Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens

2017 Tours of Pat Sutton’s Private Wildlife Garden (40 Years in the Making)

Our wildlife garden has evolved over the last 40 years from a lawn and very few plantings (a Lilac bush and Day Lilies) to probably 100+ native plants and many different components (perennial garden, pocket meadow, shade trees and gardens, wildlife ponds, native woodland, living fences, etc.)  that all lure in and benefit wildlife.  Read this brief history to learn more.

This year I am excited to share that I will be leading tours of my own wildlife garden for two different non-profit organizations (registration will be required and through the appropriate organization, not through me).  Here is a pdf poster about these 2017 Tours of Pat Sutton’s Wildlife Garden.  Sign up for the session that best fits your schedule and realize that the gardens will look completely different each month:

  • July 9, 2017 (Sunday) — 2 tours: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (Morning Session), 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. (Afternoon Session) — LIMIT/tour: 20.  COST/tour: $20 (NJ Audubon member), $25 (nonmember).  Contact NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May at (609) 427-3045 to register.
  • August 12, 2017 (Saturday) — 2 tours: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (Morning Session), 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. (Afternoon Session) — LIMIT/tour: 20.   COST/tour: $20 (CU member), $30 (nonmember).   Contact Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its Tributaries at the office (856) 300-5331 to register and pay for this garden tour or reserve your spot online by clicking here .  Both of the August 12 tours are SOLD OUT.  Call to be put on the Waiting List.
  • September 10, 2017 (Sunday) — 2 tours: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (Morning Session), 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. (Afternoon Session) — LIMIT/tour: 20.  COST/tour: $20 (NJ Audubon member), $25 (nonmember).  Contact NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May at (609) 427-3045 to register.

Join Pat Sutton for a tour of her 40-year-old wildlife garden in Goshen (Cape May Co.), NJ, and opportunity to study and identify pollinators with Pat.  This garden showcases many different ways a habitat can offer the basics: food, cover, and water.  This ½ acre property includes two wildlife ponds, a pocket meadow, extensive shade gardens, wildlife corridors, shrub islands, a woodland of native plants (saved from a jungle of Multiflora Rose in 2009), an extensive pollinator garden (full of hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees), native nectar plants galore, an extensive array of native host plants, feeding stations, many and different water features, as well as many fun garden features and design ideas.  This totally educational experience will benefit and dazzle long-time gardeners and new-to-wildlife-gardening participants alike.

2017 Tours of Chris and Arnold Clemenson’s Private Wildlife Gardens

Clemenson Farms Native Nursery is a wholesale nursery, but they do host special “Retail Sale Days” each year for the general public.

During their Saturday, June 24, 2017,  Retail Sale Day (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) I will be leading 3 tours of Chris & Arnold Clemenson’s beautiful private wildlife gardens in Estell Manor (Atlantic County), NJ.  These gardens showcase many, many lovely and beneficial native plants.

Three Tour Times: 10:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m., or 12:30 p.m.

Tickets are $12.00/person.

Interact directly with Clemenson Farms Native Nursery (not with me) for tour tickets, which are available by reservation or on day of sale. Places are limited and these tours are popular, so reservations are recommended. To reserve your place on a tour, email Christine Clemenson at cac.clem3@gmail.com with your top two time slots. Payment due on day of sale.

Tour ticket includes a Clemenson Farm garden map and plant list. Bring a camera, binoculars, and walking shoes. You’ll go home with plant pictures and  practical ideas for transforming your garden into a pollinator paradise!

NOTE: Gardens will be closed to the general public during tour times, but open after the tours are completed.

Clemenson Farms Native Nursery’s 2017 Retail Sale Days: May 13, June 24, and September 16.  Don’t miss these great opportunities to purchase locally grown natives.  Print their list of available plants and bring it along so you don’t forget anything!

For twenty-three years (1991-2014), I led “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens” in Cape May County.  

Pat and Clay Sutton’s garden during the July Tour 2014

For twenty-three years (1991-2014), I led “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens” in Cape May County.  I saw these tours as one of the best ways  to “grow” more wildlife gardeners.  You can see the excitement in the photo above as tour participants find, study, and share with each other butterflies, spiders, caterpillars, native bees, frogs, turtles, hummingbirds, and the beautiful nectar plants, host plants, wildlife ponds, water features, and habitats that have attracted them.

