Habitat Landscapes

Last week at each of our stores, Nancy Payne gave a great talk about one of my favorite subjects (and obviously hers!) – creating habitat landscapes that support the songbirds, hummingbirds, bees and butterflies that we all love. If you attended I know this is redundant, but I wanted to share this with the many who could not make it.

What I liked most is Nancy’s list of her favorite native plants and trees Nancy’s List. To make it easy for you, she has grouped the nectar and host plants into spring, summer, fall, and winter bloomers. She has also included some berry producing shrubs and great groundcovers as well. Nancy also reminded us to remember to plant at least three of any host plant as the caterpillars will eat them quickly and you really want to have enough food for them!

As Nancy was teaching the morning class in Arlington she was showing participants one of our passion vine plants that was covered in gulf fritillary caterpillars. As she did so a butterfly descended and proceeded to lay an egg. Nature is so much fun!

The most important lesson of the day: Cut back your tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) at the end of September. According to Dale Clark, Dallas County Lepidopterist’s Society http://www.dallasbutterflies.com, the monarchs that are coming through your garden now are a combination of our resident monarchs and some filtering in pre-migration. They still need to feed. Those heading to Mexico to overwinter start arriving mid-October – these are the ones you do not want to encourage to stay.

P.S. Here is a link to the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden Certification Walk-through checklist so that your habitat landscape can be certified as a wildlife habitat – it is easier than you think!