Easy Wildlife Gardening Anyone Can Do
by Marci Hayden
Gardening for wildlife can be especially appropriate for two groups of folks who may not think they have the required skills: disabled gardeners who have limited physical abilities, and extremely active people who have limited time.
Most gardens that attract wildlife can be a little bit more “natural” so they tend to require less maintenance overall. A wildflower or herb garden designed to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, for example, can be easy to maintain.
Butterflies like fuzzy, sticky, or flat-shaped blossoms. Perennial examples known to be hardy, easy-to-grow and particularly well suited for our area which require only infrequent water include yarrows, sages, lavenders and salvias, all of which are usually found at most garden centers.
For hummingbirds all you need are a few plants with bell or tube-shaped flowers, preferably in bright dark colors such as red, orange or purple. Try trouble-free columbines, nasturtiums and the red single-flowered fuchsia known as “Gartenmeister.” These plants need filtered sunlight and regular watering. Check the gardening instructions that come with the plant.
Helpful hint: If you start your garden with California native plants, or if you choose plants that are native to the Mediterranean region, these won’t require as much watering or repotting.
Butterfly and hummingbird gardens work well in a small courtyard near the house or even on an apartment balcony. They can be grown entirely in containers such as wine or whiskey half-barrels or many numerous containers found at most nurseries and garden centers. Plants grown in containers will be more accessible to gardeners who are unable to work comfortably at ground level. The above-mentioned plants are easy to maintain and water, and will reward you with months of flowers, foliage and above all, wildlife!
If you add a dwarf evergreen shrub in another large pot for shelter, and put out a small birdbath or just a water-filled plant saucer, you will provide the basic requirements for wildlife without taking on an enormous gardening or maintenance commitment.
“Enabling the Disabled to Attract Wildlife at Home, “www.nwf.org, referencing The Enabling Garden, by Gene Rothert (1994).