The Ginger Gent
Maybe it’s The bizarre weather that has suddenly yielded to sunshine? Maybe it’s the fact that the barometric pressure has stabilized (no more headaches.) Maybe it was our recent trip to the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls? Whichever one you pick I have been fantasizing about flowers.
For the last five years my son and I have been living in a semi detached house next to a vacant building that has been empty for 12 years. It has hosted a lot of the wildlife i.e. squirrels, mice, raccoons and yes even a family of skunks! This has made me hesitant about attracting more wildlife even though we very much enjoy our bird feeder, which really is a squirrel feeder. However the universe has conspired with us. The house was sold to a builder who is gutting it and I have been enjoying the cornucopia of bizarre demolition sounds for the last couple of weeks.
Now the animals are going to be moved out of the premises I am thinking about filling a desire to build a bird, humming bird, bee and butterfly friendly garden and attract these little pollinators with “hot-coloured blooms.” In particular I want to collect more Lavender and Marigolds. With the hungry birds of Toronto as well as the butterflies and bees under threat of habitat and food loss, I figured it is a great thing to do with my little Earth Ranger. I also really love how he is fulfilling his self professed title Animal Saver! We recently completed The Battery Blitz Mission (see my last post) and we are all fired up and energized to go. Here are the basics for building insect paradise.
1. Pick flowers native to your area such as the Black Eyed Susan or Coneflower. They will be survivors!
2. Fill your garden with perennials and annuals that are easy to care for and nectar rich, like the Ninebark. Really bright colours are magnets for butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.
3. Pick flowers that bloom in different seasons to guarantee consistent supply of food. Black Eyed Susan will feed goldfinches through the fall and they will also help control the population of the damaging insects!
4. Plant near the hedges or fences in your yard to block wind so butterflies and birds have a peaceful place to eat.
5. Put up a pretty bird feeder amongst trees and bushes of various heights to help them feel sheltered. Put in a birdbath at eye-catching height in a shady spot to help the water stay cool.
6. Consider your local wildlife population like the monarch butterflies are in dire need of milkweed. You can order Milkweed through the David Suzuki foundation that will arrive in May. You can even order Butterfly Kits at Amazon.ca!
8. Don’t forget the bees. Suzuki also tells us “bees have good colour vision! They like blue, purple, violet, white and yellow. Plant flowers of single species in clumps, four feet in diameter instead of scatterings so bees are more likely to find them.” Primrose, lavender or asters feed them over the seasons. See his site for a list of instructions of planting for bees. With how important these little pollinators are to the planet click here to learn how to make a bee house!
9. He also suggests creating shallow bee baths low to the ground as bees often meet their end in conventional birdbaths and they need water too! In return they will take care of your fruits and vegetables, our friends at the University of Guelph are using bees to reduce strawberry rot!
10. And try as you might accept that you will also be feeding the squirrels who will eat like pigs at your feeder but such is the price of a well stocked garden for wildlife. (I try not to have a bias but those little buggers infiltrated my attic).
11. And to get your kids in the mood try a little story time research i.e. The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive is always good for that!
About the Author
Kelly Wilk is a freelance writer and single mom to a six-year-old, red-headed, Irish, Aries boy who is growing up way too fast. Follow them on PinkPlayMags' parenting blog "The Ginger Gent" (www.pinkplaymags.com). Also, find Kelly on her own website and blog, Brave. Creative. Me at www.kellywilk.ca.