Planting for Nature one garden at a time
Plants that contribute to the food web represent an important aspect of gardening for nature and shrubs are often over-looked as an option to consider. Thy are invaluable as a source of food. Their small yet abundant blossoms provide a nutrient-rich feast that is essential to birds, bugs, flies and pollinators. Their berries and seeds are appreciated by birds all year.
In addition to being a valuable food source, native shrubs are a host plant to many types of insects, especially in the larva stage. Caterpillars are high in protein and their soft bodies prove to be the ideal food for birds, especially parents feeding their babies.
Shrubs also provide structure to gardens in the way of layers which is beneficial to birds. It creates a transition zone that they utilize for resting, nesting and foraging for food. This added layer also creates a natural privacy feature and directs air flow within a garden that benefits anyone using the space, from human to wildlife.
Native grasses include both cool and warm season grasses that provide year round visual interest. Their beauty is unsurpassed as their colour and shape changes with the seasons. Native grasses provide value in the way of being a host plant for pollinators while they also feed the birds. Unlike manicured lawns, native grasses produce seeds so its like growing your own bird seed. Grasses are an ideal low maintenance option for a plant that can manage dynamic conditions.
While native plants are essential to the local ecology and to pollinators, your garden can include other plants as well. Non-native perennials and annuals can enhance the design potential of any garden to create atmosphere and add immediate colour. Non-native plants can be selected for their value in providing pollen, nectar, habitat and structure.
Fun Facts about the Black-capped chickadee
The chickadee is a non-migratory songbird and a true darling of the forest. Highly energetic and constantly on the move, they are a tough and tenacious little bird. They are known for their familiar call and friendly nature. But they are also survivors that can endure the harshest winters. The chickadee is adaptable and smart; in later summer and fall they even grown new brain cells which help with spatial memory, aiding in their ability to recall where they cache their winter food supply. In summer, baby chickadees need a lot of protein to survive and caterpillars are the main source of food for them. Parents need to feed their family anywhere from 300-500 caterpillars per day. Having native trees and shrubs on your property is the best way to ensure your garden is contributing to this remarkable cycle of life.