What’s Bugging Your Jersey-Friendly Yard? (2021 Webinar Series)

Hi Gang,

There is so much to learn about beneficial insects. Many individuals get excited to plant native milkweeds to benefit Monarchs, then panic when Milkweed Bugs and Milkweed Beetles appear that also need Milkweed. Here is a great opportunity to add to your understanding and education — learn about beneficial insects drawn to our wildlife gardens and in need of our help.

Jersey-Friendly Yards has a terrific Line up of speakers and topics as part of their 2021 Webinar Series: “What’s Bugging Your Jersey-Friendly Yard?” Bug experts will teach how to recognize beneficials versus pests, show how to manage pests safely using non-toxic methods, introduce attendees to the buggy relationship between plants and insects, and teach how to build a buggy web of life in your yard using native plants. I am honored to be one of the speakers along with Heather Holm, Kelly Gill, Dr. Dan Duran, and others.

The 2021 Webinars will be free and provided via WebEx Events. They will be held on the second Tuesday of the month from January to June at 7:00 pm.   The first one is coming up on January 12, 2020.  The live sessions will be an hour long with time for questions. To join the webinars, you will need either a computer, tablet, or smartphone with speakers. You must register to attend these webinars. After each webinar and with presenter permission, Jersey-Friendly Yards will add a link to a video recording of the webinar on their “What’s Bugging Your Jersey-Friendly Yard?” website.

For full details and to register go to the Jersey-Friendly Yards 2021 Webinar Series: “What’s Bugging Your Jersey-Friendly Yard?” Website HERE

(While you are on the Jersey-Friendly Yards Website, be sure to explore all the wonderful resources to help you create a healthy, native, wildlife-friendly landscape)

Here are the 2021 Webinar dates, topics, and presenters:

January 12, 2021 — Getting to Know the Good Guys: Beneficial Insects in the Landscape — Not all bugs are bad, so let’s meet the beneficial insects in your backyard. Predators, parasites, and pollinators—learn about how to recognize these good guys, their biology, and how to keep them happy in your yard. Presenter: Sabrina Tirpak, Principal Laboratory Technician, Rutgers University Plant Diagnostic Laboratory.

February 9, 2021 — Myth Busters: The Truth About What’s Bugging You — Insects are the most diverse group of animals on Earth. With over 1 million described species, insects account for about 75% of all animal species. Insect diversity is essential in maintaining functional ecosystems, productive natural areas and working lands, and overall biodiversity. However, human perceptions of insects are often negative resulting in insects being misunderstood, underappreciated, and in some cases, unnecessarily feared. This session will cover a variety of “insect myths vs. truths” with the goal of reversing common misconceptions. Presenter: Kelly Gill, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Partner Biologist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mid-Atlantic / Northeast Region.

March 9, 2021 — Cultivating Respect for Insects: An Overview of the Ecosystem Services That Insects Provide — Simply put: all life on earth depends on insects, for more reasons than most people realize. This talk will explore some of the immeasurably important ways that insects keep ecosystems functioning, including nutrient recycling, pollination services, and trophic interactions. It will also cover ways in which we can conserve much-needed insect diversity in our own yards. Presenter: Dr. Dan Duran, Assistant Professor, Rowan University Department of Environmental Science.

April 13, 2021 — What Lurks Above and Below: Spotted Lanternfly and Crazy Worms — The invasion has begun! Two non-native species: spotted lanternfly and Asian crazy-worms have already made it into New Jersey’s agriculture, yards, gardens, and forests. Learn the tools to how you can fight back, including their identification, biology, impacts, research, and control measures. The talk will also include how non-native pests have a serious negative impact on ecosystems and their health. Presenter: Paul Kurtz, Entomologist, NJ Department of Agriculture

May 11, 2021 — Attracting Bees and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants — Most insects have a positive impact in our landscapes. Native plants can be selected to attract specific bees and beneficial insects including predatory and parasitic wasps, beetles, flies, true bugs, and lacewings. Learn about the predator-prey relationships of these flower-visiting beneficial insects and how they help keep problem insect populations in balance. The life cycles, diversity, and nesting habitat of native bees will also be discussed along with examples of native plants for different site conditions. Presenter: Heather Holms, Author of the books Native Plants for Pollinators and Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide.