Initially I led these tours for NJ Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, where I worked as the Program Director.  Between 2007-2014 I led the tours for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May.

Many of the owners of these beautiful, private, wildlife gardens had taken workshops with me and / or attended these tours.

Many garden owners shared with me that a personal goal was to have their own garden included on these tours.  The number of wildlife gardens grew and grew.  Eventually there were so many educational gems to share that I broke Cape May County into three regions and led back-to-back tours, covering different parts of the county each day.  I led these tours in July, August, and September so attendees could see first hand the different “Chocolate Cakes” in bloom month-by-month and the variety of wildlife attracted.

On the final tour, garden-owner Gail Fisher presented me with my very own Chocolate Cake made by her Mom (it was delicious).

And to further spoil us on that final September 2014 garden tour Gail Fisher served homemade Chocolate Cupcakes.

TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR OF PRIVATE WILDLIFE GARDENS

Many of the gardens that were included on the Cape May County tours can be seen in the photo galleries below.  These photos (taken over the years) truly record the evolution of these private wildlife gardens and may give you some great ideas for your own garden.

  • South Tour (Cape Island: Cape May, Cape May Point, West Cape May, and Lower Township)
  • Mid-County Tour (North Cape May, Villas, and Erma)
  • North Tour (Cape May Court House, Goshen  . . . including my own garden, Dennisville, Eldora, South Seaville, and Ocean View)

Earlier this year . . . Wildlife Garden Tours as part of NJ Audubon’s 2017 “Cape May Spring Festival: So Many Birds

May 20 (Saturday) — Noon to 2:30 p.m.  DOUG TALLAMY

Doug Tallamy will be the Keynote lunchtime speaker for NJ Audubon’s Cape May Spring Festival: So Many Birds (preregistration required).  OPEN to ALL: fee for luncheon program with Doug Tallamy is $25 for Spring Festival registrants and $35 for non-registrants.

May 20 (Saturday) — 2:45 to 5:30 p.m. “TROLLEY TOUR OF SPRING WILDLIFE GARDENS WITH DOUG TALLAMY & PAT SUTTON”

Tour spring wildlife gardens to see native plants in action benefiting wildlife and to see different landscape designs utilizing native plants.  Learn from the masters about the key role native plants play in the future of life for birds, pollinators, butterflies and moths, and us!  Tour includes the native plant sale at the Nature Center of Cape May.  Trolley tour begins and ends at the Grande Hotel.  This tour is open to registrants of NJ Audubon’s Cape May Spring Festival: So Many Birds (preregistration required).

May 21 (Sunday) — 1:00 to 4:00 pm  “PAT SUTTON AND THE WILDLIFE GARDENER, JOSH NEMETH, TROLLEY TOUR TO WILDLIFE GARDENS AND NATURAL HABITATS”

Visit sites rich in native plants and enjoy birds, butterflies, wildflowers, and more with two key players in wildlife habitat gardening.  Trolley tour begins and ends at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research and Education, 600 Rt. 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ.  This tour is open to registrants of NJ Audubon’s Cape May Spring Festival: So Many Birds (preregistration required).

Hair Cuts Needed For Some Native Perennials

Hi Gang,

Years ago Flora for Fauna owner Karen Williams shared some sage advice about maintaining one of my favorite native perennials, New England Aster, and I’m about to share it with you.

NEW ENGLAND ASTER
2 HAIR CUTS: Memorial Day & 4th of July

Monarch-NE Aster-PSutton
New England Aster in full bloom (October 9) and providing nectar to dozens of Monarchs

New England Aster can get very tall and top heavy by the time it blooms in the fall. And the last thing any of us want is for its lovely spread of glowing purple flowers, nectar, and joy to be laying on the ground come fall.

To help it grow into a many-branched, bushy plant instead of a tall, gangly, top-heavy plant, all you need to do is to give it 2 hair cuts on or around the 1st two holidays of the growing season: Memorial Day and 4th of July. Of course these dates are not single-day events, but roughly when you want to give New England Aster its hair cuts.

Around Memorial Day, I cut each stem 1/2 (or 2/3) off (or about a foot or two off the top, depending on how tall it is, if that is easier for you to remember). I use big shears and just chop them off. What happens next is that each cut plant stem sends up 2 new shoots where it has been cut, in other words it branches and becomes more bushy!

