Thursday, April 30, 2015

Take Five: Profiles of Five Great Natives

Good things come in small packages. Plant profiles in groups of fives, for instance. It seems a reasonable amount. Here's a post easily filed away for the next time you're at a nursery shopping for plants and say: "Hey, what was that plant?" Now you can look up your "Take Five" blog posts (this will be a new series if it sounds like a reasonable idea). I thus present a small grouping of what is either looking good or blooming in the garden this week.


Number One: AMERICAN CRANBERRY BUSH
  Viburnum trilobum, or American cranberry bush


Although it can be described as a backdrop to your more spectacular specimens, I  think it holds its own with its layered branches of laceap white blooms.


 In addition to the gorgeous layered flowers, it does have three solid seasons of interest. Spring for leaves and blossoms, summer for blossoms, fall for spectacular color and bright red berries. This is a great tree for wildlife, too. The pollinators dig the flowers and birds adore the berries.


A bit difficult to see in this photo, but the flowers hold horizontally and in the shade it's especially useful for brightening it up back there. The top reaches the sun, so it does well where I have it sited. It took a while and was in near total shade for about three years but it kept going - now reaching about 8 feet high.


These blooms will turn to vibrant red berries in the fall that don't last long as birds devour them. The fall color on the leaves is spectacular - the main reason I got this plant.


Here are the stats for Viburnum trilobum or American cranberry bush:

  • zone: 2a - 8b
  • type: deciduous shrub/small tree
  • height: 6 - 15 feet
  • spread: 5 - 10 feet
  • full sun, part sun, part shade,
  • moderate moisture
  • bloom time: early to mid spring
  • flower color: white
  • style: woodland
  • characteristics: native to the northern U.S., attracts songbirds, pollinators, native, showy fall foliage, showy flowers, showy fruit
  • I bought mine at Bosky Dell Natives. I have found it at Portland Nursery.


Number Two: ORANGE HONEYSUCKLE
 Lonicera ciliosa or orange honeysuckle.


Technically, we've covered this before; however, I had not taken any good photos of the blooms. How lovely are these? Bright orange which is so fun for a woodland shade plant, and the hummingbirds love them.


The blooms start off creamy yellow and darken to orange as they age. They are just starting to unfurl and become trumpet shapes. The aphids tend to like this plant, but I blast them off with a stream of water and that seems to do the trick. This is not a honeysuckle for super hot dry locations, it is a woodland plant native to the West Coast, and I have seen it happy as a clam in forest of the Puget Sound area in full shade with a group of hummingbirds fighting over it. It can ramble along the forest floor or climb up a tree or fence. It is not invasive or aggressive, rather it might take a while to establish. A lovely addition if you can find it, I have one in full sun and one in full shade reaching to sun and they are both doing well. They also have their feet in fairly wet soil except during the summer. I do not give them supplemental water much in summer, only in the driest of times. In shade, they can handle drier soil.

  • zone: 5a - 9
  • type: twining deciduous vine
  • 15 to 30 feet
  • spread: 15 feet
  • part sun, part shade, shade
  • moderate moisture
  • bloom time: early spring through July
  • flower color: orange
  • style: woodland
  • characteristics: Western native, attracts hummingbirds, bumble bees, fruit in fall
  • propagation: hardwood cuttings best
  • available at Humble Roots Farm and Nursery. I have found it at Bosky Dell Natives



Number Three: PACIFIC NINEBARK
 Physocarpus capitatus or Pacific ninebark

 
These buds have yet to fully bloom, but it's still worth showcasing. They turn to fluffy white flower heads, and then in summer to papery red fruits with yellow seeds. In winter, the exfoliating bark (hence the name, ninebark) is exposed and quite interesting.


Its graceful, arching branches create a lovely canopy setting. It also takes well to pruning (that's the apple tree trunk, not the ninebark in the middle).


This shrub has the ability to knit soil together so is quite valuable for erosion control along stream sides, water ways and generally wet areas that require some solution.




Update: Here's its blossom opened up, about a week later. 

