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Grow a Wildlife Garden

Attract pollinators and birds to your garden by growing these plants.

By Sharon Biggs Waller

Borage and bee
Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Attract bees to your garden with borage.

Watching insects and birds benefit from a garden you’ve planted is very rewarding. Ornamentation for a bird-and-butterfly garden could include birdhouses, a birdbath or a fountain for attracting these types of wildlife, as well as some wildlife statuary and more natural- or rugged-looking furniture for decoration. You can also arrange the plants in the shape of a butterfly as a nod to its inspiration.

Choose both nectar plants and plants that are larval foods.

Plants to Try

Jupiter’s Beard (Centranthus ruber)
Also known as red valerian, it blooms early summer to fall. Both bees and butterflies flock to this plant for its valuable nectar.
perennial; USDA zones 4 to 9

Borage (Borago officinalis)
Bees adore the starry blue flower of this easy-to-grow herb. Borage honey is said to be among the tastiest. The nutritious leaves can be eaten like chard or put in salads and beverages. The flowers are also edible.
annual; hardy to zone 7

Scarlet Beebalm (Monarda didyma L.)
The name says it all: This is a favorite plant of bees, but butterflies and hummingbirds love it, too. Traditionally used as a relaxing herbal tea, it’s also a plant for an apothecary garden. Its lemony scent and drying properties for potpourri make it a good bet for the scented garden, too.
perennial; USDA zones 4 to 9, depending on the species

Butterfly Milkweeed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Butterflies, hummingbirds and many beneficial insects adore this plant. It’s also the food plant for Monarch and Queen butterfly larvae.
perennial; USDA zone 3 to 9

Other Plant Choices
Cypress vine for hummingbirds
Cosmos for butterflies
Lavender hyssop for bees

About the Author: Sharon Biggs Waller is a freelance writer and hobby farmer based in northwestern Indiana. She has several themed gardens of her own, including a scented garden and an apothecary garden. She’s the author of The Original Horse Bible (BowTie Press, 2011) and blogs at www.sharonbiggswaller.com.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2011 issue of Hobby Farm Home.

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