By Jeff Osmundson
Greetings Skagit Audubon Members and Friends,
For some of us this has been a long winter and a very wet and dark January. As February helps us turn the corner with a few more bright days and the sun setting after 5:00 (finally), we might start to turn our attention to our yards and gardens. If you are lucky enough to have room you may have one of those Wildlife Sanctuary signs up or you may try to be bird friendly. If you are like me and took advantage of the lazy and messy garden over the winter, it may be time to start getting ready for new plants or seeds. If that is the case, as you plan your seed and plant additions this year, there are a couple of ideas for your consideration.
Did you know that those showy but non-native plants can be starving the birds? About 90% of the local bugs also like local plants. Without the help of some native plants in our garden it can become a desert for our bird friends. It was shocking for me to learn that the largest irrigated crop in our country is grass and it covers over 40 million acres coast to coast. Grass is not very attractive to birds, unless you are a robin. And many of the natives that are available take less water and fertilizer to look great and attract wildlife. Our bird friends, along with other local wildlife, do much better with a larger variety of plants in our garden and lesser use of herbicides and fertilizers. Native planting doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. I know that I love those showy flowers, the variegated leaves and the different textures that cultivars can bring to the garden. But, at least for me, I’m going to trend towards more native plants wherever I can in the garden this year. Hopefully it will be appealing and also rewarding for our insects and birds.
Many thanks to Brenda Cunningham for all of her help with sources and resources for this short article. Brenda is a Skagit County Master Gardener and display garden manager for the Salal Chapter of the Native Plant Society.
Here is one of the very useful links that she provided: