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If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. ~ Adlai Stevenson

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sanctuary...

image courtesy of NWF
One of our summer goals is to be able to certify our yard (front and back) as a National Wildlife Habitat. We became inspired to do this when The Girl and I were walking around our neighborhood, and saw someone down the block with a small sign that designated them as such. So I've been doing research into this as a family project, and found that we need the following elements in order to obtain certification:
  • Food (at least three sources, can include feeders, plants, etc.)
  • Water (bird baths, seasonal water sources, and so on all count)
  • Cover (we could put in a roost, or grow some dense bushes... two sources needed)
  • Places to raise young (2 sources again... we're thinking nesting boxes and host plants)
  • Sustainable practices (2 practices... we already grow drought tolerant plants, and native ones)
This doesn't seem that it will be too difficult! I'm researching native/host plants, and then as a family we will choose some to install in our yard(s). One host plant I know I want would be Dutch Pipe, or pipevine, good for swallowtail butterflies...

In the meantime, I've been planting some flowers, many of which attract a variety of bees. I love getting my hands covered in dirt, whether through planting or weeding. As M works for a wholesale nursery, we get discards (plants that are beyond their prime for sales), and we get a 20% discount on wholesale prices for other plants! Yesterday, we planted marigolds and lobelia; in the recent past, we've added a number of foxgloves to the garden. Lilies from a friend that I transplanted in have bloomed too, so here are a few pictures from my garden to enjoy!



We also have hummingbirds zipping in and out all day, as well as finches, crows, a mockingbird that sings for us every morning, Towhees, a few Black Phoebes, the occasional Western Bluebird, swallows, and more. One crow has taken to snacking from our dog-food bowls, and often hangs out on our back patio's overhang! That reminds me... I think I'll hand The Girl this book to read over the summer!

We always grow some veggies (mostly tomatoes, peppers, and herbs), so this will be a nice change from that. We're learning about the micro-climates in our yard (influenced by trees and more), and hopefully, we'll learn to identify many of the species of bird and insect that we attract. We'll also be amending our terrible soil (very dense), removing some invasive plants (the bindweed battles continue!), trimming up trees a little, and more! A dear friend of mine has been working on similar gardening goals, and she serves as a font of inspiration.

I'm looking forward to our summer of gardening!

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What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Emerson

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