One of the many things I enjoy about blogging is fellow bloggers are often willing to share their wildlife experiences and gardening tips. Recently blogger Heather N. graciously revealed one of her wildlife gardening tips.
Heather wrote that each summer one of the plants that goldfinches are drawn to in her yard is anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). She went on to say that these beautiful birds are eating anise hyssop seeds right now.
Since I am not familiar with the plant, I decided to do a little research on it. I found that it is native to the northern section of the United States and Canada. However, this perennial herb is widely planted in many parts of the country, including Georgia.
The plant produces blooms that attract a number of pollinators such as butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Its leaves produce a pleasant licorice scent. Its seeds are also consumed by a number of birds, like goldfinches.
If Heather had not taken the time to share her wildlife gardening tip, I might not have ever learned of anise hyssop’s value to wildlife. Now that I am aware of it, I hope to find a place for it in my yard.
Wax myrtle (Morella cerifera) is a native tree/small shrub that produces berries eaten by more than 40 species of birds as well as a number of mammals. Wax myrtle is also a host plant for the jewel-like red-banded hairstreak. The plant also provides birds with nesting sites and escape cover. Unfortunately, many people that plant wax myrtles in hopes the plants will annually bear a bounty of berries are left scratching their heads trying to figure out why their shrubs never produce any berries.
The reason why they end up with barren wax myrtles is due to the fact that wax myrtles are either male or females. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Native Plant Center, often the wax myrtles grown by wholesale nurseries are cloned. If you buy a small wax myrtle full of berries, there is a good chance it was cloned from female plants that were pollinated by male plants growing nearby. Consequently, in future years, unless a male plant is growing in or near your yard, your shrubs will not produce any berries.
With that in mind, if you want to ensure that wax myrtles planted in your yard will produce berries; explain to the folks where you buy your nursery plants that you want to purchase both female and male plants. If they cannot guarantee that you are purchasing both male female plants, shop elsewhere.
You can begin your search for male and female wax myrtles by checking with nurseries that specialize in native plants. If they stock wax myrtles, they are undoubtedly aware of this situation and probably offer both male and female plants. A good place to begin this search for a native plant nursery is to check the list of native plant nurseries listed in the Archive section of this blog.
If you cannot find a source of male wax myrtles there, see if any of your friends and neighbors grow wax myrtles. If they do, most likely they know the sexes of their wax myrtles. Since these shrubs send out lots of suckers, I am sure they will let you dig a few of the suckers sprouting beneath a male plant.
If you are looking for a plant that will add a touch of fall color to your yard, sassafras (Sassafras albidum) may be the perfect addition to your home landscape.
This native tree grows throughout the entire state. Typically, it reaches a height of around 20 feet. In the fall, the tree’s foliage ranges in color from scarlet and orange to gold. While all of the leaves are attractive, I personally prefer its scarlet-colored leaves.
In addition, every 2-3 years female trees also produce a crop of dark-blue, oval fruits (drupes) perched on showy scarlet pedestals.
If you look at a sassafras tree’s foliage, you will quickly notice that it is comprised of leaves shaped like mittens, eggs, as well as those displaying three lobes.
In addition, to providing a flash of fall color, this tree is also a source of food for wildlife. For example, it is a host plant for a number of butterflies and moths including the spicebush swallowtail as well as promethea and imperial moths.
For a brief time in the spring, the sassafras also supplies food for wild pollinators.
Mammals such as rabbits and squirrels consume sassafras fruits. The list of birds that dine on the fruits includes woodpeckers, eastern kingbirds, gray catbird, eastern kingbird, eastern phoebe, great crested flycatcher, mockingbird, and brown thrasher.
Indeed sassafras has a lot going for it; the tree is attractive, and provides for a wide range of wildlife. It does not get much better than that!