  • zone: 4 - 10
  • type: deciduous shrub
  • height: 6 - 14' (can be upright or spreading depending on how it is pruned)
  • spread: 4 - 7'
  • full sun or shade
  • moderate moisture
  • not picky about soil type
  • bloom time: mid to late spring
  • flower color: white, dome shaped blooms
  • style: woodland
  • characteristics: native, attracts butterflies (and their larvae) and bees, showy exfoliating bark, great for hedgerows and for creating shelter for birds
  • valuable for erosion control in stream bank areas
  • generally pest and disease free


Number Four: WESTERN AZALEA
  Rhododendron occidentale or Western azalea. It is one of only two species of rhododendron native to the West Coast of North America.


Deciduous and smells delicious.


Interesting buds in clusters ready to open.




Cheerful chartreuse foliage.


Ideal conditions are a moist, cool root zone with good warm air circulation above. If you can provide these conditions, it's worth growing.


These blooms smell like lilies, no kidding. The first time I smelled them I was blown away that something native to the wet Pacific Northwest could smell like it came from the tropics. I was told the key to growing these in either sun or part shade is that they need adequate water in the summer. Otherwise, they get powdery mildew. It sounds counter-intuitive, but that's the truth.


  • zone:  7 - 9
  • type:  deciduous shrub
  • height: 3 - 9'
  • spread:  3 - 5'
  • full sun or part shade
  • soil: acid, well-drained, moist
  • moderate and regular moisture - in the wild, a cool moist root zone is ideal and that can be achieved with mulch and/or shade
  • excellent air circulation helps prevent powdery mildew
  • bloom time: mid-spring through summer
  • flower color: pink to peach to yellowish colors
  • style: woodland to bogs, creek edges, edge of ponds
  • characteristics: native, attracts butterflies (hoary comma butterfly), bumble bees, wonderful scent
  • can be slow growing
  • I bought mine at Livingscape nursery in Portland, they can be found at Bosky Dell Natives and Portland Nursery and many others.



Number Five: MOUNTAIN HEMLOCK
  Tsuga mertensiana or mountain hemlock


Mine was challenging to find, but maybe I wasn't looking hard enough. This slow-growing tree was spotted at Cistus Nursery at a recent visit with my mom. Their irregular alpine shapes are choice for focal points or as a specimen tree in a garden setting. A grouping would be stunning, especially if you were going for an alpine look in the garden.


Needles of the mountain hemlock. More star-shaped than the more readily available western hemlock (see below for comparison). Rounder and spirally arranged and equal in length. They are very slow-growing, naturally growing at 4,000 - 7,000 feet in elevation.


By contrast, here are needles of the western hemlock. They are much flatter and unequal in length. The western hemlock grows to 130' by comparison, not 50' as does the mountain hemlock. This is a much different tree, much faster-growing. Easy to confuse the two.

  • Zone: 5 - 8b
  • Type: evergreen tree, alpine conifer
  •  Height: 30 - 50' (usually only grows 15 - 20' in cultivation)
  • Spread:  8 - 20' (usually only 1 - 4' in cultivation)
  • full sun to light shade but does not tolerate extreme heat
  • soil: acid, moist
  • style: alpine woodland
  • characteristics: native, nesting sites for birds, seeds from cones
  • very slow-growing
  • I bought mine at Cistus Nursery (rather it was a gift)
  • no serious pests, but provide good air circulation
Here is what my Cistus tag says: Handsome, evergreen conifer, native along the Pacific Coast from southern Alaska to the mountains of central California. Can reach 20-30 ft tall x 10-15 ft wide in the garden. Enjoys cool temperatures and moist conditions; does well in part shade or in full sun if not allowed to dry out. Consistent summer water is best. Frost hardy in USDA zone 5. 


There you have it, a bit of detail for five great plant picks this week. Each is very different, with much to offer in the garden. For my "Take Five" series I won't only focus on natives as there are many other plants out there worth mentioning but these just caught my eye this time. Let me know what you think! What would you like to see? What do you think of the idea? Is five a good number? I'm full of questions tonight.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and commenting and happy gardening!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Creating Habitat in Your Backyard: Backyard Habitat Certification Program

If you love birds, frogs, bees and worms, if you've ever wished to create a backyard habitat but don't know where to start, read on. Here in Portland there's a wonderful program called the Backyard Habitat Certification Program to help. Whether or not you live in Portland you can certainly model your own efforts after BHCP's to wonderful results. Let's explore this inspirational program as it is very well-structured and has such useful information. Perhaps there's at least one bit of take-away information that can be applied towards creating your own garden habitat whether you are able to enroll in the program or not.

