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Blog #4 Is Your Garden Certifiable?
While I was attending Canada Blooms recently I came across the Canadian Wildlife Federation booth. What does the CWF do? In their words:
“The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to ensuring an appreciation of our natural world and a lasting legacy of healthy wildlife and habitat by:
- informing and educating Canadians;
- advocating responsible human actions; and
- representing wildlife on conservation issues.”
It was here that I first heard of The Backyard Habitat Certification program. The program “was initiated to recognize the hard work of Canadians in meeting the habitat needs of wildlife” and to educate and encourage gardeners who may have not yet considered the benefits of creating a wildlife – friendly yard.
First we should look at why this is so important. It is relatively safe to presume that most of us take great joy from watching the birds fleeting about the garden. Their wide range of colors and swift movement throughout the yard are delightful and there is nothing more charming than watching a humming bird jiggling a fuchsia flower in search of nectar. Listening to their gentle birdsong and chatter in the mornings while you weed is an excellent form of therapy (the crows? Perhaps not so much). If not for any other reason to do so, attracting birds to the garden gives us great pleasure.
There are other benefits for keeping nature’s creatures in the yard, which are probably most important. Birds help to disperse plant seeds, and along with bees aid in the pollination of many flowers. Attracting wildlife is the number one organic control of insects in the garden. For example birds will eat caterpillars, ladybugs control aphids while frogs munch out on slugs.
In recent years populations of certain species have been on the decline, mostly caused by humans’ interactions that disrupt their natural habitats. By recreating their habitats and offer retreats in our yards we can do our part to revive some of these endangered species.
Every part of your yard can become a retreat for wildlife. Consider all areas – the front yard, back yards, side areas, etc. Are you an apartment dweller? Don’t have a yard? Even your balcony can be certifiable with proper planning.
Special considerations for plant material and water features that will attract wild life can be made while designing your gardens or while making plans to amend the gardens you already have. Provide trees that produce seeds, nuts or fruit, shrubs that berry and plant grasses and flowers that produce seed. For example birds only get a small portion of what they eat from feeders, you (and they) would be far better off using plants that provide most of their diet for them. Having said that a birdfeeder in the winter is greatly appreciated and they make wonderful additions to the garden all year round as well.
Native plants are generally inexpensive to buy, easy to find and care for and are preferred by the “critters” as this is what they depend on for survival. Mix them with more ornamental selections to add diversity for both you and them; Buddliea, (butterfly bush) is definitely not native to Nova Scotia but is a favorite among the butterflies and gardeners alike.