Around 4th of July, I give my plants their 2nd hair cut (not back to the 1st cut, but cutting back some of the new growth since Memorial Day). You may want to be more creative for this hair cut and cut the many stems in your plant different lengths. For instance, give the stems in the foreground more of a hair cut, the stems in the middle less of a hair cut, and the stems in the back just a little hair cut. This way your plant stems will bloom at different heights.

You may find that some plants haven’t grown as tall as others, so you may choose to pass on the 2nd hair cut for some plants. If so, you’ll find that these plants will bloom earlier. This staggers the blooming period so that you have New England Aster nectar, color, and joy far longer in your wildlife garden.

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My garden on September 27th full of mounds of blooming asters, thanks to hair cuts earlier in the year.

A bit more advice: once given hair cuts, New England Aster has “ugly legs.” The stems below the 1st haircut look “not so nice” . . . the leaves darken and fall off and the stems are quite bare. So you’ll want to have other perennials in the foreground blocking that view, so you’re not looking at ugly bare legs.

You can give 1-2 haircuts to some other fall-blooming perennials that grow tall and flop, so they’ll instead branch and become more bushy:
Goldenrod
Sedum

For some summer-blooming plants that grow too tall for your garden, you can give them one haircut around Memorial Day, forcing them to branch, become bushier, and bloom lower. I do this with some of my favorite summer nectar plants so that I have an easier time seeing and photographing pollinators on them:
Culver’s Root
Ironweed
Joe-pye-weed
Sneezeweed
Blue Vervain
Boneset

You can always experiment on other summer and fall-blooming perennials too that have flopped in your garden. If you’re not sure how hair cuts will turn out on plants other than those I’ve mentioned, try giving a hair cut to one stem ONLY (or if you have several plants of Cut-leafed Coneflower, for example, in your garden, give one of them hair cuts so you can compare results with your uncut plants). Then see how your plant reacts and whether you like the results.

Happy Gardening,
Pat

Some Sources of Native Plants in 2017

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Tiger Swallowtail nectaring on Sweet Pepperbush

Once hooked on wildlife gardening with native plants, it can be a real challenge to find native plants.  Yes a few have been mainstreamed, and the nursery down the street may carry them.  But beware of cultivars of native plant.  Cultivars are plants created or selected for specific characteristics such as early blooming or color, often at the expense of nectar, berries (the plants may be sterile), and sometimes even the leaf chemistry is changed so the plant can no longer be used as a caterpillar plant.  We (wildlife gardeners) want the nectar, the berries, and we want the leaf chemistry intact so our butterflies can create the next generation!

Be careful too that your plants are neonicotinoid free.  Neonicotinoids are systemic (get into every part of the plant, including pollen, nectar, even dew) pesticides that are applied to many commercially-available nursery plants and are harmful to bees, caterpillars, moths, and butterflies.

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Clemenson Farms Native Nursery, their May 3, 2014 Retail Sale Day

Some Sources of NATIVE PLANTS: 2017

by Patricia Sutton

click here for the 3-page printable pdf

8th revision (updated 4-3-17)

The Meadow Project (“Urban and Suburban Meadows” and “Hometown Habitat” by Catherine Zimmerman) shares an excellent state-by-state “Find Native Plants” link, with many additional sources of native plants.

Be sure to also check with your state’s Native Plant Society to see if they have a list of nurseries that carry native plants.  The Native Plant Society of NJ’s Native Plant Nurseries list includes the percentage of natives that each nursery carries, so you can readily see which nurseries you can let your guard down in and which you need to pay sharp attention.

Welcome to our NEW website

In our garden Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia lacinata ‘Herbstsonne’) is a magnet for hairstreaks (like this White-M Hairstreak). The Ailanthus Webworm Moth is enjoying it too.

Please bookmark our NEW website, “Pat Sutton’s Wildlife Garden.”  A technical wizard and wildlife habitat savvy friend helped me set up my new website.  Thank you Bob.  For those of you who do all your work on a smartphone, this site is smartphone friendly.

