NATIVE Plants for Wildlife

Hi Gang,

I’m looking forward to teaching a series of programs about:

NATIVE PLANTS FOR WILDLIFE

and the birds, butterflies, moths, and other critters that NEED / benefit from each of them

Wild Columbine by Pat Sutton

From a naturalist’s perspective, these programs will be based on my 30+ years of gardening for wildlife and witnessing the direct benefits in my very own backyard wildlife garden.

The programs will be held at:


Cape May Court House Library
30 Mechanic Street, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
in their downstairs Storytime Room
from 6:00-7:30 p.m.

These programs are FREE.

Bring questions, photos, and stories of your own to share.

Topics & dates follow:

 

Native Spring-blooming Perennials — June 7 (Tuesday)

Native Shrubs — June 20 (Monday)

Native Summer-blooming Perennials — August 8 (Monday)

Native Fall-blooming Perennials — September 12 (Monday)

Native Trees — October 3 (Monday)

Native Vines and Grasses — November 14 (Monday)

To learn more, go to the Cape May County Library’s Calendar.

Hope to see some of you there!

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

T H E Y ‘ R E   B A C K  !

Ruby-thHumm(male)-4-18-09-on feeder

Hi Gardening Gang,

Thel Brown wrote to let me know that she had a Ruby-throated Hummingbird visit her West Deptford garden yesterday (Saturday, April 2) in Gloucester County, NJ (up near the Delaware River).

Don’t know about you, but I worked feverishly last night to get ready for them in my own yard. I boiled up a quart of solution (1 cup sugar & 4 cups of water), let it cool down in the refrigerator, and this morning filled and hung 4 feeders, hither & yon. I stored the extra solution in my refrigerator. This time of year you don’t need to fill your feeders, since activity is minimal (1 territorial male and maybe 1 female a week or so later, if you’re lucky). I only put 2 ounces in each feeder & will empty them, clean them thoroughly, & refill with 2 ounces of fresh solution once a week (unless the weather turns HOT & then clean & refill more frequently. I don’t fill the feeders with 4 ounces each until activity picks up in late June (when the first batch of young are “on the wing”).

Our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have spent the winter in southern Mexico (and as far south as Costa Rica). They arrived in the U.S. in late February and have been moving north, keeping pace with the opening of their favorite flowers.

So far all my garden has to offer is the first few flowers on my Flowering Quince shrubs and budding Red Maple trees. My Coral Honeysuckle vine recently leafed out, but I don’t even see buds yet. SO feeders are crucial now to newly arrived hummers.

Keep track of their movements by following this terrific website Hummingbirds.net

I’m looking forward to teaching a program all about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May on April 16 (Saturday). Consider joining me! The more you know about these winged jewels, the better your chances are of attracting hummingbirds to your own garden & holding on to them by knowing and practicing wildlife-friendly gardening. Details follow:

Ruby-th Humm on Cardinal Flower by Pat SuttonApril 16 (Saturdays) — 1 to 3 pm

“Hummingbirds 101 — All About Ruby-throated Hummingbirds & How to Attract Them — with Pat Sutton”

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

Get ready, get set, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are coming. Where have they been all winter? In the Tropics! Why leave a tropical area to return to New Jersey? Will more than one settle into a backyard garden? Where is the nest? What does the female use to build her tiny nest? Do I need to buy bottled nectar for my feeder? Is red dye needed in feeders? Did you know that hummingbirds like spiders (for at least two reasons)? Even if you think you know everything about these winged jewels, expect to be surprised by what you learn during this presentation by Pat Sutton, naturalist and wildlife gardener. She will show you an a actual hummingbird nest and will share essential tips on how to ready your yard so that you can be entertained by a blizzard of hummingbirds for the next five months. Before this program, download, print, and read the NJ Audubon articles by Pat Sutton: “How to Create a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden” & “Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths.”

Limit: 30 participants; preregistration is required. Cost: $15 member of NJ Audubon Society, $20 nonmember (includes handouts).

Take advantage of the following great opportunities to add additional hummingbird nectar plants to your garden:

April 30 (Saturday) — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Backyard Habitat Plant Swap

at NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May

1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (609-898-8848)

This year’s theme is caterpillar host plants! Now is the perfect time to thin out the perennial garden and share some of your garden success with others. Admission to the swap is one plant and a new or used garden tool. The new or used garden tool is your “shower gift” to help the nature center stock up on equipment to use in educational gardening programs. For your admission, you will be entitled to take one “swap plant” home with you. Bring additional plants to swap on a 1:1 ratio. Plants may be dropped off on Friday, April 29th, and you will be given a credit voucher to use on your return on Saturday. Please check out our Web site for a list of caterpillar host plants at NJ Audubon’s website. Admission: One plant and one new or used garden tool.

