Draw Birds and Butterflies to Your Home
Now that the Sun has returned and the days are getting warmer, the birds and butterflies will begin to appear. Take the time to research which species are native to your area, and follow these tips tp encourage them to visit you often!
Butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, insects, rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife find refuge in our backyard gardens. Some are seeking shade, and others are hunting for food, while some species are making our gardens their homes. The vibrant colors of the fluttering butterflies and the graceful dance of the hummingbirds feeding on the nectar-producing flowers adds to the beauty of a garden in bloom.
Butterfly and hummingbird gardens are a popular theme to use when designing your garden or landscaping. It can literally bring your garden to life. By planting a combination of flowering plants, native grasses and leafy shrubs you can create a beautiful garden that is not only pleasing to the human eye with color and balance, but also attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.
It is the process of pollination and survival that draws wildlife into your garden. Butterfly and hummingbird gardens are similar in that many of the same plants that attract butterflies also attract hummingbirds. Color, fragrance and nectar-producing blooms are the primary characteristics that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. It is also important to create a host environment for larvae and caterpillars, which later transform into butterflies. Good host plants are leafy and can provide shelter and food for the larvae and caterpillars.
Bring Butterflies To Your Garden
Butterflies are attracted to colorful, fragrant flowers that are shallow and easy to perch on. Food in the form of nectar and sometimes rotting fruit, sap and animal waste are what lure the butterflies to a plant. Nector is the primary attractor; it feeds both butterflies and hummingbirds. Color and fragrance are also important features that will draw butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden.
Hummingbirds Like Red
Hummingbirds are particularly fond of bright reds, purple, white, pink, orange and blue. Bee Balm and Cardinal Flower are two of the hummingbirds' favorite nectar sources. These plants, however, don't have a long bloom life, so it is important to add a variety of nectar-bearing flowers to ensure a longer feeding season.
Designing Your Garden
When designing your garden, take into consideration where you will be when viewing the wildlife that comes there. Vines and crawling plants that grow on a trellis can be placed near windows and sitting areas for viewing from indoors. Butterflies are cold blooded and enjoy sunning themselves. Select a garden area with full sun or at least 6 hours of full sun. Include some flat rocks or other light colored flat surfaces for basking. Butterflies and hummingbirds also like to be sheltered from the wind, so take this into consideration as well. Add a couple of shallow pans filled with sand and water to create a shallow puddle that can used as a water source.
Attract Birds With A Water Element
A bird bath, pond, re-circulating fountain or other water element adds dimension and activity to any garden. Birds love water in wide, shallow pools that are elevated off the ground approximately 3 feet or higher. Keep the depth at the center of the bath to a maximum of three inches, and shallower at the edges when possible.
A simple and inexpensive idea is to use a plastic or metal garbage can lid. You can elevate the lid on a small table or ledge, or prop it up on a tree stump. You can place a few large rocks in the center to hold the lid in place and to serve as a perch for the birds while bathing.
Place your birdbath in view of a window so you can enjoy the birds' activities from inside your home. Place the bath near a hose so it is easy to fill up. If you can create moving water through the use of a fountain, drip or other type of spray mechanism your birdbath will attract more birds.
Food Source For Larvae and Caterpillars
Popular Caterpillar food plants are the passion vine and senna (Senna covesii, Senna leptocarpa or S. lindheimeriana). Pipevine (Aristolochia microphylla) and milkweed varieties including common milkweed (A. syriaca), pine-leaf (Asclepias linaria), narrowleaf (A. subulata), and butterfly weed (A. tuberosa). Fern acacia Acacia angustissima (A. hirta) and native mallows like Abutilon, Herrisantia, and Sphaeralcea also make good food plants. Desert Hackberry (Celtis pallida) is another larval food plant that also attracts Empress Leilias with sap and rotting fruit. A few others to consider are Side oats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) and green spangletop (Leptochloa dubia).
Coloring Ostara Eggs
During Ostara, eggs symbolize birth and renewal, as well as the "cosmic egg" of the universe. Here are some ideas to decorate your eggs organically.
First, hard boil however many eggs you wish to decorate and add one to two tablespoons of white vinegar. Next, prepare the dyes on the stove top using a pan. Use at least two cups of water and one teaspoon of vinegar plus the organic dye ingredients. Use 3 to 4 teaspoons of the spice ingredients and 3 to 4 cups of the whole fruit or vegetable ingredients. Boil the dye for at least five minutes, but remember that the longer you boil, the deeper the hue of the dye. Crush the ingredients in the pan to release the pigments, and strain.
Note: It's best to use the dyes when they are hot. Remember: the longer you soak the eggs in the dyes, the better the colors will turn out. Be patient and enjoy!
Yellow - use yellow onion skins, ground cumin, or turmeric
Blue - use chopped red cabbage, purple grape juice, or canned blueberries
Green - use chopped or canned spinach or parsley
Red - use rose hips tea, cranberries, red grape juice, or pomegranate
Brown - use coffee grounds, black walnut shells, or black tea
Pink - use beet juice or raspberries
Orange - use paprika, carrots, or chili powder
*Start with hard-cooked (boiled) eggs and refrigerate until ready to use. Eggs that are too fresh are difficult to peel. The fresher the eggs, the harder it will be to peel them because the white membrane is just not mature enough. Hard boiling farm fresh eggs will invariably lead to eggs that are difficult to peel. Eggs need to be at least three (3) days old to peel well. Learn how to cook Perfect Boiled (hard-cooked) Eggs.
*The longer you soak the eggs in the following dye liquids (of your choice), the more intense the colors will be.
*If desired, before dyeing the eggs, draw shapes, pictures or inspiring words on them with crayons or a piece of wax. The wax won't absorb the color so the designs will show through. Using a crayon, simply draw a design onto your eggs and then dye as you would any other Easter egg. Your crayon design will be accentuated by your choice of dye!
*Rubber bands are all you need to make tie-dyed eggs. Use a collection of different sized rubber bands. Wrap the rubber bands, one at a time, around the eggs. Make sure to leave some of the egg shell exposed so it can be dyed.
*Once the eggs are dyed to the color you like, remove them from the water and let them dry. Once dried completely, pull the rubber bands off to reveal your banded design.
*For a textured look, dab the still wet egg with a sponge.
© MoonShine, Inc. Yule, 2017