Spring Cleanup in the Wildlife Garden

WHEN and HOW to clean up the winter wildlife garden is a question I am often asked.  My advice: (1) wait until you have a stretch of warm days (not a warm day here and there), (2) don’t go at it with a rake, but instead break off stems and set them loosely single-layer along the border of your property or in your woods (which is what I do) so overwintering insects can still complete their life cycle (because, believe me, there is hidden life you will not “spot,” (3) leave your old mulch down, especially if it is salt hay since salt hay will break down into soil (it does not need to be removed), (4) wait to put new salt hay down for a while until more and more of your perennials come up and you can see where they are.

Spring cleaning, if done with wildlife in mind, is a slow process. On hands and knees each section is tackled slowly enough to spot garden treasures (overwintering chrysalises on stems, partially grown caterpillars in curled up leaves, microscopic eggs on plant material). Each spring many treasures are found along the way: spider egg sacks (some intact, others that had been discovered by hungry birds and emptied sometime over the winter), Carolina Mantid egg cases, and plant stems that have been nibbled to the core (proof that the garden’s dormant insects aided wintering birds).

Learn more about how and when to clean up your wildlife garden by reading two columns I wrote:

Spring Cleanup in the Perennial Garden,
Don’t Overdo It, PART ONE
by Pat Sutton
Originally published on the website Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens (sadly a website that no longer exists, but many of the articles contributors wrote have been stored at one of the original team member’s sites).

Spring Cleanup in the Perennial Garden,
Part TWO
by Pat Sutton
Originally published on the website Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens (sadly a website that no longer exists, but many of the articles contributors wrote have been stored at one of the original team member’s sites).

2012 Wildlife Garden TOURS

(1) meadow w-sigThis is the 21st year I’ve been leading these tours of private backyard wildlife gardens.  And they just keep getting yummier and yummier!

Be sure to mark your calendars with the following dates & plan to join me on one, several, or all NINE of the 2012 “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens” that I will again be leading for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May.

Alert your friends, family, neighbors, … anyone you’re trying to HOOK on wildlife gardening!

These wildlife-friendly gardens offer so many ideas in the way of design, use of space, plant combinations, native plants that are lovely AND beneficial to wildlife, “chocolate cake” nectar plants, key caterpillar plants, great native shrub ideas, “how to” create your own meadow ideas, garden accents and features like misters, dragonfly ponds, arbors . . .

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.

Enjoy a SNEAK PEAK (South Tour, North Tour, Mid-County Tour) into some of the gardens we’ve visited in the past.

“Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens”

with NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May

1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, NJ 08204

(609)898-8848

 

Tours of Private BUTTERFLY Gardens — 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, July 13: SOUTH “Cape Island”

Saturday, July 14: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande”

Sunday, July 15: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville”

(2) Butterfly GDN.jpgMore butterfly and hummingbird gardens are tucked into Cape May County than probably anywhere else in the country. Mid-July is the time of peak butterfly diversity and numbers. Gardens look completely different from one month to the next (so seriously consider all 9 tours). Learn the magic combination of native nectar plants and caterpillar plants that makes a garden especially attractive to butterflies. Design ideas and new wildlife plants will be showcased while tour participants are entertained by a blizzard of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Tours of Private HUMMINGBIRD Gardens — 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, August 17: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville”

Saturday, August 18: SOUTH “Cape Island”

Sunday, August 19: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande”

(3) Hum GDN 1.jpg

At the peak of Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration, we’ll savor an array of diverse gardens that have hosted nesting hummingbirds since May and are now drawing in dozens of migrants. Native nectar plants, healthy insect populations, water sources, and adequate cover are key elements of each garden.

Tours of Private MONARCH (butterfly) Gardens — 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 14: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande”

Saturday, Sept. 15: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville”

Sunday, Sept. 16: SOUTH “Cape Island”

(4) Monarch w-sig 2.jpgAt the peak of Cape May County’s world-famous fall Monarch migration, tour diverse gardens that have hosted Monarchs since May. Each features native nectar plants and as many as five different kinds of milkweed (used by Monarchs for egg laying to create the next generation). Expect clouds of Monarchs and other butterflies, Monarch eggs, caterpillars, and maybe even a chrysalis. The complex Monarch migration will be both explained and enjoyed.

