In these late summer days, I’ve been spying a lot of wildlife in the garden.
Birds, bugs and bees of course, even deer! Located directly at the base of Burke Mountain we are lucky enough not to have these majestic animals regularly munching on the garden. They are quite a handful to those who live across from the forest edge.
Another visitor we do have to regularly look out for in our yard are the bears. Thankfully so far this season we have been bear free, unlike in previous years. Our neighborhood has been doing it’s best to keep temptation locked tight and far away from sensitive black bear noses. That’s not to say they aren’t around. You only have to look up the street into Coquitlam to see the signs. Knocked over garbage cans, trash strewn about. Garbage can locks like Critter Guard, have made all the difference in my community. I sure hope the City of Coquitlam catches on fast. Garbage bears are completely preventable.
Then there are critters that I’m trying to encourage into the garden. Hummingbirds are always a fantastic sight. Years ago I planted large swaths of Monarda (Bee Balm) across the back beds to beckon them in. It’s worked!
If you are looking for a plant to help bring wildlife in to your garden, I highly recommend Bee Balm. Not only are they fun (they sort of remind me of Animal from the Muppet’s… You too?), come in a variety of bright and cheery colours, but they also thrive on neglect. This perennial can take a wide range of soil types, but does it’s best in sunny, well drained soil. It loves the difficult little corner where nothing else grows! Honest!
Monarda has had a long medicinal history, with some Native American tribes recognizing the plants strong antiseptic qualities, historically using parts of the plant for skin infections and minor wounds. Bee Balm is also a natural source of Thymol, the primary active ingredient in mouth wash. It’s leaves, when crushed produce a highly fragrant oil and are regularly used to make tea.
Monarda doesn’t just attract Hummingbirds, a host of pollinators are drawn in by its bright beautiful blooms, including some predator and parasitic wasps that hunt garden pests. It makes a wonderful companion plant, bringing the hunters right into the garden. Bee Balm partners well with tomatoes, ostensibly improving both their health and flavor.
There are a lot of other plants gaining wildlife attention in my garden. The photo above was taken with my camera phone while I was out watering one morning. That beautiful little butterfly spent a fair bit of time drinking from my Proven Winners Iced Cherry Superbena’s. I love this annual for it fantastic spreading habit and bundles of hot pink flowers, but with all of the recent butterfly action, I’m drawn to it even more! What a sight as I step out the door!
I feel like doing a stake out with my camera one day, just to see what else I find making it’s home in my garden!
***Disclaimer: Some of the plants in this article were given to me by Proven Winners, for trials and testing. ***