Exercise, Relax, Have Fun and do something for the Environment at the same time!
Sound Impossible? Not really! Ok, you can't do all of those at the exact same time. Well,
maybe you can, depending one what you consider to be relaxing.
So how do you do it?
Gardening for Butterflies and other Wildlife
If you plant a garden in your yard with plants that benefit wildlife - you will get some great
exercise and fresh air, help the environment and have fun, and when you are all done you can sit back
and relax and watch all the beautiful butterflies that come into your garden, and the birds, dragonflies, etc.
It's not that hard really! So can always start out small and expand you garden or garden areas a little
bit more each year.
What to Plant and Why
1 - For Birds:
Gold finches love Purple Cone Flowers. These are perennials that can be bought at almost any nursery and
are native to most of the US. They are easy to grow in almost any soil and need very little care. After
the flowers are finished blooming they form seeds which Gold Finches love! Gold finches also love sunflowers.
They may pull off some of the petals now and then, but they are such beautiful birds, you won't care!
Hummingbirds especially like Cardinal Flowers. They are the major pollinator of this plant. Cardinal
Flowers can also be bought from most nuseries are native to most of the US. Other plants with red flowers
are also attractive to hummingbirds, such as salvia, monarda and many others. I have found that the red/orange
colored lantana is also a great way to attract them. Of course, you can also buy a hummingbird feeder. Just
make sure you clean it out often and don't put red food coloring in it - it isn't necessary and isn't
recommended anymore. Check out the site
http://www.hummingbirds.net to find out more about hummingbirds and
when they will be in your area.
2 - For Butterflies:
There are two general type of plants to grow to attract butterflies. Nectar plants and host plants. Nectar
plants are the ones the adult butterflies come to to get nectar. Host plants are the ones they lay eggs on and
their babies eat. If you only plant nectar plants you will only be able to attract butterflies that are
already around. If you plant host plants you will help to increase your local butterfly population.
Host plants can get complicated because most species of butterflies are picky about what plants they can use
as a host plant. For example, Monarchs will only use milkweed and Spicebush Swallowtails like only
Spicebush and Sassafras. Check out the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center's web site at:
http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/bflyusa.htm from there you can go to the county
you live in and find out which butterflies live in your area and which host plants they use. I would
then recommend doing searches on your favorite search engine to get more information about specific
butterflies and their preferences.
3 - Other Wildlife:
In general to attract wildlife to your yard - plant plants that are native to your area. These plants are
the ones that other living things where you live depend on for food and shelter. If you plant them you will
attract all kinds of living things, which will in turn attract other life. It's really a magical transformation
that will take place in your yard - it will come to life!
Once you have your garden planted - sit back and relax and enjoy it!
And just as important:
the birds and the butterflies and the other living things in this beautiful world will love you!