The wonderful Nikkie West of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program amongst trilliums from a plant sale.

I recently visited Nikkie West, the Backyard Habitat Program Manager for Audubon, at her Audubon offices in southwest Portland, to take a few photos and ask a few questions. First off, what is the BHCP? It's is a partnership between the Audubon Society of Portland and Columbia Land Trust.



 The mission is simple: It's "A Portland program to remove aggressive weeds, to create wildlife habitats, and to garden responsibly." To expand on that, it is also "to plant roots, create a habitat, transform the world, one yard at a time." How to do this? The concept is that people sign up to participate. A site technician visits to perform an assessment and to make recommendations. You receive an incredibly useful packet of information (all of this for $35) and a sign for the yard that reads "certification in progress."

The program is broken into categories for you to follow. Within each category, you choose from a menu of items to accomplish for your own garden and, depending on how many items from each category you fulfill, you obtain different levels of certification. The levels are silver, gold and platinum. When you're ready, a volunteer visits your garden again and re-assesses to see how many items in each of the categories you have fulfilled. Your sign is changed from "in progress" to the one you see above with the appropriate silver, gold or platinum sticker applied. You then get to display your sign in your garden with pride, and your garden is officially part of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program.

Myth: There is a misconception that the entire garden must be planted with native plants to be certified. This is not the case. To obtain silver certification, you must plant a mere 5% along with other criteria. That sounds manageable, right? Let's move on.

The nature store at Audubon headquarters with some native plants out front for sale.


I had a chance to sit down with Nikkie for a Q & A. Here are a few basic points about the program:

Chickadee Gardens: How long has the program been in place? 
Nikkie West: It started as a pilot program in 2006 with the West Willamette Restoration Partnership, and it was so successful in that endeavor that it launched as a citywide program in 2009.

CG: How many gardens are certified at this time?
NW: 2,800 sites are currently enrolled.

CG: What cities are served? 
NW: Portland, Gresham, Fairview and Lake Oswego with plans this fall to revisit the potential to add more.

CG: Biggest myth about certification?
NW: That you have to have all native plants! Only 5% needed for silver certification! 

CG: Can you recommend your three favorite native shade and sun perennials?
NW: Yes! Shade: hooker's fairy bells Prosartes hookeri, clasping twisted stalk Streptopus amplexifolius, meadow rue Thalictrum occidentale,
Sun: shooting star Dodecatheon hendersonii, tiger lily Lilium columbianum, prairie shooting star Lithophragma parviflora.

CG: What's the biggest challenge for new participants?
NW: West-side participants seem to have some native plants to start with but massive invasive weed infestations. East-side participants have a native plant desert; that is to say virtually no native plants to start with.

CG: Where does funding for the program come from?
NW: From East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Metro, PGE, the enrollment fee participants pay of $35.

CG: Advantages of being certified?
NW: Better wildlife viewing! Site assessment and report, quarterly newsletter, discounts and coupons, too. See the website for full list.

CG: (from my humorous husband) Why do you hate lawns?
NW: We don't hate lawns, there's always room for a little lawn!

CG: How has the program grown in the last five years?
NW: The rate of enrollment has increased every year. This year the goal has increased by 300% over last year.

CG: Easiest way to get started?
NW: Sign up through the website.

CG: If someone is not in your enrollment area, what are some other options?
NW: You can always sign up for the national program - the National Wildlife Federation program - the link can be found here.

A monarch caterpillar found our Asclepias speciosa or milkweed last summer. We were thrilled! I wrote about it here.

To repeat, to become certified in any of the three levels (silver, gold, platinum) you must meet some or all of the criteria in each of these six categories. See the website for exact numbers for certification information:

1. Invasive weeds: These weeds have been identified as culprits in changing our ecosystems for the worse, creating a domino effect and displacing native species vital for the health of our native species. Economic impact is often a huge factor, as is the case with a species such as blackberry or English ivy. For the program, you cannot have any of the listed invasive weeds on your property under each category listed. For silver certification, for example, the following must not be present: evergreen and Armenian blackberry, garlic mustard, giant hogweed, ivy, knotweed, orange hawkweed, pokeweed, policeman's helmet, purple loostrife, scot's broom, spotted knapweed, spurge laurel, traveler's joy, yellow archangel and yellow flag iris. Latin names are given on their website as are complete names for gold and platinum certifications.