Be sure to read about “Our Wildlife Garden.”  It will help put my passion and this website into perspective.  For 4 years (2011-2015) I was a proud Team Member of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens, a website that is no longer available.  I will be updating and posting anew here a number of the posts I wrote for that site.  I look forward to posting more regularly now that I have complete control over my website.

This new site is a work in progress with much I still want to do with it, so stop back often to see it unfolding.

Our OLD website, “Pat and Clay Sutton,” disappeared on February 5, 2017 (on that date I could no longer access it).  I did not own my old domain name or site where it was housed (a friend originally set it up for me), so as a forum it was unstable and I had to start over.  Today, April 12, 2017, I just followed a link to our old website and strangers have shanghaied it and filled it with JUNK posts.  YIKES!

2017 Gardening for Wildlife WORKSHOP SERIES

Mistflower with Gray Hairstreak and a caterpillar. Native plants are KEY: many offer nectar and serve as important host plants for butterflies and moths

This year I’ve added two brand new topics,
so there will be 7 in-depth
“Gardening for Wildlife With Native Plants” Workshops (pdf)

on select Saturdays and Sundays
March 11 – April 1, 2017

 the perfect time to shake off winter
and begin planning and planting
(or enhancing) your property and wildlife garden

Learn to create gardens and habitats in little time.  Learn of the best plants for wildlife and sources of locally grown natives.  Learn how to save money by encouraging seed production rather than hampering it with traditional gardening practices.  See immediate results by implementing wildlife-friendly garden practices rather than traditional wildlife death-trap practices.  Benefit from maintenance tips and advice so that your habitat looks its best.

Many (1000s) have taken these workshops, been empowered, and created habitats that have given them pleasure for years to come.

If you have taken one of these workshops with me and would like to share a one-liner (or more) about them that might help others realize their value, I’d be most grateful.  Add your comment(s) in the comment section following this post (I may use your comments as I continue to promote these workshops, so THANKS).

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Shade Gardening is one of 2 new topics covered in 2017

Imagine walking out your own door into a habitat that YOU created, a habitat that fills up with wildlife visitors galore: hummingbirds, butterflies, caterpillars, chrysalises, dragonflies, ladybugs, many different native bees, beetles and other fun pollinators, songbirds, frogs, turtles, moths at night, and more!  Every walk down your garden path is full of wonder, learning, delight, awe . . . almost like traveling to an exotic land, but that exotic place is your own back (or front) yard.  There is nothing more gratifying than knowing that you provide safe haven for all these creatures.

Consider joining me for one, several, or all seven of these workshops (discounted fees when you sign up for 3 or more workshops).  Native plants and wildlife-friendly practices are the key and will be emphasized and detailed throughout.

I present a zillion one- to two-hour programs each year and maybe you’ve attended a few of these. I love teaching them, but (with only one or two hours) they are more one-sided presentations, me sharing fun natural history information and images with you, the audience.

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Prothonotary Warblers returned in 2016 to nest again in Sutton’s garden where they found a wealth of butterfly and moth caterpillars to feed two broods of young

These full-day workshops offer the opportunity to be far more in-depth and interactive and are more likely to empower you, take you to the next level.  Take advantage of this special opportunity to educate yourself.  Don’t count on landscapers or nursery owners; sadly many of them are not well informed about native plants and wildlife gardening practices.   I have heard my share of horror stories where folks have paid dearly for a butterfly garden of native plants and instead ended up with a bed of non-native invasives.

The 5-hour format (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) allows for:

  • an interactive workshop atmosphere
  • each workshop covers a unique aspect of wildlife gardening (in-depth)
  • each workshop builds on the others, but is not repetitive (so you’ll want to try and attend all 7 to maximize your learning opportunity)
  • resources (handouts and circulated books) that are key to your learning and understanding will be shared and showcased
  • you’ll learn how to utilize these resources (find answers to burning questions you may have)
  • time for in-depth questions
  • time for in-depth answers
  • during a working lunch we’ll brainstorm (as a group) each participant’s specific challenges (you’ll draw a rough sketch of your yard and submit a photo of your sketch that I’ll  project so we can all see it for this brainstorming)
  • time to get to know one another and learn from each other (of garden triumphs and tribulations, successes and pitfalls). Nothing beats collective experience and roundtable discussion
  • each workshop will culminate in a site visit to a nearby backyard habitat (including my own and others) where wildlife-friendly practices and design and plant selections will be showcased
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Three different Green Frogs called our ponds home in 2016, along with many Leopard Frogs and Gray Tree Frogs.

