You’ve spent so much time and effort on your garden, West Coast Gardeners, and you finally get the chance to go out and relax in a comfy lawn chair with a cold beverage and...where are all the birds? And the butterflies? Not to mention bees!
A garden can be a lonely place without friendly wildlife buzzing and hopping around or making happy chirping noises. Inviting the right sort of creatures into your yard can be tricky, especially when it’s much easier to end up with the wrong crowd hanging out and munching on all your crops or invading your potted plants.
We’ve got a great bunch of ideas for you to use so that your garden parties are full of friendly bees, butterflies and birds!
Setting the right decor for your garden party...
Pinterest is full of party decorating ideas that make us all envious and get us excited about creating the perfect get together. When it comes to your yard you need the right sort of decor as well in order to get the wildlife garden guests you’re looking for. However, you can set aside that tassel garland and the chalkboard signs for now, we’re looking at a more natural approach.
No one wants to spend all afternoon in the blistering sun or in the pouring rain. That’s a sure way to kill a party. Your wildlife garden guests feel the same way. Creating shelter for the birds, bees and butterflies can go a long way in making a hospitable location for them to gather. Hang your bird feeders under cover, let trees hang over some of your garden patches, and place container planters under the eaves.
Having a “quiet little corner” or two isn’t a bad idea, for those less social guests who’d like to chat or cuddle quietly. In your garden you can plant dense hedges or bush areas for the birds to hide in. They feel a lot safer in your yard when they know there’s a hiding spot close at hand. If these bushes happen to have berries on them as well, that’s just a bonus. Hiding out near the buffet table is a tried-and-true practice!
Some of your garden friends like the hot sun, especially butterflies who tend to look for flat stones to lie on and bask themselves in the heat. Placing some attractive flat rocks around the garden in sunny areas will definitely get their attention. When it comes to bees there are lots of ways to attract these friendly visitors, and we’ve given you the low-down in our Guide to A Bee Friendly Garden
Creating an attractive punch bowl
Gathering around the punch bowl (alright, who spiked it this time?) is a natural phenomenon that happens at every gathering. There’s something about a brightly coloured bowl of delicious beverage that is very attractive. (Especially if you’re adding floating flowers, coloured ice cubes or perfectly sliced fruit - thanks pinterest.) Your wildlife in the garden feels the same way, so you need to provide a thirst quenching drinking station for them.
Bird baths placed around the garden provide a great place for a drink and to cool off with a splash. Bees and butterflies also need water, but they like shallower dishes that are half full of rocks so they have an island to sit on while they carefully drink. Keeping your water sources out of the hot sun can mean less refilling, as they won’t evaporate quite so quickly. Make sure that they are also located where the visitors can see all around for danger while hydrating.
It’s all about the food
As with any get together, it’s really all about the food. Finger sandwiches and fancy dips are great for a wedding, but at a BBQ you’ll likely need to break out the meat or have a riot on your hands. Creating the right feast for the birds isn’t as time consuming as feeding a flock of people, but it may require some experimenting.
To really get a variety of birds in your yard you need a variety of food. Black-oil sunflower and striped sunflower seeds attract chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches and sometimes jays. The black-oil sunflower seeds have a higher fat content, which is healthier for the birds and is much easier for them to crack open. However, squirrels also love these seeds, and if you didn't want to invite them to the party then use a squirrel safe feeder or try another type of seed. Nyjer seeds are great for the smaller birds, such as American goldfinches and sparrows. Nyjer seeds are great for the smaller birds, such as American goldfinches and sparrows.
If you are looking for bigger birds, try using peanuts (with shells) as well as suet in the cooler months. Jays and woodpeckers love these treats and will always come back for more. Don’t forget about hummingbird feeders, they love to be invited to the party (even if they’re on a bit of a liquid only diet)! If you have to pick just one kind of seed, try hulled sunflower seeds, as many different species of birds enjoy this food.
When you’re setting the table for your fancy dinner party you’re not going to place it near the compost bin or in the middle of the raspberry patch, right? Feeding the birds requires the same kind of consideration, making sure feeders are located under cover and away from potential dangers. Placing them so that the feeding birds can spot danger all around them will make them more likely to stay and eat rather than flit away after a quick bite.
When it comes to butterflies, they love the bright and colourful blooms! Pinterest may say pink and white is trendy for your garden party, but butterflies would prefer a wide spectrum of red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms. Plant your garden for continuous blooms, so that something is always flowering through the spring summer and even the fall. For a list of our favourite butterfly attracting plants, read this quick blog post.
Keeping out the party crashers
With the party in full swing, here come the uninvited guests! (How did they even find out about it?) They swing through the buffet table leaving mayhem in their wake, noisily invading the dance floor and creating way too much drama.
In your garden you want to keep out certain visitors to keep things calm and safe for your birds, bees and butterflies. If you have a cat or two (or perhaps your neighbour has a few?) then make sure your feeders and such are at a safe height. For a lot more ideas about keeping pests like deer, slugs and aphids out of your garden check out this handy blog post Keeping Your Garden Safe the Natural Way.
Now that you’re garden is attracting all kinds of wonderful wildlife you can add birdwatching and bee gazing to your summer to-do list. Enjoy the season and your garden!