June 8, 2021 — Ferocious Dragons and Dainty Damsels — This primer to the winged jewels known as dragonflies and damselflies will cover the most common species, their natural history (life cycle, seasonality, what they prey on, and who preys on them), and how to identify one from another. Sutton, a long-time successful wildlife gardener, will share how to lure these ferocious mosquito predators into your own yard by creating a no-fuss wildlife pond. Presenter: Pat Sutton, Educator, Naturalist, Author

I know I’ll be virtually attending every single Webinar. “See” you there?

Happy Wildlife Gardening,

Pat

Canna – fall care & winter storage

Ruby-throated Hummingbird nectaring on Canna in Pat Sutton’s garden

In late June 2020, I gave away 60 or so Canna tubers.  Garden Gang members were greedy for them, so I kept thinning my patch (day after day) so I had more to give away.  For those of you who benefitted from my free plants , I’d like to share a late fall garden task (where winters can be harsh) that you might not be aware of.

Those of you with Cannas will want to dig their tubers up, if you haven’t already, before it gets too cold to perform this task.  I normally dig mine up  sometime in November for the winter.  This year I was very late and did not get to it until Christmas Eve.  If you haven’t done so yet, use one of the warm winter days we’re still experiencing, to get this task done.

You could leave your Canna tubers in the ground, but they may ROT over the winter, so it is a lottery (you may lose them all).  Some of the ones I’ve left in the ground make it through the winter (especially if growing in a south-facing garden), but most rot.   If you dig them up and store them properly over the winter, you’ll have viable tubers to plant next spring plus many extras to give away to family, friends, co-workers, neighbors.

Canna tubers multiply!   If you planted 3 Canna tubers, don’t be surprised if they’ve multiplied into 30 or more Canna tubers.  For about 5 years I dug up all my Canna tubers each fall.  This was very labor intensive, but it enabled me to give 100s  away each spring (the extras after I’d planted what I wanted).

Tubers dug up from only 10 plants (December 5)

If the task of digging them all up is just too much for you , dig up the tubers from just a few of your plants so you’re sure to have enough to plant next spring if your original tubers rotted over the winter.  That’s what I’ve been doing in recent years, only digging up enough for my own garden needs.   My back is much happier with this decision.

HOW TO WINTER OVER YOUR CANNA TUBERS

I dig my Canna tubers up in late November or some years later (before the ground freezes).  My step-by-step process follows:

This is what Cannas look like after the first frost, browned and limp, no longer green
  • I cut the stems off at the ground to make the task of digging the tubers up more manageable

  • I scrape away any mulch to expose all the tubers
By fall, one small tuber planted in spring has multiplied into a sprawling array of tubers
  • With a shovel or pitch fork I dig down under the tubers (placing my shovel well outside the exposed tubers and cut off stalks).  I  loosen the tubers and pry the enormous mass  out of the ground

  • You can break big ones apart into smaller and more manageable tubers
  • Tap the dirt off the Canna tubers
  • Place a large plastic bag in a shallow tray or a crate
  • Put a layer of dry leaves, shredded newspaper, or dry pine needles in the bottom of the bag (to act as insulation against freezing)
  • Lay the Canna tubers  on top of the dry leaves, shredded newspaper, or pine needles . . . layer by layer
  • Cover the top layer of Canna tubers with more dry leaves, shredded newspaper, or pine needles (to protect them from a brutal cold winter).  Tuck more of the insulating material (leaves, pine needles) down around the edges.
  • Pull the bag shut
  • We put our Canna tubers in the crawl space under our house because we don’t have a garage or basement.  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 tubers in a garage as well.
We’ve recycled a friend’s grape tray (that he gave us after wine making) and use it to contain our bag of tubers nestled in pine needles. It is shallow so we can easily slide it into our crawl space under the house