Take advantage of the discount by signing up for 3 or more workshops.

So, what do you say! Will I see you in March and early April?

 

 

2017 “GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE WITH NATIVE PLANTS ” WORKSHOPS with Pat Sutton  (pdf)

for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May
1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (609-427-3045)

  1. Saturday, March 11 – How to Create a Backyard Habitat
  2. Sunday, March 12 – Lose the Lawn, Create a Wildflower Meadow Instead (from small “Pocket Meadow” up to sizable meadows)
  3. Saturday, March 18 – How to Create a Pollinator Garden (to benefit Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Moths, Bees, & More) 
  4. Sunday, March 19 – Plant Wars: How to Recognize and Deal With Invasive Plant Species
  5. Saturday, March 25 — How to Create a No-Fuss Wildlife Pond
  6. Sunday, March 26 — How to Make Messy Look Good (Maintenance Tips & Advice) & Shade Gardening (2 NEW topics packed into one session)
  7. Saturday, April 1 – Landscape Design With Wildlife in Mind


Where:
 Please note that the 7 workshops in this series will be held at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research & Education, 600 Rt. 47 N, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210 and not at the Nature Center of Cape May in Cape May.

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 pm.

Limit: 20 participants;  preregistration required  (through NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204; 609-427-3045 — if you reach the message machine, leave a message — your call will be returned).

Cost/workshop (includes handouts):
$40 member of NJ Audubon Society, $50 nonmember
Sign up for three or more workshops for a discount:
$30 each (member); $40 each (nonmember)

Sign up for five or more workshops and receive a FREE ticket to visit Sutton’s garden during peak blooming (dates to be set).

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Sutton’s garden July 9, 2016
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Sutton’s late fall garden, Nov. 14, 2016

All workshops include a site visit to a nearby wildlife garden (Sutton’s garden and others).

Water in the Winter Wildlife Garden

N. Mockingbird and Mourning Dove at heated bird bath

Wildlife needs are pretty basic: food, cover, and water: (1) FOOD in the way of native nectar plants and native berry-producing and seed-producing plants,  (2) COVER so that birds and other wildlife avoid becoming a predator’s next meal, and cover that provides safe places to nest, roost through the night, or get out of bad weather.  Red Cedar, my favorite native evergreen, provides excellent cover.

Providing WATER is just as important as providing food. Songbirds lose water through respiration and in their droppings. To replace lost water, most songbirds need to drink at least twice a day. In order to stay fit and healthy birds also need to bathe to keep their feathers in good condition. Bathing loosens dirt and makes their feathers easier to preen. Preening is a daily ritual where birds carefully clean, rearrange, and oil their feathers (one-by-one) with their bill — spreading oil along each feather from the preen gland. This daily preening successfully waterproofs their feathers and traps an insulating layer of air underneath to keep them warm. Keeping their feathers in perfect condition through daily preening is a matter of life and death. Well maintained feathers enable birds to fly at a moment’s notice and regulate their body temperature.

E. Bluebirds were drawn to our heated bird bath on January 5, 2016, when the temperature was 11 degrees F.

Birds face difficult times when water is scarce or nonexistent during deep freezes or drought periods.  Providing water in the wildlife garden is something many accomplish easily spring through fall, yet fail to do once freezing winter temperatures settle in. There are solutions even in the dead of winter.

A heated bird bath coupled with an outdoor socket is the key. We use an outdoor power cable to connect the two. Our heated bird bath is at least twenty years old. As I researched this post, sadly I found that most of today’s standing heated bird bath designs are tipsy by comparison (bird baths balanced on inadequate tripod legs).

Our oldie-but-goodie heated bird bath (photo on right) is supported by a post with an additional leg for support that can be driven into the ground, so it remains standing no matter what! Today’s tripod-supported bird baths must topple over every time a frisky squirrel leaps up.

Some heated bird baths rest on the ground and come with additional hardware so they can be attached to a railing like this one (photo on left).  If far from cover, place some cut evergreen branches nearby, as we have.

Wildlife gardening friend Jean Riling uses a Bird Bath De-icer unit to keep her bird bath water from freezing (photo below).  Ecosystem Gardener Carole Brown uses a heated dog bowl.

