In the last post, we left Ms. Town Mouse and Ms. Country Mouse in beautiful Tilden Regional Park, listening spell-bound to the teachers of the Gardening for Wildlife class. Sure, sometimes it got a little--surreal.
Teacher:"And then you want to have multiple water sources for the birds, but you don't have to change the water every day, every 3 or 4 days is enough."
Town Mouse:"Well, I had the water district mosquito abatement people check my garden, and they said if the birds use the birdbath, you don't need to worry about mosquitoes. Stirring up the water is enough."
Teacher:"Yes, I agree, you don't have to change the water every day, but scrub it out really well every 3 or 4 days."
Town Mouse (thinking to herself) "If the birds drink from a puddle, it's not freshly scrubbed either."
But then, more plants to admire. Here's the selection of wildlife plants for the woodland.
Holosiscus discolor (Ocean Spray, Cream Bush). Larval host of Lorquin's Admiral butterfly, summer flowers attract beneficial insects. This 5x5 feet shrub likes full sun to light shade but blooms better with some sun. It's a perfect understory for under native oaks. I bought two plants last year, for the shady area near the redwoods, and hope to see the beautiful flowers next spring.
Symphoricarpos albus (Snowberry). A nectar source for bees in early spring and source of berries for birds in fall. This gracefully arching deciduous shrub with clusters of small pink flowers likes part shade and is drought tolerant but adaptable to garden water. This photo from Las Pilitas shows off the berries nicely.
Festuca Californica (California Fescue) provides cover for insects and seeds and nesting materials for birds. Long a favorite in the Town Mouse garden, this bunch grass likes part shade and is drought tolerant. The teacher added a propagation tip: The seeds germinate readily with bottom heat. This prize winning photo shows off the golden grass nicely with some Monardella villosa in the background.
Heuchera (Coral bells) bloom abundantly in April and May and attract hummingbirds. They are perfect in dry, shady areas , though adaptable to garden water. Established plants can be divided in late fall. I actually have a lot of Heuchera in my garden, including some hybrids with lime green and plum foilage, but realize I have hardly any photos! But here is one photo of beautiful Heuchera maxima, tall, elegant, and self sufficient.
Dudleya species entice hummingbirds and insects with their flowers and are well suited to light shade. I can very much agree with that; my succulents in the front garden look truly terrible in the summer sun and perk up only when the rainclouds of fall and winter start to arrive. Here the unlikely flower of a chalk dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta), which blooms for quite a long time in summer and is indeed beloved by hummingbirds.
At this point, we were so inspired, we were ready to run out, go buy some plants, and wait for the wild creatures attracted by the bounty. But there was more information to come: Wildife plants for Chaparral areas (soon on this blog).