Native Plants and Balconies

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Planning a garden on a balcony is often a challenging prospect, but using native plants can both help, and cause further frustration. Balconies are a very different environment from the places native plants usually grow. In addition to the usual challenges of balcony gardens such as using containers, reflected heat and sun exposure, the weather in cities where most balconies are located is also different. The humidity is often lower in the city, precipitation is higher due to a lack of tree canopy and there’s more runoff. Temperatures in the city are also higher due to the urban heat island effect and in addition, the sun often reflects off the buildings and projects more heat onto balconies. Air quality is another factor to consider as well as the wind, which is often a…

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Hedgerows From Romans to Habitat

 

This is a revised and updated post which was originally published on June 2, 2010.

History

Although not as significant in the US as in the UK, hedgerows nonetheless offer a valuable design opportunity for wildlife habitat. In the simplest terms, a hedgerow is a row of wild trees and shrubs, packed closely together. In the UK they have a very long and interesting history, dating back thousands of years. They were a mixed blessing, good for wildlife, but very bad for peasant farmers. Historically, hedgerows were the remnants of woodlands cleared to make way for agricultural fields. With the passing of the Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries, hedgerows were created in great numbers throughout much of the UK as a fencing boundary. Prior to this farming was done in open, common fields. The result of the Enclosure Acts was that peasant farmers, or those who failed to prove…

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Friday Film:: New Wild Garden

Today’s Friday Film features an inside look at the New Wild Garden from the 2011 Chelsea RHS Flower Show designed by Nigel Dunnett filmed by Dusty Gedge. The garden features a great many elements for wildlife including a stone wall for habitat with built-in insect shelters as well as an insect wall for solitary bees and other insects on the shelter. The shelter is constructed out of a reused shipping container by Green Roof Shelters and includes a green roof designed for biodiversity. Also part of the design is a beautiful rain garden which captures overflow water from the green roof on the shelter and a wild planting area for pollinators.

From the Vimeo description::

The centre piece of the Chelsea RHS Flower show silver gilt New Wild Garden designed by Nigel Dunnett. The…

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5 Wildlife Gardening Resources for the Pacific Northwest

This was originally was published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest

It seems that any time I talk with somebody about landscaping for wildlife or make a book recommendation, this is the first one I mention. There is simply no better book for this region, and in fact this book contains information useful for nearly every region when it comes to wildlife landscaping. There is not a single wasted page in this book and it’s packed full of valuable information including everything from making a pond, choosing the right plants and building bat houses. One aspect of this book which puts it a head above the others is explaining why these design elements are important by explaining plant succession, wildlife populations and structural diversity. It covers…

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Friday Film:: How best to create a wildlife-friendly garden?

There are over 3 million gardens in Greater London which offer an ‘untapped potential’ to make the city more resilient to climate change and better for wildlife, according to the London Wildlife Trust. How do we begin to exploit this potential? According to LWT’s expert gardener Elaine Hughes, gardeners should be a ‘bit less tidy’.

This short video illustrates many of the key points for creating urban wildlife habitat including using drought tolerant plants and providing shelter for birds and insects by being less tidy and leaving seed heads and leaves in the winter months. The video also illustrates how many of the ideas presented can be achieved by nearly anybody; while some people have the resources to add a green roof, others with small space can make a difference by simply planting a window sill with wildlife friendly plants.

The…

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Wildlife Plants:: Foxglove

You would never know that Common Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is not a native plant of North America considering how abundant it is in certain regions like the Pacific Northwest. This flower was introduced from Europe and is found in gardens, and has naturalized to spread to roadsides, fields, forest edges and other disturbed sites around the country. It’s a widely popular garden plant because of it’s dramatic form and color.

Foxglove is a large, biennial herb which can grow to nearly six feet high. The first year the plant produces the foliage but the flowers don’t generally come until the following year. The leaves are alternate, toothed, lance-shaped, green with hair on the top and gray fuzz underneath although what is more noticeable are the large, colorful flower stalks. The flowers are purple, but some populations produce a wide range of colors and bloom during the summer months, usually June and July. The…

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