Attract Birds to Your Garden!

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A common fantasy among plant-lovers is having a garden, or at least a little flower patch, that attracts birds and butterflies. We picture sitting at our windows or out on the front porch, watching hummingbirds flit among the flowers, at peace with the world.

Unlike many of our fantasies, a bird garden is actually doable. There are any number of plants that attract hummingbirds and other avian creatures, so no matter your climate there are bound to be some that you can use. Sunflowers are both popular and beautiful, birds and butterflies love them, and they're native to all 48 contiguous states. Birds also love black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, marigolds, columbines, chrysanthemums, and, for you westerners, the California poppy. It's recommended that you also make safe hiding places for your visiting fauna, so consider trees and shrubs as well. Particularly if your property is fairly new, you can plant strategically to have dense growth around the yard offering plenty of places to dart, jab, flutter, and just hang out. Some trees birds love include cedar, dogwood, sumac, madrone, Eastern hemlock, and Japanese maple. And some of their favorite shrubs are honeysuckle (which also smells yummy), boxwood, Virginia creeper, holly, juniper, and--yum!--raspberries and grapes.

In California, the Friends of the Regional Parks Botanical Garden has a great number of planting suggestions to bring bird visitors. And the Online Nature Mall offers both additional suggestions and books on planting bird gardens--they're a fantastic resource for creating your fantasy bird-and-butterfly garden. And even if you don't get anything, The Garden Helper has a list of bird-friendly plants that's frankly just fun to say (beard tongue, bunchberry, bee balm-and that's just the B's!). No matter where you are, with careful planning, you can be out on that porch listening to the chirping, just like you dreamed.

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