WHAT CAN WE DO
in our own gardens to help sustain our local wildlife? Because by all accounts, and many of our own observations, populations of many songbirds, butterflies and bees are going in the wrong direction, way too fast. In “The California WIldlife Habitat Garden”, I write about ways to grow a habitat garden by starting first with a walk around your landscape. And this is a good time to take that walk and start thinking about what to change or plant in the fall. What are you providing right now? Vertical layers of cover? A water source? Food and nectar plants? Are there fences or trellises available for shrubs or vines that produce nectar for hummingbirds or fruit for birds? Are there plants that have little wildlife value that could be gradually replaced with native trees, shrubs or ground plants? A plant screen of berry-producing trees or shrubs would serve wildlife and might also give more privacy from neighbors or cars. Is there a place for a birdbath or wildlife pond? For drifts of seasonal nectar flowers? Which host plants for local butterflies could you add near the nectar flowers? Don’t forget to look at traffic patterns in the garden; improving the habitat value of areas where activity is lightest is a good place to start. When we decide to plant for wildlife, a new relationship with the land evolves. Instead of outdoor decoration, the garden becomes a web of life, a sanctuary, and a daily invitation to enjoy whatever shows up—and every single habitat garden is unique with its own unexpected surprises.