Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trills and Thrills in the Garden

I'm so excited that I'm hopping up and down. Hopping like a California Towhee in the underbrush of my yard! California Towhees look a like big, plain brown sparrow, but with a longer tail.

Its presence is evidence that my humble habitat is doing its job.

I immediately emailed conservation biologist Dan Cooper of Cooper Ecological to ask if this meant I could claim my native plants are providing good habitat, superior to your average garden. "Yes," he answered. "That's awesome. They are a major indicator of native habitat, in my opinion."

I've had my yard "certified" by the National Wildlife Federation's Garden for Wildlife program. If you've got native plants, consider applying. After you fill out some forms and pay a small fee, they'll send you a sign that helps raise awareness of the role yards can play in sheltering and feeding wildlife.

Another thrill in the garden this week: My barely five-month-old California fuchsia is blooming. This native is a welcome addition to a native/Mediterranean-climate garden because it blooms when most of the other plants don't. Nevin Smith, author of Native Treasures, says its long, red tubular flowers are "a classic example of flowers evolved for pollination by hummingbirds." The hummers can thank dry garden queen Emily Green, who gave me two of the plants.

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