140 Middletown – Lincroft Road, Lincroft, New Jersey 07738 Hours: Monday-Tuesday 8-5, Wednesday 8-6, Thursday-Saturday 8-5, Sunday 9-4

                                                                  

Why I Garden: To Attract and Care for Wildlife

While there is nothing wrong with having a neatly manicured yard with trimmed up landscaping, some people prefer to have a more natural look. The main reason for this is so they can attract wildlife. Birds, squirrels, and butterflies are all more likely to visit places where there is a certain array of foliage, nuts, and seeds for them to eat and a source of water for them to drink and bathe in. This might sound contradictory to those who spend more time trying to keep animals out of their gardens. True nature lovers don't seem to mind a few missing leaves and flowers. They know that it is all worth it just to get a glimpse of the little creatures that pass through for a treat. Several of the plants that attract the most squirrels, birds, and butterflies include:

Milk Thistle

This thorny plant is hard to get rid of once it is established in a field. But a lot of the local wildlife depends on it. Its flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies to feed on. And when it develops seeds, they get ravished by hungry birds. One bird who loves milk thistle seed the most is the chickadee. It is also a favorite of goldfinches and pine siskins.

Butterfly Bushes

One of the best times of the season to spot butterflies is during their migration South for the winter. Hundreds of them fly in groups that are stunning to see. Their trip is exhausting, so they often stop for rest and food along the way. That is why many gardeners hoping to see them plant groups of butterfly bushes for them to feed on. These bushes look lovely next to lantanas that butterflies also like.

Pecan Trees

A good way to attract some squirrels in the yard is with a tree that produces nuts for them to eat and store away for the winter. One of their favorites is the pecan tree. It has lots of nooks and crannies for them to hide in, and they can climb it to get away from predators. The leaves of the tree also provide some much needed shade to get them out of the sun on a hot day.

Sunflowers

Squirrels, birds, and butterflies all love sunflowers because they provide so much nutrition. When in full bloom, they offer tons of nectar. And at the end of the season, when they dry up, the flowers bend over with heavy seeds to eat. That is why a lot of nature lovers leave the flowers out in the yard past their regular growing season. They act as standing feeders for them all to find. And as an added bonus, sunflowers left out all winter long are also great places for bees and other beneficial types of insects to hibernate inside of.

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