Gardening with and for Wildlife part 3-Cover/Shelter
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” Psalm 91:1-2
Next on the list of requirements is cover/shelter.
This is obviously easier if you have a yard. But if you live in an apartment and have a balcony, you can put out some potted plants that will help attract birds and butterflies. You could even put a small potted shrub on your balcony/deck. What type of plant you use depends of course on where you live.
If you have a yard then planting something that is native to your area is always a good bet. Native plants are better adapted and usually require less maintenance! Ideally you will want a variety…some taller trees, some shorter, deciduous and evergreen, shrubs and some perennials and annuals. Try to plant things that will fruit at different times. Take a look around your yard and make a note of what you already have…you might be surprised! Keep in mind when choosing plants/trees/shrubs, what hardiness zone you’re living in and what zones the plants you like are hardy in. DO NOT assume that the store down the road will only sell things that are hardy in your area! Do some research before you buy. (Can you tell that I have regretfully made this mistake!)
You will also need to consider what type of soil you have and how strong the sunlight will be in a particular area. A great place for information locally would be your County Extension Office!
Some of my suggestions for cover trees/plants are:
Shrubs: blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, sumac, huckleberry, honeysuckle, chokecherry, currant
Trees: serviceberry, dogwood, sassafras, madrone (northwest), mountain ash, Hawthorne, holly, beech, hickory, oak, sugar maple, aspen, cottonwood, sycamore, bald cypress, pecan, fruit trees
Evergreens: white pine, red pine, cedar, hemlock, Douglas fir, blue spruce
Plants-annuals: sunflowers, cosmos, amaranthus, marigolds, zinnia
Plants-perennials: bee balm (monarda), coreopsis, butterfly flower, columbine, purple coneflower, blab-eyed susan, pinks (dianthus), scabiosa, ornamental grasses
These are just a few suggestions…there are plenty more! A lot of these also provide food!
Birds like to have a ‘cover’ shrub a short distance from their feeders and nesting area.