“Landscapes provide life” is a central message Wellfield Botanic Gardens emphasizes to garden guests and in operational practice. Our urban and suburban landscapes enrich and can provide life physically, mentally, and spiritually for all residents: human, plant and animal. They already do, whether we like it or not, so it makes sense to intentionally design an environment that feeds you, your family and your neighbors, furry or otherwise.
This brings us to a short discussion regarding backyard habitat and a great Eagle Scout project recently completed here in the Gardens. According to the Indiana Wildlife Federation, one needs four elements to create backyard habitats: food, water, shelter and a place to raise young. You can even certify your backyard as a backyard habitat supporting native flora and fauna.
Sam and Tom Coates approached Wellfield staff approximately a year ago wondering if Wellfield was interested in partnering on an Eagle Scout project. Staff suggested their project could address the third habitat element, creating shelter for several different bird species, including eastern bluebirds, wood ducks, wrens, and owls. Bats also suffer from loss of habitat, so we addressed that issue, too! Creating habitat for native wildlife is critical for increasing biodiversity as well as for controlling pest populations. As bird (and bat) homes are not ‘one-size-fits-all’, the Coates brothers worked with staff and a local wood worker, Al Eggink, to design, fabricate, assemble, and install the individual homes. Another great aspect of this project: ALL wood for the boxes was re-purposed from other projects, an important tool in sustainability!
Next time you visit the Gardens, you will see (or perhaps you already have seen) these bird and bat houses displayed. There are nearly 20 boxes, can you find them all? As our urban environment becomes less hospitable to many species, creating garden habitats supporting life in all its variety serves as small, but collectively powerful, support to the planet we all share.
(top photo shows eastern bluebird box)