May 6-7 (Friday-Saturday)

Native Plant Sale & Native Plant Swap at the

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore

in Pomona, NJ (Atlantic Co)

organized by fellow wildlife gardener Jesse Connor. Lots of excellent hard-to-find natives will be available, including Black Cherry and Red Cedar trees (in the plant swap). Even if you live outside of Atlantic County, it will be worth the drive. April 1st was the deadline for orders for the Plant Sale (but Jesse may have ordered a few extras of certain goodies). To learn full details about the Plant Sale and the Plant Swap download all 4 documents at the UUCSJS website under the header — UUCSJS Annual Native Plant Swap & Sale.

May 21-22 (Saturday & Sunday) — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

ORDER BY April 30th for pick up May 21 & 22

10th Annual Plant Sale (for Wildlife Gardens)

at NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May

1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (609-898-8848)

Your gardens will be the buzz, tweet and talk of the neighborhood when you get off to a good start with top-quality plants. We emphasize the use of New Jersey native plants, which benefit wildlife and have a strong ornamental appeal for the backyard landscape. Some non-native (but non-invasive) perennials and annuals, which offer an added boost to butterfly gardens, will also be available. For an order form, call the nature center at 609.898.8848 or go to the NCCM’s 10th Annual Plant Sale Order Form.

HAPPY SPRING & HAPPY GARDENING,

Pat

Battling Invasive Plants WORKSHOP

Hi Gang,

Invasives are everywhere we look.  This majestic tree, covered in English Ivy, is doomed.  Many invasive plants, like this one, were brought to America mainly as decorative plants.

I’m looking forward to teaching the final workshop in the 5-part “Gardening for Wildlife” series this coming Saturday, focused on a problem we’ve all dealt with.  I’ll be drawing a lot from my own experiences, including recovering our woods from a 10′ high wall of impenetrable Multiflora Rose.  The excellent book, Invasive Plants, Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species, by Kaufman and Kaufman, will be our guide.

Hope you can join me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Battlestar Backyardia, Battling the Alien Invaders

How to deal with invasive species

10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Many people are not aware of the damage they can do when they plant non-native, invasive problem plants. In a very short while these plants might invade the neighbor’s yard, properties across the street and down the street, and even nearby preserves.

The invasion of non-natives has taken a big toll on butterflies and moths (that need native plants to lay their eggs on) and insect-eating birds looking for butterfly and moth caterpillars. Sadly, most nurseries contribute heavily to this problem by offering for sale many known culprits, plants that are outlawed in surrounding states and plants that the State of New Jersey is spending enormous amounts of money to control and remove from natural areas. Purple Loosestrife is a prime example, yet one of many.

Most shoppers assume that nurseries are acting responsibly, but the wise gardener needs to be informed (and outspoken) when they find problem invasive plants for sale at local nurseries.

This program will showcase key invasive plants, help you learn how to identify them, offer suggestions on how to control or remove these plants if they find their way into your garden, and suggest alternatives.

Limit: 30 participants; preregistration is required.

Cost/workshop: $35 member of NJ Audubon Society, $45 nonmember (includes handouts).

To Register Contact: NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (609-898-8848).

Milkweeds for Monarchs WORKSHOP

Monarch on Common Milkweed in Sutton's Monarch Waystation-byPatSutton Hi Gang,

We’ve enjoyed the first three “Gardening for Wildlife Workshops” in the 5-part series to date. This coming Saturday’s workshop focuses on”Milkweeds for Monarchs” just in time for returning Monarchs. Follow “Journey North’s” website to see where northbound Monarchs are right now.

If you missed the “How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden” workshop on March 12, general butterfly gardening will be covered during this workshop. There’s still room in this workshop, so join me if you can.

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

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Milkweeds for Monarchs — 10 am to 3 pm

Monarch butterflies make the most amazing migration of any insect in the world. Join Pat Sutton to learn all about their life cycle and journey from Mexico to the U.S. and Canada, and back to Mexico for the winter months. Their future depends on healthy milkweed stands here in the U.S. where their numbers multiply (spring through fall). There are many different and beautiful native milkweeds that you can plant in your own garden or in community gardens to help create a path of milkweed from Mexico to Canada that will benefit Monarchs. Plant it and they will come!

