It’s late October in Northern California and most of the garden is at rest. I’m catching the last rays of the day. Above me wispy clouds twirling and beside me birds chirping. It‘s lovely to just pause, be outside and see who’s visiting the garden.
The delta sunflowers, tall totems of cheer, extend wide arms for the small yellow finches to land and search for seeds enriching their fall diet.
Bees are plentiful and dedicated to food foraging at the pale blue-violet rosemary flowers.
Zinnias signal butterflies with their color and fragrance providing the perfect flat-landing pad. Monarchs and swallowtails are just two of the beautiful butterflies that can be seen drinking nectar through their long tongues which work like straws.
6:15 and the last visitor of the day is the hummingbird hovering at the red salvia blossoms. This super-active bird requires lots of nourishment; it’s up early and the last one seen dining. The Salvia genus is well known for its bright flowers, rich nectar and this year it has been our drought-tolerant hero.
Our backyard was once a dull rectangle of grass until I read the delightful book The Habitat Garden Book by Nancy Bauer. This small 56-page guide changed our way of landscaping to one that brought so much life and joy in the form of beauty, birds, butterflies and beneficial insects.
With wildlife habitat disappearing so fast, any little parcel of habitat gardening makes a difference to local wildlife, especially when it’s part of a growing web of life repeated throughout a neighborhood. It’s the environmentally friendly way to relate to the landscape.
Fall is a good time to begin planning a habitat garden, even just add a few native plants to your site. Native plants have evolved with native creatures and are best suited to your land and climate. Another great resource to help you provide the essentials for a wildlife-friendly garden is National Wildlife Federations’ web page on Gardening for Wildlife: http://www.nwf.org/how-to-help/garden-for-wildlife/create-a-habitat.aspx?s_subsrc=Web_Content_CWH_GardenSite_Main_3