Shy away from “artistic” bird baths that may look pretty but are not as serviceable to birds: too deep, too fragile and likely to break if they topple over, or (most important of all) too hard to keep clean. The heated bird baths we’ve used are made of a hard black plastic material that is very easy to clean with a  good scrub brush and a little muscle.

Remember, birds need cover to avoid hungry predators. Place your heated bird bath near a safe retreat like an evergreen tree or shrub or a brush pile or, as we have, place some cut evergreen branches around it.

Stay away from chemicals! Some folks, who don’t know better, add chemicals to keep their bird bath water from freezing (like glycerine, anti-freeze, or salt). This is a death sentence for the birds. These chemicals can destroy the waterproofing capability of birds’ feathers, or poison the birds.

Hermit Thrush at our heated bird bath

During lengthy periods of frozen conditions water is in such demand that heated bird baths become heavily soiled. To avoid the spread of disease, the wildlife gardener must maintain their heated bird bath with care by scrubbing it out with a soft bristle brush, rinsing it with fresh water to wash out any residual bird droppings, and refilling it with fresh water at least once (and often twice) a day. With heavy use heated bird baths may be emptied by flocks of birds twice a day or more. We keep a jug of water handy by the backdoor to easily facilitate this task.

Gray Catbird at our heated bird bath

Beyond helping birds survive brutal winter weather, our heated bird baths give us great pleasure. We’ve had excellent looks (and photo opportunities) at some real skulkers like Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, and other secretive birds not normally seen in our yard in winter.

Winter can be a stressful time for birds. Lengthy stretches of sub-zero weather can freeze solid every last bit of available water. Natural foods can be buried by snow. Heavy snow or freezing rain can creep into the deepest cover where birds are roosting.

Let’s do what we can to help birds survive a tough winter. Add a heated bird bath or two to your wildlife habitat in winter.

Canna – fall care & winter storage

(small)Ruby-thoated Hummingbird on Canna by Pat Sutton-w-sig
Ruby-throated Hummingbird nectaring on Canna in Pat Sutton’s garden

Now that it’s early December I’d like to share a late fall garden task for those of us living in the Northeast where winters can be harsh.

I normally try to dig up my Cannas by sometime in November for the winter.  This year I’m running really late and took advantage of this wet, but still relatively warm day to do the deed.  For about 5 years I gave away 100+ Canna bulbs each spring.  Those of you who got Cannas from me will want to dig them up, if you haven’t already, before it gets too cold to perform this task.

You could leave them in the ground, but they may rot over the winter, so it’s a lottery (you may lose them all).  If you planted 3 Canna bulbs, don’t be surprised if they’ve multiplied enough to fill 2 large crates.  What a bonus, huh!  If you dig them up and store them properly for the winter, you’ll have more to plant next spring & lots of extras to give away to family, friends, co-workers, neighbors.

If the task of digging them all up is just too much for you, dig up the tubors from just one of your plants so you’re sure to have some to plant next spring.

LATE FALL

When I dig my Canna bulbs up in late November or early December (before it’s too cold to tackle this task):

  • I cut off the top growth (so they’re more manageable)
  • Place a large plastic bag in a shallow tray or a crate
  • Put a layer of leaves, shredded newspaper, or pine needles in the bottom of the bag
  • Tap the dirt off the Canna bulbs and lay them on top of the leaves, shredded newspaper, or pine needles . . . layer, by layer
  • Cover the top layer with more leaves, shredded newspaper, or pine needles (to protect them from a brutal cold winter) and tuck more of the insulating material down around the edges.
  • Then we slide the tray or crate under our house in the crawl space (because we don’t have a basement or a garage).  A  friend with a basement, puts hers into trash cans with leaves or shredded newspaper and keeps them in her basement.  You could probably store the crate or trash can full of Canna bulbs in a garage as well.

SPRING

  • Once the ground is warm, plant single canna bulbs here and there around the garden in spots that get full sun.  They are a lovely accent in the garden.  Or you might enjoy planting  a border or a circular bed of them (they make a great jungle for kids to play hide and seek in).
  • One bulb will send up a number of stalks & lots of flowers that will bloom right through late fall until the frost. 
  • Don’t plant your canna bulbs too deep, otherwise they’ll take forever to peek through the soil & bloom.  Simply scrape away a shallow area (not a deep hole), lay down the Canna bulb, and cover it with soil.

