Summer is nearly here and with it comes a parade of blooms and colors that light up backyards across the country. With the arrival of flowers comes flocks of numerous visitors of the winged variety. There is nothing more graceful than the flight of hummingbirds and butterflies in search of nectar. Bird enthusiasts go for the binoculars and identification books as multitudes of species congregate in search of precious seeds and berries.
Garden gurus and beginners alike can attract species into their yards with the right flower, bush, or tree. Here’s some simple things to remember if you’re wanting wildlife to think of your yard as a second home:
● Use native plants if possible.
● Try for as much variety to attract different species.
● Create plant beds that flower or produce fruits at different times in the growing season.
● Plant in clusters.
● Downsize your lawn space with wildlife attractant plants
● Apply the proper maintenance (i.e. fertilizing, watering) for your plants.
● Avoid spraying pesticides (even organic) in times of high wildlife traffic.
There are a metropolis of plants that can attract winged beauties. The best thing for you to consider is the size of your yard and your wallet. Most wildflowers attract wildlife. But, for some extra pizzazz, consider getting a mix of trees and shrubs for the ultimate “wildlife preserve”. Below are surefire shrubs and trees to turn your lawn into a mini Garden of Eden.
The Royal Butterfly Bush
Also known as the Buddleia Shrub, this regal deciduous bush attracts more butterflies and hummingbirds than any other plant. The fragrant blooms and variety of colors makes it a great addition to a hedgerow, a background for a flower bed, or a standalone feature. This plant is in such demand that expert growers across the world go to shrub’s native Himalayas in a constant quest for new varieties. The only thing you need to search for is what color variety works best for you.
The Black Knight Butterfly Bush: The most fragrant of the Buddleias. Purple blooms measure up to twelve inches long. Its low maintenance requirements–no pest or disease problems, simple pruning–make it a favorite for the fledgling gardener.
Pink Delight Butterfly Bush: This is the only Buddleia that produces pink flowers. Perfect for cut flower arrangements, this beauty is also easy to care for.
White Profusion Butterfly Bush: This Buddleia blooms from spring well into fall. Its enticing sweet honey scent will capture your nose and your winged friends. Its tall stature (8 feet high) makes it a prime candidate for a unique hedge wall. And, like its brethren, it’s virtually maintenance free.
The Burning Bush maintains glossy green leaves in the spring before turning fiery red in the late summer and fall. Its main fans are birds which love the bush’s berries. It’s popular for hedgerows and is both cold hardy and drought tolerant.
The Magnolia Tree has long been associated with the South, and its graceful flowers and sublime scents decorate numerous yards as a standalone feature. Plus, winged wildlife considers the magnolia as food heaven. Bees and hummingbirds seek out flowers for its mounds of sweet nectar. In the fall, the flowers make way for berries that draw birds of every shape and color to fill their bellies.
Some favorite magnolia varieties of gardeners and wildlife:
Little Gem Magnolia: A dwarf version that produces saucer-shaped white flowers. This evergreen is perfect for hedgerows.
Southern Magnolia: Of all magnolias, the Southern is the reigning king tree of the southeast region. This evergreen variety can reach up to 80 feet, and its stature is only outdone by its creamy white flowers and purple centers.
Jane Magnolia: This unique magnolia blooms late in the spring, an anomaly amongst other magnolias. It’s pink and white flowers beckon all forms of wildlife. Its short size (15 feet high max) and pruning friendliness makes it the perfect privacy hedge.
Another longtime symbol of the south. It’s proliferation of blooms in mid-late spring has lit up backyards since the 18th century. Its propensity for little care–pest and disease resistant, little or no pruning–makes it a favorite of flowering tree fanatics. Nectar seekers like the magnificent azure butterfly dance around the dogwood in the spring. Summer and fall give way to bounties of berries for the birds.
White Dogwood Tree: This dogwood is considered by some as the most elegant flowering tree in all of North America. Its 20-30 foot height makes it perfect for almost any landscaping whim. Its silvery bark and fiery red foliage in the fall will warm the hearts of humans and wildlife alike.
Red Dogwood Tree: This is a great alternative for those who want to have a showy dogwood beyond the traditional white flowers. The crimson blooms nestle nicely in the green foliage. Late summer and fall give way to burgundy and bronze leaves. Watch out for roving flocks of wild birds that eat the berries bare.