Limit: 30 participants; preregistration is required.

Cost/workshop: $35 member of NJ Audubon Society, $45 nonmember (includes handouts).

To Register Contact: NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (609-898-8848).

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds Have Arrived in the US

Hi Gang,

I’ll bet you’re as eager as I am for spring. Well, it is happening. Heard a Wood Frog calling from one of our Dragonfly Ponds in yesterday’s rain.

Our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have spent the winter in southern Mexico south to Costa Rica. They’ve begun their migration north and have been arriving along the Gulf Coast this past week. They’ll continue moving north, keeping pace with the opening of their favorite flowers. By late March and early April they near NJ, often settling in by mid-April.

Keep track of their movements here.

Happy Spring!

 

How to Create a Wildlife Habitat in Your Garden

sm-Pat in the GDN-5-16-10(001)Hi Gang, Amidst all this wintery weather it’s been fun to think of spring and our gardens.  I’ve shared below some great opportunities and some of the programs I’ll be giving / teaching / leading in the coming months.   NOT to be missed!  Mark your calendars and don’t miss these terrific opportunities.

March 5, 12, 19, 26, & April 2 — all Saturdays — 10 am to 3 pm

2011 “Gardening For Wildlife Workshops” with Pat Sutton

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

  • Saturday, March 5, 2011 – How to Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife
  • Saturday, March 12, 2011 – How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden
  • Saturday, March 19, 2011 – How to Create a Wildflower Meadow & Wildlife Pond
  • Saturday, March 26, 2011 – Milkweeds for Monarchs
  • Saturday, April 2, 2011 – Invasives – Battling the Alien Invaders

Join Pat Sutton for this series of five property-owner workshops on how to enhance your backyard landscaping for wildlife. Native plants and wildlife-friendly practices are the key. The final workshop addresses a key issue, learning to ID invasive problem plants and how to rid your garden of them. Come learn how to plan your own backyard, no matter how small, to attract showy hummingbirds, Monarchs and other butterflies, nesting birds such as bluebirds, wintering birds, and so much more!

Valuable handouts will include Pat’s list of native trees, shrubs, and vines most utilized by wildlife and a list of primary book and internet resources. These workshops have been scheduled for early spring, the perfect time to shake off winter and begin planning and planting (or enhancing) your wildlife gardens.

The first workshop is the backbone to the series (try not to miss it) and will supply a good foundation for the following sessions. Each will include a question-and-answer session and a visit to a nearby backyard habitat. During a working lunch, participants will have the opportunity to discuss their own gardens.

Before this program, download, print, and read the NJ Audubon articles by Pat Sutton: “How to Create a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden” and “Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths.”

Limit: 30 participants; preregistration is required.

Cost/workshop: $35 member of NJ Audubon Society, $45 nonmember (includes handouts).

Sign up for all five workshops for a discount: $125 member, $150 nonmember.

MORE DETAILS ABOUT EACH OF THE WORKSHOPS IN THE 2011 GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE SERIES

Saturday, March 5, 2011 – How to Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife

– 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

In the “Go Green” movement, all too often yards are forgotten and, in fact, many yards are the antithesis of green. The first and most important step is to “Go Native,” to favor native plants and wildlife-friendly practices. Pat Sutton will showcase native trees, shrubs, vines, wildflowers, and even weeds that are most beneficial to birds and other wildlife.

From the perspective of a life-long naturalist intimate with the workings of the natural world, Sutton will share countless common-sense garden maintenance techniques that will help property owners avoid common practices that actually harm rather than benefit wildlife.

In addition to the obvious (bird feeders, bird houses, and bird baths), this program is packed with the “how’s and why’s” of attracting birds, butterflies and other wildlife to your backyard, no matter how small. In rapidly developing regions, backyards are critical wildlife habitat for nesting, migratory, and wintering birds, as well as frogs and toads, butterflies, dragonflies, and other beneficial insects.

Patricia Sutton, in her long-time capacity as Naturalist and Program Director with the Cape May Bird Observatory, researched and wrote the New Jersey Audubon Society booklet, Backyard Habitat For Birds, a Guide for Landowners and Communities in New Jersey.

Saturday, March 12, 2011 – How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden –

10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Pat Sutton, a working naturalist and backyard habitat champion for the past 30 years, will cover the basic “how to’s” for creating a butterfly & hummingbird-friendly garden and yard.

