Wild Yards: Foodies R Us

Last week, we kicked off a new series about diversity in your garden, and what the keys are to creating a low maintenance landscape. This week, we look at one of the keys to creating diversity: food.

All living things must have food to survive. The keys to attracting wildlife to your yard are knowledge and variety. Once you decide who you would like to invite into your yard, knowing what they like to eat and offering them a variety of tasty treats will increase the odds they will accept your invitation. I mean, who wants to eat the same thing every day!?

Native plants are a great place to start. They have lived here for thousands of years and have adapted swimmingly to our climate. Therefore, many of the native wildlife in our area have also chosen their favorite native plants upon which to munch. Plants provide a variety of food – from buds to leaves to berries to nuts to nectar! They also attract insects, providing food to certain wildlife looking for protein.

Wellfield offers several gardens showcasing native plants. In our Adventure Path & Children’s Gardens, we leave seed heads on the plants during winter to provide seed for wildlife during those cold winter months as food sources are depleted.

Trees & shrubs will also provide an abundance of leaves, bark, fruits and nuts for wildlife. Even dead trees & fallen branches provide food by attracting insects, mosses and fungi. It is a living snack bar for wildlife in search of a quick treat! The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a handy chart listing a plethora of trees and shrubs and whether or not they provide a food source.

Of course, you can always supplement with feeders. There are a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits and nectar products to fill a variety of bird and squirrel feeders. The National Audubon Society has a quick list of tips to get you started. Just be aware a delicious buffet can also attract unwanted guests. We recently discovered bandits were depleting our bird feeders within days of filling them! We suspect the culprits are raccoons. Until we can further investigate and adjust our bird feeder setup, we have curbed filling feeders in order to discourage those masked bandits thieving from our feathered friends!

Hopefully this information will get you eager to host some new dinner guests in your own backyard. Next week, we’ll check in with Cody to see how you can provide water to wash it all down.

Tammy Hopkins, Horticulturist

Missed any of our latest posts? Click below to catch up on what you’ve missed:

  • Home-Grown Ornamentals 
    As we transition into fall, our horticulture staff is exploring some common native plants you can look for during your next visit to Wellfield and consider adding to your own landscape. Continue reading
  • Transitioning Gardens – Plants for Fall 
    New horticulture staffer Mary tells us some of her favorite fall plants and why you may want to include some of them in your garden – and where you can check them out on your next visit to Wellfield! Continue reading
  • Indoor Oasis
    Cody tells us about how his love of house plants lead him to a career choice, and how too much love can sometimes be a bad thing when it comes to plants! Continue reading
  • Plant Diagnostics
    The plants are in the ground, they are growing and blooming, but now comes the challenge: diagnosing issues some of our plants are having. Here’s what our horticulture team does when they can’t solve the problem themselves. Continue reading
  • Plants Tammy Has Not Seen Before
    Our horticulturalist, Tammy, took a cool field trip to a local nursery and picked up some interesting plants to display in our Sensory Garden. Continue reading

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