This month is the best to set up a garden that will provide food, shelter and water for wildlife. Flowering plants, bubbling water features and berried shrubs all help birds, bees and butterflies and other pollinators thrive during the summer. Here is what you can do to make your garden wildlife friendly:Make it bright: Birds, bees and butterflies like bright, gaudy color in warm, sunny places. Hues of orange, yellow, red and purple are especially attractive. Many varieties of aster, daisies, gaillardias, helenium, marigolds and nepeta tempt butterflies and bees to land and feed. Many succulents attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Native plants like mimulus, poppy, ceanothus and verbena make wonderful wildlife plants. Butterflies cannot resist summer and fall-blooming sedums. Many of the hardy aloes, especially those that bloom in the winter, offer a natural source of nectar for overwintering hummingbirds. Hummingbirds cannot resist nectar-laden salvias. Pot up some big, hanging baskets of purple wave petunias or bright red callibrachoa for hummer feeders. All are easy to grow and maintain.Plant a lot: A pot or two of daisies will not attract wild beauty. Birds, bees and butterflies are attracted to masses of bright color. Make it full and bright. Butterflies are nearsighted, so offering a wild mix color surely attracts them to the garden. They see color, but in a different way that we do. Combine several varieties of flowers for a riot of color they cannot resist.Save up a few weeds: Wild birds, bees and butterflies are attracted to wild plants, what we call weeds. Nettle and plantain are larvae food. Butterflies lay eggs on these types of weeds for caterpillars to feed upon. Ox-eye daisies, dandelions and wild radishes have pollen and nectar. Let the fringes of the yard go wild.Don’t forget water: The drought conditions of summer cause spring creeks and ponds to dry up. Home gardeners can easily supply much needed moisture to bees, butterflies and birds by making a shallow pool or installing a bird bath. Hummingbirds love it when water sprays in the air, so a little fountain type of water feature would suit them. Bees and birds prefer a shallow bird bath. One with bubbler will provide sound and splash they find irresistible. Butterflies will feed in puddles of mud. They eat the mud, ingesting nutrients, amino acids, moisture and salts.Take it easy: With a cool, refreshing drink in hand, sit still for a time in your beautiful flower garden for the wild ones. Soon, birds will drop into the bird bath. One by one, the butterflies, monarch, swallowtail, red admiral and buckeye, float aimlessly through. Listen to the buzzing of bees, the whirring of a hummingbird’s wings.
Terry Kramer is the site manager for the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.