It is often as simply as planting Sweep Pepperbush over Crape Myrtle or Joe-pye-weed, Purple Coneflower, New England Aster, and Goldenrod rather than Marigolds. Double the size of your parsley patch and be amazed by all the Black Swallowtails it attracts. Meet all the needs of hummingbirds and be dazzled by them in your gardens from late April through early October.

The obvious, like good nectar sources and their blooming periods, will be covered. And the not so obvious, like caterpillar food plants butterflies and moths need for egg laying, mud puddling, and the importance of proper cover from wind and weather will also be included.

The mystery of a butterfly’s life cycle and where butterflies winter will be explained. Where hummingbirds go in winter, why they leave us when our gardens are still in bloom, when they return (i.e. when to have your yard ready for them), hummingbird feeder maintenance, and lots of other natural history fun facts will be shared.

The program features wildlife gardens in South Jersey that have successfully transformed typical backyards into dazzling gardens ablaze and alive with butterflies and hummingbirds.

Saturday, March 19, 2011 – How to Create a Wildflower Meadow & Wildlife Pond

– 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

MEADOW – Learn how to enhance your backyard landscaping for wildlife by creating a wildflower meadow. Many areas have lost their meadows to subdivisions and corporate headquarters landscaped with acres and acres of sod lawn – monocultures that are green deserts for wildlife, offering no cover, no food (nectar, seeds, etc.), and no beauty (blooming wildflowers and lovely native grasses). Clouds of butterflies and nesting bluebirds can still be found where meadows abound.

If you (or your corporate headquarters) have more lawn than you need and mowing gobbles up precious time and expensive gas, consider turning some of this lawn into a wildflower meadow. Even a small meadow will make a big difference to wildlife. A meadow can be simple to create and Pat Sutton will share the basics. Learn how to convert lawn to meadow, how to maintain your meadow in a simple fashion over time, and how to make it acceptable and attractive to neighbors and visitors.

WILDLIFE POND – Frogs, toads, and dragonflies all need freshwater ponds for egg laying to create future generations. Even a tiny pond will attract and support them. Learn what a true wildlife pond is and how simple it is to create – with no need for running water, filters, fish, and all the fuss. Pat Sutton will share the basics of how to create a wildlife pond and, even more importantly, how to maintain it so that wildlife benefits.

Learn which native plants to add to the pond (and which problem plants to avoid), and don’t be surprised if Sutton offers to share native plants from her very own ponds. Don’t make the same mistake that others have made by creating a “fish pond” or an outdoor bathtub. In a true wildlife pond, expect to attract and get to watch the amazing life cycle of huge Green Darner dragonflies or count a growing population of Leopard Frogs and Green Frogs that find your pond as if by magic. You can watch butterflies and hummingbirds nectaring on Pickerelweed flowers in your pond. Create it and they will come!

Saturday, March 26, 2011 – Milkweeds for Monarchs

– 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Monarch butterflies make the most amazing migration of any insect in the world. Join Pat to learn all about their life cycle and journey from Mexico to the U.S. and Canada, and back to Mexico for the winter months. Their future depends on healthy milkweed stands here in the U.S. where their numbers multiply (spring through fall).

There are many different and beautiful native milkweeds that you can plant in your own garden or in community gardens to help create a path of milkweed from Mexico to Canada that will benefit Monarchs. Plant it and they will come!

Saturday, April 2, 2011 – Battlestar Backyardia – Battling the Alien Invaders – How to deal with invasive species

– 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

So many people are not aware of the damage they can do when they plant non-native, invasive problem plants. In a very short while these plants might invade the neighbor’s yard, properties across the street and down the street, and even nearby preserves.

The invasion of non-natives has taken a big toll on butterflies and moths (that need native plants to lay their eggs on) and insect-eating birds looking for butterfly and moth caterpillars.

Sadly, most nurseries contribute heavily to this problem by offering for sale many known culprits, plants that are outlawed in surrounding states and plants that the State of New Jersey is spending enormous amounts of money to control and remove from natural areas.

Purple Loosestrife is a prime example, yet one of many. Most shoppers assume that nurseries are acting responsibly, but the wise gardener needs to be informed (and outspoken) when they find problem invasive plants for sale at local nurseries.

This program will showcase key invasive plants, help you learn how to identify them, and offer suggestions on how to control or remove these plants if they find their way into your garden.

Limit/workshop: 30 participants; preregistration is required.

Cost/workshop: $35 member of NJ Audubon Society, $45 nonmember (includes handouts).

Sign up for all five workshops for a discount: $125 member, $150 nonmember.