PLANTING CANNAS IN SPRING

  • Once the ground is warm, plant single canna tubers 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 “hide and seek” spot for kids to play in).
  • Don’t plant your canna tubers 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 tuber, and cover it with soil.
  • One tuber will grow into several tubers (sometimes numerous tubers) and send up a number of stalks that will bloom all summer and right through late fall until the first frost, drawing in constant nectaring hummingbirds. 

Happy Gardening,

Pat

2020 VIRTUAL Tours of Pat Sutton’s Private Wildlife Garden

2020 VIRTUAL Tours of Pat Sutton’s Private Wildlife Garden (43 Years in the Making)

Our wildlife garden has evolved over the last 43 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 was the 4th year I led tours of my wildlife garden for CU Maurice River, a non-profit organization doing great work in South Jersey.  With Covid-19, the 2020 Tour was filmed on July 2nd and folks could join the tour VIRTUALLY on Tues., July 14, 2020.

If you missed this garden tour, there is a 2nd opportunity to join me for this Virtual Tour.  It will be one of many fun offerings as part of the 2020 Wheaton Arts Virtual ECO WEEK.  Details follow:

2020 Wheaton Arts Virtual ECO WEEK
includes

WHAT
VIRTUAL GARDEN TOUR
of Pat Sutton’s Private Wildlife Garden
40+ Years in the Making

WHEN
Friday, August 21, 2020
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

WHERE
From the comfort of your home

Registration for this event is FREE!   But you need to click on the Registration Link HERE.  This Virtual Tour (a narrated video tour) will be followed by a Live Q & A session and is sponsored by CU Maurice River.

After you register, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining this selected Zoom webinar. Participants may join and rejoin the webinar at any time during the scheduled presentation.

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About the VIRTUAL Tour of Pat Sutton’s Private Wildlife Garden in Goshen, NJ (Cape May Co.), largely a NATIVE PLANT OASIS (filmed on July 2, 2020)

I’ll bet many of us have gardened more than normal this year, the year of Covid-19. Our wildlife garden and working in it has kept me sane during these uncertain times. I must give some credit for my sanity too to all the garden visitors I’ve discovered, learned about, and enjoyed this year. There have been so many fun sightings perhaps because we’ve been home a lot, out in the garden more, and savoring more. I hope this has been the case for you too.

I enjoyed sharing my garden with CU Maurice River on July 14th and am looking forward to sharing it again during the Wheaton Arts ECO WEEK.  If you should join me and see the footage, keep in mind it hasn’t always looked like it does now. Like each and every one of us, I have made some serious mistakes over the years and paid dearly for them. I love sharing my garden, not only because it is packed with Nature Happenings, but also because in doing so, I might help save others some of the angst and frustration I went through. I love sharing my garden also because I have learned so much about wildlife gardening and how wildlife responds to habitat. Truly, create it and they will come!

We see so much in our little 1/2 acre for many reasons. We barely have any grass left to mow. There are robust native perennials and understory trees and shrubs under all of our trees, not lawn. Rather than fight their thugishness, I am thrilled when shade-loving perennials I’ve planted like Common Blue Wood Aster seed further and further out into the lawn each year. More native plants and less lawn equals more habitat. One section of what had been lawn is an itty bitty meadow instead (12 feet x 12 feet). The meadow of native grasses and perennials compliments the formal perennial garden and hosts nectaring and egg-laying butterflies and other pollinators, nesting Box Turtles, and more! Our woods take up about one-third of our property and are filled with native trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, grasses, a sizable brush pile and many smaller brush piles, a butterfly house (made of overlapping branches with roofing shingles in between to keep weather out), and a seating area that is always cooler than the garden and overlooks a busy Hummingbird feeder (Meghan got footage of a hungry female during our virtual tour from this seating area). Many of the butterflies that nectar in our garden lay their eggs on native trees, shrubs, grasses, and vines in our woods. The woods were an impenetrable wall of Multiflora Rose until 2009 when we reclaimed them, so many of the native trees and shrubs are eleven years old. In ridding the woods of invasives the seed bank of natives had a chance. The transformation has been complete, but does take routine vigilance because the very birds we attract are eating invasives elsewhere and sprinkling seeds of those invasives in our woods and elsewhere on our property.