Here is a link to a poster about invasive plants with a few images. Invasive species take habitat away from what has evolved to live here and reduces biodiversity. More biodiversity means more good critters.

2. Native plants: Oh, boy! This is easy. For silver certification you have to have from 5 - 14% of your garden planted with natives. For gold certification, between 15 and 49%. For platinum between 50 - 100%. I think 5% is very reasonable. What this means is that 5% of your total available plant-able area must be nature-scaped with natives and also include at least three out of five vegetation levels (ground, small shrub layer, large shrub layer, understory canopy, over-story canopy). For platinum, you must have all five vegetation levels. 

Native meadow checkerbloom in my garden with a bumble bee.


Why choose native plants? Here's why, directly from the BHCP website:

 

Ninety percent of all insects are specialized, meaning they share an evolutionary history with native plants and rely on them to survive. Since animals directly or indirectly depend on plants for their food, the diversity of animals in a particular habitat is very closely linked to the diversity of plants in the habitat. 

 

Tuck them in around your fabulous ornamental plants, there are wonderful selections out there. I have three blog posts dedicated to some of my favorite native plants, you can revisit those posts here, here and here. If you live in the Portland, Oregon-area there are many resources for you. Here is a link to a booklet published by Metro listing many native plants and here is a link to the BHCP photo gallery.


The following nurseries all specialize or carry native plants: Echo Valley Natives in Oregon City, Humble Roots Farm and Nursery in Mosier, Oregon (they have a great selection of hard-to-find natives and wonderful Columbia River Gorge wildflowers too), Bosky Dell in West Linn, Oregon, Garden Fever in Portland, Portland Nursery, Xera Plants, and Cistus Nursery. Little Prince of Oregon wholesales to many West Coast retailers. Also, there are many native plant sales through Audubon if you sign up for the program so that you can find plants at a discounted rate. There are also many free nature-scaping and rain-garden classes offered, the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District offers many, check them out here.


 A few of the plants left over from a recent native plant sale. There are some good ones in there!

3. Pesticide reduction: For all three levels of certification, use only YELLOW or GREEN zone chemicals, if necessary, according to an IPM strategy (integrated pest management). No use of RED zone chemicals. For searchable lists of red, yellow, and green zone pesticides see: www.growsmartgrowsafe.org.  For platinum, also take the "No Pesticides" pledge and get your ladybeetle sign for your yard!

 If you are not in the Portland-area and so can't get your "Pesticide Free Zone" sign free from Metro, get one online here.

4. Stormwater management: This category means managing what falls from the sky onto your property. Increasingly more important as drought seems inevitable for much of the West. How to capture that precious resource? Large trees do a good job, as do eco roofs, disconnecting downspouts, removing impervious surfaces and installing rain gardens. A complete list is on the BHCP site.


5. Wildlife stewardship: Aaaw, my favorite. Who could resist putting up bird houses and bird baths? How easy and rewarding is that? Just make sure you maintain them and keep them clean. Oh, and keep your kitty inside. Ever hear of a catio? It's a cat patio, an outdoor enclosure for kitty. There are tours in Portland showcasing creative efforts on behalf of those of us who love birds and cats. There's a link at the bottom of the page to sign up for this year's tour. Also, pollinator-nesting habitats are a plus (brush piles or even mason bee houses), and if you have the acreage, wildflower and grass meadows are wonderful for pollinators and birds alike. You can help reduce bird window strikes (when you hear a "bonk" and you see a bird at the foot of your window) by installing these reflective decals or other decals of your own making. Again, refer to the website and choose three from the list of eight items for, say, a platinum certification. It's all quite flexible.


Downy woodpecker in my garden this past winter.

6. Education and volunteerism: Lastly, time to give back if you are seeking platinum certification. That means either recruiting a couple of neighbors to sign up for the program, allowing your garden to be showcased on a garden tour for the program, volunteering for the program, or signing up for the Metro Master Gardener programs. 


Some of the resources in Nikkie's office library. Many familiar titles here!

Native penstemon in my garden.