TOUR DETAILS AND PRICING

Gardening naturalist and author, Pat Sutton, leads these tours, which include her own garden in Goshen (North tour). Bring lunch since the group will eat in one of the gardens.

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

Limit: 25 per tour. Nine Tours / Cost per tour: $30 members (NJ Audubon), $40 nonmembers.

(Join three tours at a discounted rate of $75 members, $100 nonmembers.)

These tours require preregistration with payment.

You may register by phone at 609.898.8848 with a credit card or send payment to the Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (noting which tours and full names of registrants).

NCCM reserves the right to cancel programs, and refunds are available only if NCCM cancels the event. Walk-ins are welcome on a space-available basis. Become a member of NJAS and receive discounts in the gift shop and on many programs.

Red Cedar vs Leyland Cypress

001 - CedarWaxwing eating RedCedar berries-11-18-08(03)In southern New Jersey my favorite evergreen is Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana, for about a zillion reasons.   I’ve watched 32 different species of birds feed on the fruits, including big flocks of Cedar Waxwings (so named because they favor Red Cedar fruits).

Learn why Red Cedar is a far better evergreen to plant than Leyland Cypress by reading my latest column on the Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens website (where over 30 of us contribute educational and informative columns to guide and encourage wildlife gardeners, so they don’t make the same mistakes we did).

Hummingbird Garden Tours

Ruby-thHumm on ornament-w-sigHi Gang,

Hummingbird activity has exploded in our garden. Young are off the nest & flying about. Birds from the north are on the move south through our area. Females are busy with their 2nd (or maybe even 3rd) nest. Territorial males are busy, busy, busy as they dash about chasing several hummingbirds away from each of the five feeders we’ve hung and their favorite flowers. It’s quite a show. Makes your head spin.

Ruby-th Humm on Cardinal Flower by Pat Sutton
Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Cardinal Flower

With the heat this summer we’ve been cleaning out the feeders and refilling every few days with fresh solution. In our garden they’re also feeding on Cardinal Flower (which is in full bloom), many different salvias (Black and Blue, Blue Ensign, Texas Sage, Salvia Indigo Spires, Belize Sage, and others), Cannas, the 2nd bloom of Bee Balm, Cuphea David verity, Orange Cuphea, Mexican Sunflowers, Trumpet Creeper, and some still-blooming Coral Honeysuckle. Insects are plentiful in the garden and an abundance of fruit flies over my dish of gooey fruit for the butterflies also attracts the hummingbirds and keeps their diet rich in protein.

Can’t wait to share it all with you during the next set of “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens,” August 12, 13, & 14 — this time focusing on “Hummingbird Gardens.” My garden will be on the August 12 (Friday) “North: Goshen to Dennisville” tour.

Tours of Private HUMMINGBIRD Gardens

Friday, August 12: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville”

Saturday, August 13: SOUTH “Cape Island”

Sunday, August 14: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande”

10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

At the peak of Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration, we’ll savor an array of diverse gardens that have hosted nesting hummingbirds since May and are now drawing in dozens of migrants. Native nectar plants, healthy insect populations, water sources, and adequate cover are key elements of each garden.

TOUR DETAILS AND PRICING

Limit: 25 per tour. Nine Tours in 2011 / Cost per tour: $30 members (NJ Audubon), $40 nonmembers.  (Join three tours at a discounted rate of $75 members, $100 nonmembers.)  These tours require preregistration with payment.  You may register by phone at 609.898.8848 with a credit card or send payment to the Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (noting which tours and full names of registrants).

This is the 20th year I’ve been leading these tours of private backyard wildlife gardens. Yowee! In September (23, 24, & 25) we’ll be focusing on Monarch Butterfly Gardens!

Ruby-thHummingbird-at SalviaIndigoSpires-SuttonGDN-8-3-10(001)-w-sig
Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Salvia Indigo Spires

These wildlife-friendly gardens offer so many ideas in the way of design, use of space, plant combinations, native plants that are lovely AND beneficial to wildlife, “chocolate cake” nectar plants, key caterpillar plants, great shrub ideas, “how to” create your own meadow ideas, garden accents and features like misters, dragonfly ponds, arbors . . .