Happy Gardening,

Pat

Monarch Caterpillars: Numbers in Gardens this late Summer and Fall (2016)

sm-monarch-chrysalis-in-virginiarettiggdn-9-25-16001-sigHi Gang,

I have been traveling a lot and so am tardy in sharing some very good news.  I’ve heard from wildlife gardeners near and far that their milkweed patches have been discovered by egg-laying Monarchs.  Caterpillars are still being found, lots of caterpillars!  Chrysalises too, like the one above that I enjoyed today in Virginia Rettig’s lovely North Cape May wildlife garden!

Today I stopped at the West Cape May Elementary School to see their “Schoolyard Habitat” and was thrilled to find their thriving Common Milkweed patch with at least 5 Monarch chrysalises on the brick school and in under steps of wooden ladders placed near the garden (for just that purpose — a safe spot off the beaten path).  Hopefully more and more schools will create and utilize outdoor wildlife gardens like this to connect students with the natural world.

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Display at CMBO Northwood Center on 9-25-16

I also stopped by the Cape May Bird Observatory’s Northwood Center (701 E. Lake Drive, Cape May Point, NJ) and was dazzled by their Monarch Migration display and by their terrariums full of hungry caterpillars and chrysalises!

Don’t miss the Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project’s fun opportunities to learn about Monarchs this fall:

MONARCH TANK TALK

Fridays: Sept. 23, 30, and Oct. 7

10:00 to 10:15 a.m.

At the CMBO Northwood Center (701 E. Lake Drive, Cape May Point, NJ) .  Free.

MONARCH TAGGING DEMOS

Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, & Wednesday

Sept. 14 through October 16  (weather permitting)

2:00 to 2:45 p.m.

Meets at Cape May Point State Park at the East Shelter, the picnic pavilion next to the Hawkwatch Platform.  No preregistration required.  Family-friendly.  FREE.

Full details about these and other programs can be found in CMBO’s Kestrel Express.

To keep your finger on the pulse of the Monarch migration through Cape May this fall, go to the Monarch Monitoring Project BLOG.

As many of you know I have written many posts about Monarchs and Milkweeds for “Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.”  I’d love to share the links with you here so that you can do more reading, but sadly that lovely website is no longer.

 

2016 Gardening for Wildlife WORKSHOP SERIES

w-sig-BYH 2015(001)
Workshop participants enjoying Sutton’s wildlife habitat

I can’t wait to once again teach
the series of 6 in-depth

“Gardening for Wildlife” Workshops (pdf)
on select Saturdays and Sundays
February 27 – March 19, 2016,

 the perfect time to shake off winter
and begin planning and planting
(or enhancing) your property and wildlife garden.

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Every walk down the garden path is full of wonder, here 4 Monarch caterpillars on Swamp Milkweed

Learn to create gardens and habitats in little time, save money (by encouraging seed production rather than hampering it with traditional gardening practices), and see long-term results (by implementing wildlife-friendly garden practices rather than traditional wildlife death-trap practices).

Many (1000s) have taken these workshops, been empowered, and created habitats that have given them pleasure for years to come.

If you have taken one of these workshops with me and would like to share a one-liner (or more) about them that might help others realize their value, I’d be most grateful.  Add your comment(s) in the comment section following this post (I may use your comments as I continue to promote these workshops, so THANKS).

There is nothing more special than stepping out the door into a habitat that YOU created, a habitat that fills up with wildlife visitors galore: hummingbirds, butterflies, caterpillars, chrysalises, dragonflies, ladybugs, many different native bees, beetles and other fun pollinators, songbirds, frogs, turtles, moths at night, and more!  Every walk down your garden path is full of wonder, learning, delight, awe . . . almost like traveling to an exotic land, but that exotic place is your own back (or front) yard.  There is nothing more gratifying than knowing that you provide safe haven for all these creatures.

Hummingbird amidst Sutton’s late fall garden of still-blooming asters and salvias

Consider joining me for one, several, or all six of these workshops (discounted fees when you sign up for 3 or more workshops).  Native plants and wildlife-friendly practices are the key and will be emphasized and detailed throughout.