Space is limited, and preregistration is required. Please call the Nature Center of Cape May at 609-898-8848 to reserve your spot.

And happy wildlife gardening!

Diseased Caterpillars

Hi Gang,

There’s a great article about parasites that target butterflies (in all stages … eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, adults) in the latest issue of American Butterflies (the journal of the North American Butterfly Association), titled “When Butterflies Get Bugs — the ABCs of Lepidopteran Disease.”

Very informative!!!! Great to be informed.

American Butterflies is a terrific publication, always packed with informative and fun, meaty articles — not the fluffy stuff of so many publications. If you’re not a member of NABA (North American Butterfly Association), consider joining and supporting this nonprofit that promotes butterfly watching, gardening, study, conservation.

Happy Gardening!

Tours of Private Monarch Gardens

Monarch on Milkweed

Hi Gardening Friends,

The “Tours of Private Monarch Gardens” are fast approaching. And well timed indeed.

All our gardens are swarming with Monarchs, a host of other butterflies, hummingbird moths, and hummingbirds (though by mid-September Ruby-throated Hummingbird numbers will lessen).

Since August 30th at least a dozen Monarchs have been in view at any one time in my own garden, lilting about, sailing from wildflower to wildflower, dashing after one another, and even a few have been paired up and mating and laying eggs. It’s a magic time of year indeed.

Migrating Monarchs from the North are now moving through with each cold front. And our local Monarchs, not yet ready to migrate, are mating and creating yet one more generation that will migrate south later this fall.

The “Old Fashioned” Sedum with the soft pink flowers began blooming this week & is carpeted with Monarchs, American Ladies, Common Buckeyes, hairstraks, Sachems (a type of skipper), and more! Tropical Milkweed is still in full bloom and, being an annual, will bloom right up until the frost — truly a show stopper! One of my patches of Tropical Milkweed had 6 nectaring Monarchs on it this morning. On closer inspection I spotted a number of Monarch caterpillars happily munching leaves below the nectaring adults.

Common Milkweed is looking a bit nasty right now, having bloomed back in July, but despite that its leaves are still attracting adult Monarchs looking to lay eggs. In fact right now all the other milkweeds in our Monarch Gardens (Tropical, Swamp, Butterflyweed, & Common Milkweed) are covered with Monarch eggs, caterpillars, hidden chrysalides, and adults continuing to lay new eggs daily.

We’re all having great fun monitoring our Milkweed patches and looking for these hidden treasures that will be part of the final fall generation of migrating Monarchs. By the time of the tours New England Aster, Seaside Goldenrod, and other fall blooming plants will be in full bloom and STUNNING! My Coral Honeysuckle is yet having another resurgence and in full bloom again, making lingering hummingbirds happy.

The Cape May Bird Observatory’s Monarch Monitoring Project has begun and this fall’s intern, Jenny Howard, is already tallying numbers day-by-day and tagging migrants. Learn of CMBO’s FREE Monarch Tagging Demos.

Details of the Nature Center of Cape May’s Semtember “Tours of Private Monarch Gardens” follows:

  • Friday (September 10) we’ll tour “Mid-County Gardens” (North Cape May to Rio Grande)
  • Saturday (September 11) we’ll tour “North Gardens” (Eldora & Dennisville & South Seaville south to Goshen & Reeds Beach)
  • Sunday (September 12) we’ll tour “South Gardens” (Cape May, Cape May Point, and farmland south of Cape May Canal)

My own garden is on the “North Tour” on Saturday, but all the gardens are GEMS and stunning and offer great learning opportunities, plus lots of fun wildlife watching. The tours are a great way to get ideas for your own garden and to see first hand various garden designs, plant combinations, native plants that are lovely, nectar plants, caterpillar plants, great shrub ideas, garden accents and features like misters, dragonfly ponds, arbors, and of course LOTS of wildlife.

Imagine getting a glimpse into private backyard wildlife gardens, interacting with the artists who created them, having each and every garden and wildlife question answered, and enjoying it with a group of fellow wildlife gardeners. Please consider joining me for one or all of these tours.

Details about the tours (pricing, what to bring, where to meet) & how to sign up for these September Tours are at the end of this e-mail. Or call the Nature Center of Cape May TODAY to book your place(s) by calling: 609-898-8848 (be prepared to pay for your spot, preregistration is required to hold your place).

If some of you are keen to create a butterfly & hummingbird garden, be sure to download the article & plant list I wrote / created:

Plan to join me on one, two, or all 3 of the remaining 2010 “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens” that I will be leading for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May.