and Showy

Not all gardens are blessed with a full day of sun every day of the year. An area of the garden that gets less than six full hours of sun is considered to be partial shade; a flower bed that receives less than four hours of sun, is considered to be full shade. But shady doesn’t have to mean dull and colorless. The shady garden can still be turned into a showy garden – it’s just a matter of selecting the right plants and working with the shade rather than against it.

Choosing the right plants is perhaps the single most important factor when planting in a shaded garden. Pick plants with different blooming cycles and a range of heights and colors so that you get a lovely display of flowers from spring through to the fall. A choice of classic and colorful partial-shade loving perennials could be Foxgloves, Red Corn Poppy, Purple Coneflowers, Shasta Daisies and spring blooming Primroses that come in a range of vivid reds, pinks and yellows. Those plants will do well in any spot that gets at least four hours of sun. Ferns and shrubs also do well in shady areas and can provide a good foil of cool greens for the color provided by the blooms. Perennials usually have a short blooming cycle, but when they aren’t flowering, their foliage adds leafy hues to the garden color scheme. Some varieties can also produce brightly colored berries or seed pods.

Large trees are certainly beautiful and a welcome part of the landscape, but unfortunately they can present a challenge to the gardener trying to grow beautiful blooms in their shade. Their foliage may well provide welcome, refreshing shade on hot days, but it also acts as an umbrella on rainy days, meaning that the plants growing directly under them may not receive enough moisture. Any shrubs in the area will also be trying to grab the nutrients and dampness in the ground so it becomes vital to water delicate plants growing in their vicinity. Worse yet, those greedy trees and shrubs put out feeder roots which the poor perennials have to compete with, so it’s also really important to apply mulch or fertilizer to the area at least twice in the growing season.

You can plant bulbs in a shaded garden as long as you treat them like annuals, meaning that they have to be dug up and discarded after each season because bulbs need sunlight in order to produce flowers the following year.

The Wildlife Garden

As natural habitats and environments disappear, so do wildlife species. This is where individual gardeners can play a huge part in eco-protection. Turning a home garden into a haven for wildlife not only ensures that birds, insects and small mammals have a safe place to live and breed but also provides a pleasant environment in which to spend warm, sunny afternoons.

The principle behind the wildlife garden is to establish a balance between garden pests and their natural predators by creating an attractive environment in which they can feed and breed. If you have aphids on your roses, for example, attract ladybirds. if you have a slug problem, call in the birds and frogs. It also means planting native species, meadow flowers and letting plants go to seed. While the garden does not have to be messy, it does mean saying goodbye to a perfect lawn and the perfectly trimmed box hedge.

However, the wildlife garden can be infinitely attractive. Features such as vine-covered fences and snags (dead trees), hanging baskets filled with fragrant nectar-producing plants, wild flowers, seed heads and tall grasses, shady spots in which to sit, bird feeders and nest boxes will all attract birds, bees and butterflies and create an interesting garden landscape even in the winter months.

So, how do you keep the birds chirping and the butterflies flitting in your garden? Like us, wildlife species look for food, shelter and a safe place to raise a family. Berry-producing plants are an excellent source of food for birds and you can also provide them with natural food by letting some of your plants go to seed. Nest boxes and a bird feeder will all convince the birds to make their home in your garden.

Butterflies love the sun so attract them by planting nectar-producing plants such as Coneflowers and Shasta Daisies in the sunniest spot of your garden and place some attractive stones to absorb the heat. The butterflies will have a place to both eat and bask in the sun.

Water is important too, and having a water feature—a pond if possible but a birdbath or a bowl of water can be fine too—will attract the birds and maybe also dragonflies and a small frog that’ll gobble up those pesky slugs. Shelter can be provided by keeping a pile of logs in a hidden corner of the garden which also provide a source of food for insects. Insects, in turn, are a source of food for other creatures. You might even attract a woodpecker or a slug-hungry hedgehog.

Diversity is the key to attracting wildlife. The more diverse the natural habitat, the more species you’ll attract. Perhaps nothing in the garden provides more diversity than the hedgerow. It is a mini-ecosystem that can become a place to nest, find food and shelter. For the gardener, it creates privacy and a perfect backdrop for an eco-friendly garden.

Carefree composting

Gone are the days of complicated composting. The Mantis Compost-Twin two bin composter makes composting a cinch. Throw in garden waste and kitchen scraps, turn the handle daily and out comes perfect compost. While the compost “cooks” in one chamber, you fill the second chamber with new compost materials so you get a constant supply.
MANTIS® ComposT-Twin – for a continuous supply of compost! Free Activator and Guide to Composting. One-year money-back guarantee.

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