So, join me if you can for this 2nd airing of a 2020 Virtual Tour of my Private Wildlife Garden. CUMR’s Meghan Thompson did the filming.  I’ll be narrating the garden tour, which will include some of my favorite garden still shots from this spring and past magic moments. This virtual presentation will showcase many of the pollinators and sights from this season.

You may also want to download and print the latest update of my “Gardening for Pollinators” Handout (CLICK HERE), which includes lots of sage advice, Chocolate Cake nectar plants month-by-month, and sources of helpful signage.  It will prove very helpful during the Virtual Tour and afterwards!

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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)

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).

Garden Rant features “Tour of Private Cape May Monarch Gardens”

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Mildred Morgan sharing her cherished oasis!

Hi Gang,

I thought you would enjoy Susan Harris’ Garden Rant post, written after she attended the September 21, 2014 “South Tour of Monarch Gardens,” featuring private backyard and front yard gardens in Cape May, Lower Township, and Cape May Point:

When Wildlife Gardens Look Like Gardens
by Susan Harris
Garden Rant

As you can tell from the title, she was quite complimentary. Bravo wildlife gardeners and thank you SO MUCH for letting me share your gardens with tour participants! Keep enjoying your oases and the many wildlife visitors they attract and have fun inspiring others to do the same. If you know anyone who is ripe to be hooked on wildlife gardening, be sure they are aware of the upcoming workshops I’l be teaching: “2015 Gardening for Wildlife Workshop Series.”

Happy Gardening,
Pat

Monarch Garden Tours: Sept. 19, 20, & 21

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Monarch caterpillar on Common Milkweed in Pat Sutton’s garden August 25, 2014

At 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 Monarchs and other butterflies, Monarch eggs, caterpillars, and maybe even a chrysalis. The complex Monarch migration will be both explained and enjoyed.

I’ve worked with 18 garden owners to line up this set of Garden Tours.  Don’t miss this opportunity to see a fine selection of wildlife gardens with lovely stands of MILKWEED: Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, Whorled Milkweed, Purple Milkweed, and Tropical Milkweed. The annual, Tropical Milkweed, will be in bloom.  Most of our native perennial milkweeds have already bloomed, but their robust leaves still pull in mating and egg-laying Monarchs well into the fall, as our local Monarchs create yet another generation. These gardens are coming into their fall attire, which will be as stunning as the summer garden, yet completely different.

2014 TOURS OF PRIVATE MONARCH GARDENS

10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 19 — Mid-County Tour, including amazing gardens along the Delaware Bayshore in North Cape May and Villas
Saturday, Sept. 20 — North Tour, including Pat Sutton’s garden and other gems from Cape May Court House north to South Seaville
Sunday, Sept. 21 — South Tour, including gardens south of the Cape May Canal

Expect these gardens to also be hosting lingering hummingbirds, butterflies, caterpillars, stunning native plants, and undoubtedly some surprises. Fall migration will be underway, so anything’s possible.

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.
Limit: 25 per tour.
Three Tours / Cost per tour: $35 members (NJ Audubon), $45 nonmembers.
(Join three tours at a discounted rate of $90 members, $115 nonmembers.)
These tours require preregistration with payment.

