I switched to cracked corn to lower the cost of birdfeed. Finches devour sunflower seeds. The house finches are cute, but paying for their dates, when they feed the female in their courting rituals, adds up. They scoop through the seed to find the best to offer.
The first bonus was seeing the Blue Jay show up at the window. He is still pretty shy, but his size and coloring are just as remarkable as the Cardinals', who now treat our yard as their clubhouse.
I stood at the backdoor and looked out to see the birdbath area. The sun was shining but a storm was on the way. Grackles, Blue Jays, Starlings, and other birds were in and out of the baths, preening, fussing for a position, and searching the ground for food.
The birds have verified their love for perches all over the yard. In the background I could see a Robin searching for food by hopping up on low perches.
Originally I wanted to have the rose garden filled with roses, but now I see the value of having many varieties of plants among the roses. The roses dominate, but they enjoy rest and food stops for beneficial insect plants nearby:
- Bee Balm
- Cat Mint
- Mountain Mint
- Wild Strawberries
|Fritillary Butterfly - Violet Gazette|
Now, why am I going on about butterflies in the Violet Gazette? It is because the violet is the food plant for Fritillary butterflies. The adult butterfly takes nectar from milkweed, coneflowers, thistles and many other things, but the eggs of Fritillaries are laid on violets and the larvae feed on the leaves.I am thinking of a mock campaign - Stop the Violets! If people do not listen or read carefully, they will donate to this important and life-saving cause. "Will you pledge a mere $50, $25, or only $10 a day to end this plague?"
I find this amusing because, in the course of reading about beneficials of all types, one writer said, "For goodness sake, protect your violets, because they alone host the young Fritillaries." I remembered that name from my mother's butterfly hunting days. "Hmm, I should see to that." One day I have leaf-mulch carpeting the Wild Garden. The next day I have swath of violets growing. "Invade away," I thought.
Do I have butterflies and all the important plants for them? Yes, I do, so we also have them flying around all summer. Like the pest-eating insects, the butterflies need plants for the adult stage but are very particular about the plants needs for the young. The deplorable plants are often the best for all kinds of beneficial insects, including the much admired but often neglected butterflies.
America's investment in lawns means that a vast host of fascinating birds and insects are locked out of yards by:
- Neatness - no place to overwinter, no place to raise the young.
- Monoculture - few creatures live on grass alone, especially when it is doused with chemical fertilizer, weed killer, and insecticides.
- Rototilling the soil, as if one machine in the garden will outperform the earthworms and fungi that were churned away by the sharp blades.
- Poor water infiltration, caused by one set of roots, especially when the fertilizing fresh grass is bagged and thrown away.