I present a zillion one- to two-hour programs each year and maybe you’ve attended a few of these. I love teaching them, but (with only one or two hours) they are more one-sided presentations, me sharing fun natural history information and images with you, the audience.

These full-day workshops offer the opportunity to be far more in-depth and interactive and are more likely to empower you, take you to the next level.  Educate yourself.  Don’t count on landscapers or nursery owners; sadly many of them are not well informed about native plants and wildlife gardening practices.   I have heard my share of horror stories where folks have paid dearly for a butterfly garden of native plants and instead got a bed of non-native invasives.

 

The 5-hour format (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) allows for:

  • an interactive workshop atmosphere
  • each workshop covers a unique aspect of wildlife gardening (in-depth)
  • each workshop builds on the others, but is not repetitive (so you’ll want to try and attend all 6 to maximize your learning opportunity)
  • resources (handouts and circulated books) will be shared and showcased
  • you’ll learn how to utilize these resources (find answers to burning questions you may have)
  • time for in-depth questions
  • time for in-depth answers
  • during a working lunch we’ll brainstorm (as a group) each participant’s specific challenges (you’ll draw a rough sketch of your yard and submit a photo of your sketch that I’ll  project so we can all see it for this brainstorming)
  • time to get to know one another and learn from each other (of garden triumphs and tribulations, successes and pitfalls). Nothing beats collective experience and roundtable discussion
  • each workshop will culminate in a site visit to a nearby backyard habitat (including my own and others) where wildlife-friendly practices and design and plant selections will be showcased
Golden-crowned Kinglet successfully finding food in Frost Aster, a lovely native

So, what do you say! Will I see you in late February & March?

Take advantage of the discount by signing up for 3 or more workshops.  Sign up today and begin getting ready for the workshops. Draw a rough sketch of your yard, indicating structures (and hardscapes like driveways, decks, etc.), existing habitats (lawn, forest, lone trees, shrub islands, gardens, bird feeding station, brush pile, etc.), and mark NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST on the sketch. Take time to note the sun’s path through your yard and where the sunniest areas are. Begin making a wish list of the elements you want to add as well as the elements you need to work around.

****************************************************************************************************

2016 GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE WORKSHOPS

with Pat Sutton (pdf)

for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May
1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (609-898-8848)

  1. Saturday, February 27 – How to Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife
  2. Sunday, February 28 – Lose the Lawn, Create a Wildflower Meadow Instead (from small “Pocket Meadow” up to sizable meadows)
  3. Saturday, March 5 – How to Create a Pollinator Garden (to benefit Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Moths, Bees, & More) 
  4. Sunday, March 6 – Battlestar Backyardia – Battling the Alien Invaders (How to Recognize and Deal With Invasive Species)
  5. Saturday, March 12 — How to Create a No-Fuss Wildlife Pond
  6. Saturday, March 19 – Landscape Design With Wildlife In Mind
Pat Sutton’s Monarch Waystation

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 pm.

Where: Please note that the 6 workshops in this series will be held at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research & Education, 600 Rt. 47 N, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210 and not at the Nature Center of Cape May in Cape May.

Limit: 20 participants;  preregistration required  (through NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204; 609-898-8848 — if you reach their message machine, do leave a message . . . they’ll get back to you).

Cost/workshop (includes handouts):
$40 member of NJ Audubon Society, $50 nonmember
Sign up for three or more workshops for a discount:
$30 each (member); $40 each (nonmember)

Sign up for all six workshops and receive a FREE copy of Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home or an 8 oz. HummZinger Hummingbird Feeder.
All workshops include a site visit to a nearby wildlife garden (Sutton’s garden and others).

The Ultimate Reward for a Wildlife Gardener

sm-sm-w-sig-010Hi Gang,

After all our hard work whipping our wildlife gardens into shape I hope you too have been enjoying some rewards and visions.  Wanted to share my surprise visitor with you.  Read all about it in . . .

My June & July 2015 posts
for Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens:

“Front Porch Prothonotaries”  &

“Front Porch Prothonotaries — Part 2”

Please share your comments and questions in the comment section following the posts (rather than write to me directly), that way everyone can benefit from your comments and questions, my answers, and all the additional sage advice that others share.

Happy Gardening,  Pat