Gardner or not, summer is a time to be outdoors with mother nature. Melinda Myers offers tips on how to better your garden with color and motion. It is never too late to start gardening, so this July, add some colorful designs and attract butterflies and birds to your yard with these four easy steps!
By Melinda Myers
Add a little extra color and motion to your summer garden with containers designed to attract birds and butterflies. Many garden centers continue to sell annuals throughout the summer and many of these mid-season annuals are a bit bigger, providing instant impact.
It’s easier than you think to attract birds and butterflies and the good news is you don’t need a lot of space to do it. Container gardens give you the ability to attract wildlife to your backyard, patio, deck or even balcony. Simply follow these four steps and your garden will be filled with color, motion and a season of wildlife.
Attract Birds and Butterflies With Your Gardening
1. Provide food for birds and butterflies. Include plants with flat daisy-like flowers like pentas, zinnias, and cosmos to attract butterflies. For hummingbirds, include some plants with tubular flowers including nicotiana, cuphea, salvia, and fuchsia. And don’t forget about the hungry caterpillars that will soon turn into beautiful butterflies. Parsley, bronze fennel, and licorice vines are a few favorites that make great additions to container gardens. You can even create containers that will attract seed-eating birds. Purple Majesty millet, coneflower, coreopsis, and Rudbeckias will keep many of the birds returning to your landscape.
2. Include water for both the birds and butterflies. It’s a key ingredient and a decorative small shallow container filled with water can be included in a large container. Or include a free-standing birdbath within your container collection. I used a bronzed leaf birdbath in just this way. It created a great vertical accent, added interest to a blank wall and provided a water supply for the birds.
3. Give them a place to live and raise their young. Add a few evergreens, ornamental grasses, and perennials to your container when gardening. Use weather resistant containers that can tolerate the extreme heat and cold in your garden. Then fill with plants that are at least one zone hardier. Or add a few birdhouses. These can be included in the container or mounted on a fence, post, or nearby tree.
4. Skip the pesticides, please. Nature, including the birds you invite into your landscape, will devour many garden pests. Plus, the chemicals designed to kill the bad guys can also kill the good bugs and wildlife you are trying to attract. And, if pests get out of hand, use more eco-friendly products like soaps, Neem, and horticulture oil as a control mechanism. And, as always, read and follow label directions carefully.
And to conserve time and energy, try using one of the self-watering containers or hanging baskets that are on the market. This helps to make it both easy and convenient when time constraints and vacations get in the way of providing ideal care. I recently tried using one of the Gardener’s Supply Easy Roller self-watering containers. I filled one with wildlife-friendly petunias along with papyrus and golden moneywort. After a five-day trip during hot dry weather I returned to find my container garden in great shape and hummingbirds visiting the flowers.
So gather your family and get started planting your wildlife container garden today.
In keeping with the Identity 5 theme, Melinda answers the Identity 5!
1. What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
Things work out for the best so no need to waste time worrying about what could be. It may take time to realize that the results were the best for you but as I look back at problems and challenges I find it lead me down a better path. SO I always work on my skills but focus on the present, plan for the future and save the worrying until the problem really develops – and most of the time it works itself out.
2. What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I enjoy the people in my life – both personal and professional. This genuine enjoyment has allowed me to meet lots of interesting people and filled my life with lots of surprises, fun and insights along the way.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
Finding contentment. After my divorce I spent a year working on finding contentment. I still and will always work hard to be a good mother, grandmother, friend, colleague and employer – but I finally ridded myself of the lingering angst I felt while working toward these goals. I continue to strive and hope to do more to help women in nontraditional fields, including mine, to find satisfactions, happiness and equality in their professions.
4. What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
Growing up I was a shy nerd that had no trouble spacing out and leading the charge against injustice. This helps me relate to a wide range of people by understanding what it is like to be different and passionate
5. How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Life – very cliche but true. As I age and see too many of my friends, family and colleagues pass I am reminded that it is great to be alive and take advantage of each moment
Nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments which air on over 115 TV and radio stations throughout the U.S. and Canada. She is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and writes the twice monthly “Gardeners’ Questions” newspaper column. Melinda also has a column in Gardening How-to magazine. Melinda hosted “The Plant Doctor” radio program for over 20 years as well as seven seasons of Great Lakes Gardener on PBS. She has written articles for Better Homes and Gardens and Fine Gardening and was a columnist and contributing editor for Backyard Living magazine. Melinda has a master’s degree in horticulture, is a certified arborist and was a horticulture instructor with tenure. Her web site is www.melindamyers.com