Registration: 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, addresses, and phone numbers 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.

 

Saw my FIRST Ruby-throated Hummingbird on April 12, 2014 !

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Yesterday, Saturday, April 12, was a good day! Hope you got out to enjoy it too. Clay and I went to Cape May Point to join Tom Reed in his SPRING WATCH.

The highlight for me was when Tom called out: ” HUMMINGBIRD ! ! ! “

At 8:55 a.m. Tom spotted a Ruby-throated Hummingbird migrating north across Delaware Bay, heading for the tip of the Cape May Peninsula. It was at the top of a cloud bank, higher than I would have expected. I was scanning like mad low over the choppy waves of Delaware Bay.

According to Hummingbirds.net the first NJ sighting was on Friday, April 11. I hung 3 feeders (with only about 2 ounces in each) earlier in the week, seeing that they were already as far north as across the Delaware Bay.

We haven’t seen one in our yard   Y E T, but expect a feisty male to find our feeders and settle in by the end of this coming week or next. Our gardens are not much yet, so feeders are crucial if you hope to entice hummingbirds to settle in. Then be sure to have a jam packed garden and habitat full of native plants that bloom from early spring through fall. Too, maintain those feeders so they offer something as fresh as nectar . . . hence why you don’t fill them to the brim (since you’ll be dumping the solution at least once a week, cleaning, and partially filling with fresh solution). Oh, and NO RED DYE! It’s cancer causing, so DUH . . . who wants to do that to hummingbirds?

WANT TO LEARN MORE ?

Join me for the following fun and informative program that I will be teaching for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May,1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204; 609-898-8848.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS 101
All About Them and How to Attract Them
(with Pat Sutton)
Saturday, April 19, 2014
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Learn where Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have they been all winter. Will more than one settle into your backyard garden? Where is the nest? What does the female use to build her tiny nest? Is bottled nectar (or red dye) needed for a feeder? What are the two reasons hummingbirds like spiders? 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 long-time wildlife gardener. Sutton will show off an actual hummingbird nest and 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” and “Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths.”
Limit: 20 participants. Preregistration is required (through NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204; 609-898-8848)
Cost: members $15, nonmembers $20
(includes handouts and FREE Tropical Salvia seeds)

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To get you jazzed, you might want to read several of my hummingbird posts from Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens:

Gardening for Wildlife Workshops, March 2013

(1)meadow w-sigHi Gang,

Happy New Year! I am excited to share the dates (below) for my popular series of 5 property-owner, “Gardening for Wildlife” workshops (pdf). They’ll be held in March 2013, the perfect time to shake off winter and begin planning and planting (or enhancing) your property and wildlife garden.

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 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.

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 attend all 5, if possible, 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 to project for this)
  • 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 where wildlife-friendly practices and design and plant selections will be showcased

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

edit-Pat in the garden-7-31-12 (001)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. Bring a wish list of the elements you want to add as well as the elements you need to work around.

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GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE WORKSHOPS with Pat Sutton (pdf)

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

  1. Saturday, March 2, 2013 – How to Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife
  2. Sunday, March 3, 2013 – How to Create a Pollinator Garden (for Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Moths, Bees, & More)
  3. Saturday, March 9, 2013 – How to Create a Wildflower Meadow & Wildlife Pond
  4. Saturday, March 16, 2013 – Battlestar Backyardia – Battling the Alien Invaders (How to Recognize and Deal With Invasive Species)
  5. Saturday, March 23, 2013 – Landscape Design With Wildlife In Mind

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 pm.

Where: The March 2, 3, 9, & 16 workshops will be held at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research & Education, 600 Rt. 47 N, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210 (and include a site visit to Sutton’s nearby wildlife gardens).  The March 23 workshop will be held at the Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, NJ 08204 (and include a site visit to a Cape May wildlife garden).

Limit: 20 participants; preregistration is required (through NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204; 609-898-8848).

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.

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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.