So. Does any of this matter? Here are some statistics that will help to answer this question:

Backyard Habitat Certification Program GRAND TOTALS (thru Dec 31, 2014)

  • 2,537 total properties enrolled - 239 in Lake Oswego and 2,298 in Portland
  • 532 total ACRES of enrolled properties in the program - 57 in Lake Oswego, 474 in Portland
  • 1,037 total properties have been certified (includes upgrades and renewals) - 88 in Lake Oswego, 949 in Portland
  • 182 total ACRES of certified properties - 18 in Lake Oswego, 164 in Portland
  • 4,400+ volunteer hours dedicated to the BHCP by amazing volunteers
  • 23,570 total native trees and shrubs planted on certified properties - 1,278 in Lake Oswego, 22,292 in Portland 1250+ followers on Facebook

Philadelphus lewisii or mock orange in my garden last summer.

Here are statistics for the 2014 calendar year:

  • 511 new properties joined the program and received their initial Site Assessment - 67 in Lake Oswego, 444 in Portland
  • 98 ACRES of newly enrolled properties - 13 acres in Lake Oswego and 84 acres in Portland.
  • 222 properties were certified (includes cert upgrades and renewals) - 17 in Lake Oswego, 205 in Portland
  • 55 ACRES of newly certified properties – 4 acres in Lake Oswego, 51 acres in Portland
  • 7,450 Native trees and shrubs installed on certified properties - 418 in Lake Oswego, 7,032 in Portland
  • 1,200+ volunteer hours dedicated to the BHCP by amazing volunteers (another record!)
  • 15,000+ native plants sold to participants through BHCP-discounted native plant sales

Map showing participation across the Portland area by certification levels. Corridors for wildlife are created when multiple properties offer safe refuge for wildlife. Biodiversity can then flourish in urban areas against all odds. It can be done!


Yes, it matters a lot. My little lot plus your lot plus your friend's plus your neighbor's....it all adds up to corridors for wildlife to be able to pass through safely. It means that even in urban areas wildlife can survive if this is the new norm, that we are now the caretakers of wildlife. It seems that we are, and I for one take that to heart. I'm glad to know I have a program such as this to help guide me through the how-to questions and give me resources and ideas about ways to expand my 50 x 100 square-foot piece of nature and concrete. It works, I've seen it and I appreciate the value and quality it has brought to our lives. I have worked very hard to obtain platinum certification, and it has been a wonderful learning journey for me. It has been the reason I have learned about mason bees, eco roofs and so much more. It opened countless doors for me and for this, I thank them. It is the reason behind my passion for gardening and for this blog, frankly.

 If you are interested, I encourage you to explore their incredible website for resources and more. Sign up if you can. It may take a while to get someone out this time of year as spring is their busiest time but someone will, I promise. If you're not in the area hopefully this has inspired independent action and ideas and perhaps the impetus to start a similar program in your own community.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens, thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mason Bees, Chickadees and Eco-roofs, Oh My!

It's the little things that matter the most sometimes. I was up on the eco-roof the other day noticing that within a few square feet amazing things were happening. The roof itself is a microcosm of life with all manner of seedlings sprouting, bees were buzzing around from the mason bee nests a few feet away, and right above my head a pair of chickadees, the garden's namesake birds, were dee-dee-ing right at me. Each of these three elements I have either encouraged or actually physically placed in the garden to increase biodiversity. It is a pleasure then to see them thriving, mostly on their own with little help from me.

Sedums and mosses on the eco-roof are just getting started for the season. Let's take a look at new life this spring at Chickadee Gardens:



First up, the mason bees. I addressed cleaning the cocoons last fall in a blog post that can be revisited here. I have since put in fresh new liners for the tubes and waited for the mason bee cocoons to hatch. They started to do so in March, males first then the females who promptly began filling the tubes with eggs.


See how the tubes are irregular in depth? That helps each female to identify her particular tube. Something I learned from Crown Bees recently. Good info!


Here are two gals capping off the ends with some mud. Mason bees need a good mud source nearby for this purpose, make sure you provide it for them if you want them around. Mud equals happy gals.


Metallic blue on blue. How wonderful.


They are really very cool to watch, and so gentle.


The yellow stuff is pollen. Although they do not produce any honey, here are some benefits of hosting our native, pollinating mason bees:

  • They travel up to 100 yards from their nest site to collect pollen.
  • As far as pollinating, they are some 80x more efficient than honey bees.
  • They forage on overcast days.
  • They will fly and collect pollen at 54 degrees F. whereas honey bees rarely collect pollen below 60 degrees F.
  • Since they fly at lower temperatures and when cloudy, this means that your early blooming fruit trees (and anything else blooming) are adequately pollinated. They are busiest when pollination peaks between May and June.





