Monday, February 22, 2016

Just Do One Thing!

My good friend, Liz the realtor, guilted me into the continuation of this blog about gardening, nature, the east Texas piney woods and dumb stuff I do. I think she just wants to read about the dumb stuff I do. If you enjoy my blog, please don't just like it on Facebook. Leave an anonymous comment at the bottom of this page. Heck, you can always say,"boy, Ann, that is dumb."

I want to talk about gardening for wildlife. I know, I know, we live in the middle of huge wildlife preserve here at Holly Lake Ranch. In talking about gardening for wildlife, I am not referring to planting so the deer will eat it (but actually that happens anyway). There is a type of gardening that sustains our wildlife and here are some ideas for attracting the kind of wildlife you really want in your garden.

Let’s start easy. . . . with just one thing. Imagine if doing just one thing for wildlife really could really make a difference in their existence. I know this sounds weird, but it’s true. We could make a huge difference for our local wildlife if each of us chose to do just one thing in our garden. Really.

You don’t have to re-landscape your flower beds. You don’t have to rip out your entire lawn (although doing that would be a great improvement for wildlife right there). You don’t have to become a native plant expert. You just have to choose one helpful task and do it. If we each did just that much, struggling wildlife populations would have a better chance.

One task could be to welcome bugs to your wildlife garden. Whaaat? Are insects good for the garden? The answer is yes. We tend to notice those that damage our plants and overlook the ones that are harmless or beneficial to the ecosystem that is our garden.


Worse yet, we use pesticide that kills all bugs because we paint all insects with the same brush. 

The fact is that many, probably most, insects are invaluable components of the ecosystem. You might want to consider organic gardening. Think of it this way – no bugs; no birds. It is wise to learn and recognize and appreciate these gardener friends. Here is a good resource published by Texas A&M. Beneficials in the Garden

Welcome pollinators and butterflies to your garden. Did you know there are more than 4,000 species of native bees and 725 species of butterflies on this continent? It takes 2 million flowers a bee has to tap to make a pound of honey and the estimated annual value of the honey bee to US agriculture is over $9 billion dollars. The honey bees are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of US crop species too. We need all kinds of bees even Bumbles and Mason! 

Consider planting the flowers they love, adding a water source and providing housing for them. Besides a hive, bees like upside down flower pots, old logs, or a board or two on the ground. Being a little untidy in the garden and on your property can be a big help. To make your butterfly garden successful,you need to supply both nectar and larval host plants. Nectar plants feed the adult butterflies and larval or host plants feed the caterpillars. Different species of butterflies have different needs, especially when it comes to the native butterfly host plants. Caterpillars are important. Without caterpillars, there are no butterflies. Well, duh!

Garden for the birds. I love birdscaping. It is one of the very few activities that truly follows the motto “If you build it, they will come.” By arranging your landscape or garden to create welcoming habitats for birds including rest stops for migrating birds, places for breeding and raising their young, and food and shelter for winter residents, you will provide for birds’ basic needs. Birdscaping is much more than putting up a few bird feeders.

Lastly, lead by example. Teaching your family, friends and neighbors to take the same action will magnify your efforts and help a lot more. Now I’m not saying there’s some kind of magic bullet that would solve all of the dangers facing our native wildlife, but doing one thing will certainly help to slow their decline.

Hey, I'm eating here!