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.

Hope to see some of you there !

2011 Wildlife Garden TOURS

sm-Pat in the GDN-5-16-10(001)Hi Gardening Friends,

Our spring garden was a show stopper with clouds of blooming Wild Columbine, Coral Bells, and Coral Honeysuckle and of course Ruby-throated Hummingbirds galore.

Now it’s bursting at the seams as all the other perennials fill out and bump into each other. Common Milkweed and Butterflyweed are in full bloom and pulling in many butterflies. And many, many other perennials are about to pop . . . just in time for this year’s “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens.”

This is the 20th year I’ve been leading these tours of private backyard wildlife gardens. Yowee!

Be sure to mark your calendars with the following dates & plan to join me on one, several, or all NINE of the 2011 “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens” that I will again be leading for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May.

Alert your friends, family, neighbors, … anyone you’re trying to HOOK on wildlife gardening!

These wildlife-friendly gardens offer so many ideas in the way of design, use of space, plant combinations, native plants that are lovely AND beneficial to wildlife, “chocolate cake” nectar plants, key caterpillar plants, great shrub ideas, “how to” create your own meadow ideas, garden accents and features like misters, dragonfly ponds, arbors . . .

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.

Enjoy a SNEAK PEAK (South Tour, North Tour, Mid-County Tour) into some of the gardens we’ll be visiting as I include photos of different gardens over the course of the summer.

“Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens”

with NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May

1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, NJ 08204

(609)898-8848

 

Tours of Private BUTTERFLY Gardens — 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, July 8: SOUTH “Cape Island”

Saturday, July 9: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande”

Sunday, July 10: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville”

Tiger Swallowtail on MonardaMore butterfly and hummingbird gardens are tucked into Cape May County than probably anywhere else in the country. Mid-July is the time of peak butterfly diversity and numbers. Gardens look completely different from one month to the next (so seriously consider all 9 tours). Learn the magic combination of native nectar plants and caterpillar plants that makes a garden especially attractive to butterflies. Design ideas and new wildlife plants will be showcased while tour participants are entertained by a blizzard of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Tours of Private HUMMINGBIRD Gardens — 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, August 12: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville”

Saturday, August 13: SOUTH “Cape Island”

Sunday, August 14: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande”

Hummingbird Moth-PhloxAt the peak of Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration, we’ll savor an array of diverse gardens that have hosted nesting hummingbirds since May and are now drawing in dozens of migrants. Native nectar plants, healthy insect populations, water sources, and adequate cover are key elements of each garden.

Tours of Private MONARCH (butterfly) Gardens — 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 23: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande”

Saturday, Sept. 24: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville”

Sunday, Sept. 25: SOUTH “Cape Island”

Monarch on Common Milkweed in Sutton's Monarch Waystation-byPatSuttonAt the peak of Cape May County’s world-famous fall Monarch migration, tour diverse gardens that have hosted Monarchs since May. Each features native nectar plants and as many as five different kinds of milkweed (used by Monarchs for egg laying to create the next generation). Expect clouds of Monarchs and other butterflies, Monarch eggs, caterpillars, and maybe even a chrysalis. The complex Monarch migration will be both explained and enjoyed.

TOUR DETAILS AND PRICING

Gardening naturalist and author, Pat Sutton, leads these tours, which include her own garden in Goshen (North tour). Bring lunch since the group will eat in one of the gardens.

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

Limit: 25 per tour. Nine Tours / Cost per tour: $30 members (NJ Audubon), $40 nonmembers.

(Join three tours at a discounted rate of $75 members, $100 nonmembers.)

These tours require preregistration with payment.

You may register by phone at 609.898.8848 with a credit card or send payment to the Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (noting which tours and full names of registrants).

NCCM reserves the right to cancel programs, and refunds are available only if NCCM cancels the event. Walk-ins are welcome on a space-available basis. Become a member of NJAS and receive discounts in the gift shop and on many programs.

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