Thursday, June 9, 2011

Eco-friendly gardeners say "Let me tell you about my garden critters"

While some people our age are walking around saying "Let me tell you about my grandchildren", my hubby and I are just as proud to brag about our cute "grand critters".

Since we began creating our eco-friendly landscape ten years ago, the critters are just as anxious to visit us as kids are to visit their super generous, gift-giving grandparents.

But rather than spoiling "the kids" with cell phones, new clothes and multi-media devices, our "babies" are content with a little food and a roof over their heads.

We built and hung this new nest box when we saw a screech owl hanging out in a larger nestbox we have on our property.

It only took THREE days before the little screecher found the box and moved right in.

We saw him (or her) hanging out at the box on and off for a few days and then didn't see him (or her) again for awhile.

So we were really surprised when, exactly two months after hanging the box, we saw two screech owl babies.

"The grand kids" only hung around a few days, and then they were gone, but it is SO much fun to hear them out there at night, calling to each other, and know that we played a part in helping to "raise them".

You don't really have to work that hard to attract wildlife to your eco-friendly landscape. Once you begin adding native plants and eliminating chemicals, the wildlife will find you. But below are ten tips to keep in mind if you want to share your landscape with the local wildlife. You can read the full post about creating wildlife friendly landscapes by following this link.

1) Choose plants that provide food for birds and wildlife.

2) Choose native plants.

3) Provide supplemental feeders.

4) Provide a water supply.

5) Provide shelter for wildlife.

6) Avoid chemicals in your landscape! Chemicals can harm wildlife as well as the insects that they eat.

7) Garden with care. Many birds and other creatures raise their young in low bushes and shrubs. Butterflies raise their young (caterpillars) on some of our favorite garden plants. Mow, prune and trim with caution to avoid critter catastrophes.

8 ) Keep wandering pets out of wildlife areas.

9) Provide Places to Raise Young.

10) Practice eco-friendly gardening. Everything you do in your landscape can have an effect on the overall health of the soil, air, water and habitat for native wildlife. Visit the Metro DC Lawn and Garden blog often to learn how to create a landscape that is healthy for you and for local wildlife.

Learn Butterfly Gardening - June 12th

Some of you may know that I think  butterflies can help save the planet. They are such beautiful, magical little creatures, that I think they can encourage more people to quit using chemicals, plant native plants and take other steps to create  eco friendly landscapes.

I would even love to see Michelle Obama start a butterfly garden on the White House grounds.

If you would like to learn more about local butterflies, plan on attending the lecture by Dr. Dexter Hinckley, on 15 species of butterflies at Hidden Oaks Nature Center from 2 to 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, June 12th.

Learn techniques for attracting these garden jewels, host plants for their caterpillars, and nectar plant suggestions for adults. Learn techniques for attracting these garden jewels and area butterfly gardens you can visit.and area butterfly gardens you can visit. The cost is $5 per person. Register online or call 703-324-4662. For information, call 703-941-1065.

Dr. Hinckley holds a PhD in entomology from the University of Hawaii. He is retired from the EPA, has substaintial volunteer experience with the Smithsonian and the National Zoo, and now does freelance work as an "independent environmental Services professional".

Set within 52 acre Annandale Community Park, Hidden Oaks Nature Center is located in the heart of Fairfax County, a few minutes inside the Capital Beltway. The woods surrounding the center feature an easy loop trail 1/3 mile long. Seasonal brochures enable visitors to discover the changing nature of the woodland at points along the trail. For further exploration, additional trails lead through the woods to two streams. Bird watching and photography are special pleasures in these quiet surroundings.

Butterflies of DC

Butterflies of Maryland

Butterflies of Virginia

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