Gardening for the Birds
Inviting nature's hardest-working pollinators to set up residence in your yard isn't much different than throwing a successful dinner party: create a beautiful, welcoming and nourishing environment.
Keep it natural
Pesticides will kill pests, yes, but they'll rid you of the beneficial bugs, too. Let nature do the heavy lifting when it comes to reducing insect infestations and improving soil quality.
Plan your menu
When designing your space, plant the most colourful flowers that supply an abundance of nectar and pollen. A variety ranging in scale, volume (plant in clusters) and shape is also key to the success of your sanctuary.
Know your guests
Create the perfect harmony by featuring a variety of colours that will appeal to each of your winged friends.
Hummingbirds are attracted to pink, red, orange and purple blossoms in tubular/trumpet shapes. Because these busy birds feed every 10 to 15 minutes, they require plants that bloom continually from spring -- May in most of Canada -- through autumn. These territorial little birds don't like to share food sources with each other. If you want more than one visitor, you'll have to create feeding stations throughout the yard, leaving some distance between plantings.
Annuals: impatiens and petunias
Perennials: bee balm, columbines, daylilies and lupines; biennials such as foxgloves and hollyhocks
Butterflies tend to gravitate toward yellow, orange, pink and purple flowers. Seek a sunny location for your plantings and select flowers with broad flat petals, which provide a better landing pad and a perch for sipping.
Annuals: asters, impatiens and marigolds
Perennials: bee balm, butterfly bush, milkweed, purple coneflowers, lilacs, goldenrod, verbena and yarrow
Bees have unique colour vision and love sweet-scented flowers in vibrant shades of yellow, blue and purple. Fortunately, they're attracted to most of the same flowers as butterflies, but they prefer simple single-petal flowers to hybrid doubles for their accessibility. Promote better bee health by letting summer herbs such as dill and basil go to flower.
Annuals: asters, borage and sunflowers
Perennials: black-eyed Susan, goldenrod, purple coneflowers, poppies, apple blossoms, sage and other herbs
Moths are creatures of the night and drawn to easy-to-find sweet-scented plants in paler shades of white and yellow.
Annuals: moonflowers, marigolds and petunias
Perennials: evening primrose, yucca, sweet peas and honeysuckle
• Grow wild
Incorporate economical native plants into your landscape and watch your garden flourish; being local to your growing conditions makes them hardier and requires less maintenance. Another bonus: wildlife is naturally attracted to them. Use a wildflower guide or contact your local nursery to find out which species will work best in your yard.
• Give 'em shelter
Pollinators require various places to take cover and build nests. Offer plants, shrubs and trees of differing heights for hiding and nesting. Seek locations that are sheltered from strong wind and rain, with a mix of sun and shade throughout the day.
• Make a splash
A fresh water source will keep them coming back.
- Install a small pond or birdbath.
- Hang a hummingbird feeder. Fill it with a sugar-water solution and the bees will love it, too.
- Run the sprinkler and watch hummingbirds and butterflies bathe in the puddles on the leaves.