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

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