Gardening for Wildlife forum: Wildlife habitat

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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Jun 27, 2016 7:56 PM CST
This has likely been discussed before, but it bears repeating. How many folks are actively designing their yards/gardens/outlying areas with native habitat in mind? I am *trying* to choose native plants more often than eye-candy cultivars, not always successfully. It takes some educating to figure out what is native, and what might fit a spot. It's much easier to go with a cultivar 'pop' but I'm slowly finding that the natives do, in fact, do better and look more natural. I'm also adding in brush piles to my outlying areas, and trying to incorporate water features here and there.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Amanda
KC metro area, Missouri (Zone 6a)
Region: Missouri Cat Lover Dog Lover
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pepper23
Jun 27, 2016 8:04 PM CST
I'm doing the same as you. Trying to replace plants that die off with more native plants and trying to ignore the eye candy. I actually just bought some more native plants for this one bed. I've always had a hard time getting things to grow (including decorative trees) so am switching to natives in there.

I don't have any water features since we're surrounded by creeks and ponds but do have a water bowl for the animals and birds to drink from. Brush piles are in the woods in the front of the yard because our yard slopes to the creek and we were having issues with erosion even with all the trees there. The brush piles have helped with that plus given all the wildlife places to hide out.
Name: Ibis
Florida, Orlando-ish (Zone 9b)
Region: Florida Tropicals Bromeliad Orchids Container Gardener Foliage Fan
Dog Lover Birds
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IbisFla
Jun 28, 2016 8:30 AM CST
Same here. Florida has so many invasive plants, and they will crowd out the natives, which in turn reduces our native wildlife. The first thing I look at, is whether the plant I'm considering is on the state's Exotic Pest list. So many pretty ones are! If they're not, then I'll see if I can use it. Also, if I find any exotics volunteering in my yard, I'll pull them up.

Even though the natives tend to be understated, they are usually much easier to establish and maintain. Also, they're constantly introducing different cultivars of some of our natives and I'll mix in some of those sometimes. For example, Beautyberry (Callicarpa) is native to Florida, but I've seen some cultivars recently with variegated leaves, and even with purple leaves. It's not strictly native, but it's Florida wildlife friendly.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Jun 28, 2016 9:01 AM CST
I call the cultivated varieties 'near natives' and figure, for example, if the birds like my native Mahonia berries, they will likely eat Mahonia 'Charity' berries as well. And, I agree that it is wise to first check if a plant is invasive to your area. I'm also surprised when nurseries market invasive plants - just saw some English ivy at a nursery, which is a huge problem in the PNW. One would think any plant with a 'noxious' rating would be banned from being sold. Guess not.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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LindaTX8
Jun 28, 2016 11:46 AM CST

Moderator

Having done some volunteer work with a Master Naturalists of Texas chapter removing the most invasive species from the parks and natural area parks in the past, it really makes you realize how much harm is done by the invasive nonnative plants. To restore some native species that have gone away because of previous development or being crowded out by invasive nonnatives plants, it's very hard. They sometimes have to be cut down or (unfortunately) chemically treated repeatedly over years. Some nonnatives also don't support the native insects or wildlife, essential parts of the ecological web of life for our natural world. Have you ever read Douglas W. Tallamy's book Bringing Nature Home? I'm not an dogged advocate of regional native plants only, but it's really getting out of control! We must all do our part to preserve as much of the flora & fauna that evolved to work together in our local areas long ago. I really wish time travel were possible. I know Texas was much much different many hundreds of years ago. I bet it was absolutely amazing!
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
[Last edited by LindaTX8 - Jun 28, 2016 5:01 PM (+)]
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whereami
Jun 29, 2016 6:38 AM CST
Hurray! a thread about restoration! I live in VA. My property is the poster child for invasive species! You name it! Anything that will grow in zone 6 and is invasive has taken hold! We have stiltgrass, Asian bittersweet, trees of heaven, paulownias, some kind of Asian honeysuckle, Aralia elata and on and on. Funny thing is that I used to think, well, these things are growing and taking space but they're not used by native species (insects, birds, mammals) but then I noticed that they did indeed host some insects...guess which ones? Marmorated stink beetles (Asian imports), Asian lady beetles and non native (probably also Asian) praying mantids! Interesting, a home away from home!

On top of invasives, in my area, there is an out of control deer population. This causes some species to disappear altogether leaving hardier species. Paw paws are abundant! Paw paws are wonderful trees BUT if they establish large patches due to lack of competition taken out by marauding deer, nothing else will grow around or under them because mature patches of paw paws take all the light and are very fast growing. It really does change the ecology/landscape.

I wish there was a forum for this topic and for different regions because we all seem to have different situations. When I first moved here I immediately added a bunch of native plants in areas nothing was growing. None of the plants survived the deer. I have since then learned to use the huge stands of goldenrod (I was thinking of removing some of this early on), mountain mints and dogbane to hide anything I plant. I agree with Linda....wish I could see how these mountains were 100 yrs ago!
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Jun 29, 2016 10:43 AM CST
My two main invasives are Himalayan blackberry and Canary reedgrass. Per the conservation folk, the best way to battle the reedgrass is to plant native shrubs and wait for them to shade out the grass. Best defense I've found against the blackberries is to stake out a goat. Last year I saw my first invasive ring-neck dove and now I never hear our native mourning doves.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

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