Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I've always vaguely meant to add more wildlife-friendly plants to the yard.  Who doesn't want butterflies and birds, after all?  But we've been much more focused on finding homes for our roses and more general landscaping priorities since moving in.  But now that the Grass-n-Roses bed is taking shape (grasses being generally rather WF by virtue of providing habitat, apparently),now that the pond is providing a copious water source for the thirsty, and now that the climate is in such a homicidal and faunicidal rage, now seems like the right time to get serious about lending our furry, feathered, froggy, and chitinous brethren a hand.

We installed our first two bird feeders around the pond this weekend, an activity that for some reason made me feel more than usually married. Somehow, it just seems so homey and pleasantly settled to have bird feeders.  Matt said it made him feel like an 80-year-old.  I said, but a married eighty-year-old, right?  (Side note: is there anything we should know about which birdseed to use?  We just bought whatever they had at Lowe's, a mix that promised--I kid you not--"20% more color!"  We haven't yet figured out if that means the birds will be 20% more colorful than they used to be, or we'd get 20% more highly colored bird species than we used to.  At present, it appears to be netting us 2,000% more mourning doves, but whatever.  We did see one bright yellow thing, one cardinal, and a sort of titmouse kind of a fellow, which was nice.  Oh, and an inexplicable hummingbird.)

And I also trolled through Austin's Grow Green Guide for ideas of plants we could add to the yard.  What came as a pleasant surprise is how many WF plants we already have.  This begs the question: where are all the bunnies, herons, pumas, foxes, and other furry friends?  But perhaps we don't have a high enough density of WF plants.  Must work on that.

Wildlife-friendly Plants We Have
Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)
Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum)
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi)
Mexican White Oak (Quercus polymorpha)
Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
Eve's Necklace (Sophora affinis)
Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana)
Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora)
Cordia (Cordia boissieri) - a new one; our previous specimen croaked last winter.  If at first you don't succeed...
Pomegranate (Punica granatum)
Evergreen Sumac (Rhus virens)
Abelia (Abelia sp.)
Chitalpa (X Chitalpa tashkentensis 'Morning Cloud')
American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
White Boneset (Eupatorium havanense)
Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus 'Pam Puryear')
Red Columbine (Aquilegia sp.)
Obedient Plant (Physostegia sp.)
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea - butterflies)
Pavonia (Pavonia braziliensis - butterflies)
Salvia spp (Salvia spp. - hummingbirds)
Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora - hummingbirds)
Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
Big Muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri)
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata - butterflies)
Horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis - a volunteer that acts as a proxy lawn for us--not sure if it will have survived the Great Dryness)

But more is required!  So I'd like to start working some of these species in, mostly in the G-n-R bed, the bed around the pond, and the shade bed.

Wildlife-friendly Plants We Want
Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)
Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra)
Buddleia (Buddleia sp.)
Chile Pequin (Capsicum annuum)
Fall Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium - nectar)
Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri - butterflies)
Purple Skullcap (Scutellaria sp - butterflies)
Perennial Winecup (Callirhoe involucrata - Hairstreak butterfly)
Yarrow (Achillea sp. - Painted Lady butterfly)
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium - Skipper butterflies)
Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa)
Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
Wood Violet (Viola sp.)
Echincea Sombrero series 'Sandy Yellow' or 'Hot Coral' (Echinacea purpurea)

Also--and Matt doesn't know this yet, lucky guy! --I'd like to make a rain garden.  The Guide had this really cool pic of rain garden, and I realized that something like that would really add pizazz to the the shade bed, plus we'll need and overflow spot anyway when (as I hope will someday happen) we get that old cistern under our house back in operation.  Think of all the nice boggy plants we could grow, like cardinal flower!

Pretty, no?  And the shade bed would adore the extra water.

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