Manage your wildlife habitat for the survival of the wildlife you’ve attracted. Mourning Cloaks need leaf litter, brush piles, and hollow trees for their survival. Learn more about these ethereal butterflies by reading my latest post on Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.
Black Cherry vs Bradford Pear
Black Cherry, Prunus serotina, is one of THE most important trees for wildlife. I’ve watched 53 different species of birds feed on the fruits, including Black-throated Blue Warblers.
Learn why Black Cherry is a far better tree to plant than Bradford Pear by reading my latest column on the Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens website (where over 20 of us contribute educational and informative columns to guide and encourage wildlife gardeners, so they don’t make the same mistakes we did).
One Woman’s Wild Life
The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Ginny Smith did a feature on my efforts over the years to teach about Gardening for Wildlife, titled “One Woman’s Wild Life” (November 11, 2011).
Have a fun read & pass it along to others you know who are keen on wildlife gardening, and some you may hope to hook on the joy of it.
T H E Y ‘ R E B A C K !
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:
April 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,
Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens in Cape May
The “Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens” are fast approaching: Friday (July 16), Saturday (July 17), and Sunday (July 18). My garden is on the “North Tour” on Sunday, but all the gardens are 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, including BUTTERFLIES and Hummingbird Moths!
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 & how to sign up for these July Tours or the August or September Tours are at the end of this post.
Just today a Monarch is sailing all around our garden laying eggs on the dozens of Milkweed plants, plus nectaring on Common Milkweed’s fragrant blossoms. Red Admirals have been abundant this year and the many eggs laid in mid-May on my Stinging Nettle have resulted in the next generation of Red Admirals just emerging now.
My ponds, now free of duckweed (which snuck in on a “gift plant”) after a labor-intensive “clean out the ponds” project, are busy places with lots of dragonflies laying eggs, and just today we spotted dozens of frog or toad tadpoles (in mid-June Gray Tree Frogs and Fowler’s Toads were both courting at our ponds).
Hummingbirds are zipping around and frequenting the 2nd bloom of Coral Honeysuckle, just-opening Cannas, salvias, and lots of other goodies & insects.
Be sure to mark your calendars with the dates below & plan to join me on one, several, or all of the 2010 “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens” that I will again be leading for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May.
Tours of Private BUTTERFLY Gardens
- Friday, July 16: SOUTH “Cape Island” – 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Saturday, July 17: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande” – 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Sunday, July 18: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville” – 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
More 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
- Friday, August 13: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Saturday, August 14: SOUTH “Cape Island” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Sunday, August 15: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
At the peak of Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration savor an array of diverse gardens that have hosted nesting hummingbirds since May. Learn the magic combination of native nectar plants, healthy insect populations, and adequate cover that makes a garden especially attractive to hummingbirds.
Tours of Private MONARCH Gardens
- Friday, Sept. 10: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Sept. 11: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 12: SOUTH “Cape Island” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Cape May County is world famous for its concentration of migrating Monarchs. At the peak of their fall migration savor an array of diverse gardens that have hosted Monarchs since May. Learn the magic combination of native nectar plants and caterpillar plants (five or more different kinds of milkweed) that makes a garden especially attractive to Monarchs and many other butterflies. Expect to see Monarch eggs, caterpillars, and maybe even a chrysalis.
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.
Before the tour download, print, & bring along (for ease of note taking) NJ Audubon’s article, “How to Create a Butterfly andHummingbird Garden,” and the “Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths,” by Patricia Sutton.
Limit: 25 per tour. Cost per tour: $30 members, $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 (noting which tours and full names of registrants) at the Nature Center of Cape May.
New Wildlife Gardening Workshops
Join me if you can for these fun and information-filled workshop! Or help by spreading the word & letting potential wildlife gardeners know of this series of 3 workshops in the “Gardening for Wildlife” series that will be offered through the Nature Center of Cape May.
Share with family, friends, & coworkers!!! The more the merrier. Plus, the more wildlife habitats around us, the more wildlife we’ll see, as we all know! So, by all means, pass this along to others!!!! November 7, 14, and December 5 — all Saturdays — 10 am to 3 pm
GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE WORKSHOPS with Pat Sutton
Saturday, November 7: “How to Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife”
Saturday, November 14: “How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden”
Saturday, December 5: “How to Create a Wildflower Meadow & Wildlife Pond”
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Join Pat Sutton for this series of three full-day, property-owner workshops on how to enhance your backyard landscaping for wildlife. The workshops will be held at NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May at 1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, NJ 08204; (609)898-8848;
Native plants and wildlife-friendly practices are the key. Come learn how to plan your own backyard, no matter how small, to attract showy hummingbirds, butterflies, nesting birds such a 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 winter, the perfect time to begin planning next year’s gardens, order plants and seeds, and dream of gardens to come. 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 the workshops, download, print, and bring NJ Audubon’s articles “How to Create a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden,” and the “Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths,” by workshop instructor Pat Sutton. Available at:
Limit: 30 participants; preregistration is required. To preregister and hold your space, send payment & which workshop(s) you wish to attend to the NCCM (1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204; (609) 898-8848.
Cost/workshop: $20 member of NJ Audubon Society, $30 nonmember (includes handouts).
Because the final workshop is so unique, I’ve shared some additional information about it below:
HOW TO CREATE A WILDFLOWER MEADOW & WILDLIFE POND with Pat Sutton Saturday, December 5 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Join Pat Sutton at the Nature Center of Cape May (1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ) for this property-owner workshop on how to enhance your backyard landscaping for wildlife by creating a wildflower meadow and a wildlife pond. Many areas have lost their meadows to subdivisions and corporate headquarters landscaped with acres and acres of sod lawn — a monoculture, a green desert 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 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 attractive to neighbors and visitors.
While you’re at it, consider adding a pond to your wildlife habitat. Frogs, toads, and dragonflies all need freshwater ponds for egg laying to create future generations. Even a tiny pond will attract them. Learn what a true wildlife pond is and how simple it is to create — NO fish, NO need for running water, filters, and all the fuss.
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 found your pond as if by magic. Watch butterflies and hummingbirds nectaring on Pickerelweed flowers in your pond. Create it and they will come!
This workshop will visit to a nearby backyard habitat and, during a working lunch, participants will have the opportunity to discuss their own property. Participation is limited to thirty; preregistration is highly recommended.
Cost: $20 member of NJ Audubon Society, $30 nonmember (includes handouts).
Call NCCM to register at 609-898-8848.