A Southern Urban Wildlife Habitat
DescriptionOur yard started out as a typical urban landscape; lawn, a few shrubs and trees. Maintaining this look was dependent on chemicals and lots of water, so we started to look for alternatives. We started by reducing the lawn, and planting more shrubs and plants that are native to our area. The garden has changed over the years as our tastes have changed. It has been thoroughly wild at times, but we keep it trimmed and neater nowadays.
It all began almost twenty-five years ago when the local GreenScapes group held a tree sale. I purchased five and planted them in the front yard by the street and started to eliminate the lawn. About twenty years ago, we were certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
We got some bad reactions from the local historical society members at first, but after they saw the benefits, they opened their expectations of what a traditional urban landscape can be. Since we started, a few neighbors have also replaced their lawns, some with natives, others with exotics. We have always offered help with advice and plants when people are interested.
I have a thing for antique roses and use them in the landscape backed up with native plants. Since the antiques don't need spraying, the yard is chemical-free. We have 'Champney's Pink Cluster,' 'Duchesse de Brabant,' 'Climbing Old Blush,' and 'Prosperity.' The last one, 'Prosperity,' was actually purchased from Peggy Coven, who has saved a huge number of old roses from extinction.
There's LOTS of wildlife in the garden! Birds of all kinds visit our yard for the water and food we keep out. They keep down the insects to help us keep our vegetable garden chemical-free. We have many different butterflies and plant many nectar and larval food for them. We have 'Hercules' Club' for swallowtails, passionflower for fritillaries and sulphurs. We use frog fruit with native mimosa and dune sunflower as a lawn substitute in the front. They attract all sorts of bees to help pollinate our vegetable and fruit garden.