Recently I discovered a great book at my library called Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden by Catherine Johnson, Susan McDiarmid and Edward Turner that I’m very excited to share with LOTB readers. What initially caught my eye was the book’s subtitle, “Creating backyard and Balcony Habitats for Wildlife.” Any gardening book that remembers balcony gardeners definitely definitely starts off on the right foot with me!
The first nine chapters are about the various butterflies, insects, birds, mammals, etc that you can attract to your yard, balcony, or rooftop. Interspersed in those nine chapters are 35 different projects to build things like bird feeders, window boxes to attract butterflies, and bat houses. The projects are all fully illustrated with step-by-step instructions and materials lists. And the book is just full of information to answer pretty much any question or problem you might come across.
After that, there are another five that cover specific topics, like 15 detailed pages on balcony and rooftop gardening for wildlife, designing your wildlife habitat, incorporating water features, and nature activity suggestions (for adults and children). The remaining chapters container another nine projects, for a total of 44 in the book. Practically every page has a full color photo or illustration that really help you understand what the authors are describing and inspire you to “garden for wildlife.” I wish it wasn’t a copyright violation to show you some of the pictures, like the ones of the baby robins in a nest the mother bird made in a in between some plants in a large pot. So cute!
Here are a listing of some of the projects I think urban gardeners will be particularly interested in:
- Fancy Corn Cob Feeder
- Suet Feeders (including one idea that uses half a coconut)–Great for attracting birds during the winter
- Inside Outside Feeder–Perfect for those that don’t even have a balcony, the feeder rests on your windowsill
- Butterfly Houses
- Butterfly Ledge–Another good idea that can be used by folks that don’t have a balcony
- Bee Houses
- Container Gardener’s Worm Box
I also want to draw attention to the chapter on nature activities. When you live in an urban or suburban environment, you might feel pretty disconnected from nature or think that there isn’t anything worthwhile you can do to help wildlife. To the contrary, the authors provide many activities you can do, even in a very urban environment, such as keeping detailed notes on when your plants flower to help scientists monitor climate change, reporting the number and types of birds visiting your feeder to Cornell University scientists, or helping to remove invasive plants from a nearby park.
Creating backyard habitats is what originally got me interesting in gardening way back when I was in elementary school, so finding this book was a nice surprise. If you’re also looking for a way to combine gardening for your own pleasure with helping out the local birds and animals too, I can’t recommend Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden enough. I’m sure you’ll read it nearly cover-to-cover and then refer back to it often. I know I’ll be buying one for myself after I return the library’s copy.