Now for the eco-roof. Here's a stitched together shot of it from last summer, just to get a sense of scale. To revisit our how-to, I blogged about it here.


Here it is again from the same time period. We did it ourselves with minimal materials and help from the Portland Ecoroof Handbook and Portland Ecoroof Program.


Sedum laxum, a native sedum that really likes it up here.


Sedum laxum again with Sedum spathulifolium in the background and Sisyrichium californicum or yellow-eyed grass in the foreground. All natives and quite happy up here, all putting on fresh growth for the season.


Pretty soon, little yellow flowers will be blooming on these, and the pollinators will be going crazy.


Another native sedum, Sedum divergens also sports yellow blooms that pollinators adore. The fleshy green parts turn red when under stress so it can look like red and green jelly bean sometimes. Kind of fun for kids.




One of my go-to ground covers seen here on the eco-roof, Sedum oreganum. This also has yellow blooms, is evergreen and tough. I highly recommend any of these sedums for ground covers in small sections or for eco-roofs in certain situations.


Sepmpervivum 'Ruby Hearts'.


Jelly beans!


Mystery seedling, maybe fireweed. Sedum 'Angelina' in the background.


Nasturtium seedling I stuck in there some month or so ago. We'll see how long it goes without supplemental water.


Hens and chicks, spreading like a little family should. Sempervivum tectorum.


Tiny seedlings of Escholzia californica or California poppies coming up.


The larger seedling up top looks to me like a Penstemon 'Husker Red' gone astray. We shall see. 


More hens and chicks, too bad we can't enjoy these more often - I have to get on a ladder to see them.
Sempervivum 'Lotus'.



But I know the birds and the pollinators do enjoy them - especially when in bloom.




Sempervivum tectorum.


Next up on the list of small things that are flourishing at Chickadee Gardens: Our namesake bird, the chickadee. This birdhouse has sat empty since I moved in some 6 years ago. It was built by David's father for bluebirds on his Lapwai, Idaho, property. While visiting Idaho and noticing it hadn't been put to use in years, we decided to bring it to Oregon and clean it up. It's been empty ever since, and we'd kind of forgotten about it, actually. Until I was up on the eco-roof last week and Hello?


I was getting chirped at by none other than this little guy. Or gal. Yay! We finally have residents! A pair has taken ownership of the little nest box and she/he let us know. We couldn't be happier.


We've been watching this couple for the past week with great delight. They fly back and forth all day long, taking turns bringing necessary items to the nest.


Ha! I love this. As my friend Amy Campion of The World's Best Garden Blog pointed out, it would just be embarrassing to be Chickadee Gardens and have no chickadees. We no longer have to hang our heads in shame. Hang. Heads. Shame! No more! Hooray!




Also, the very well-written (in my opinion) magazine Garden Design has an online article about my garden out this week, you can read about it here. It touches on biodiversity and wildlife in the garden, certainly major goals of mine in gardening.


Some great reading that brings it all home is this wonderful book written by Douglas Tallamy and published by Timber Press. I highly recommend this. You can buy one here. I bought my copy at Powell's in Portland. The premise is that nature has changed by our doing, and that it can be brought back to some kind of balance, also by our doing. Nature is now in our backyards and gardens, our urban centers and parking strips and by doing one small simple thing like planting just one native plant we can help shift the balance towards sustainability.

 By planting native plants they support a whole host of native insect life which thus supports a host of bird life and so on. This, I believe, is why I see such diversity in my own garden since I have introduced biodiversity in the form of a multitude of native plants, water features, bird boxes, mason bee nests, eco-roofs, no pesticides or herbicides, etc. Even if I just planted one native plant vs. an invasive plant, that would make a huge difference. If you plant it they will come, as I wrote in a post about our miraculous little monarch caterpillar that found our milkweed last summer. It really did find it all the way up north here in Portland. You can see the photos and read about it here.

The future of biodiversity has a grim outlook unless we all take small steps. Plant some milkweed, start a mason-bee box, pledge to cut back on pesticides as there are plenty of alternative ways to get rid of pests. If you have aphids, spray them off with a hose and attract beneficial insects such as ladybeetles and lacewings, for example.Your garden and the chickadees will thank you for it.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens, as always thank you for reading! Until next time happy gardening!