Wildflower Habitats - What they are and why they are!

Wildflower habitats are sometimes called Regenerative Gardens, Permaculture, EcoGardening, Wildyards - no matter the common name chosen - they all have the same driving force; a celebration of the diversity of plants and animals indigenous to where you live. What's better than a spectacular display of flower colors (whether in a messy mix or discrete color patches) accompanied by an orchestra of bird and insect calling? why we can't embrace this diversity in human colors and voices - well that's another blog post for someone wiser than I; it is however, a heartbreak and an opportunity for humanity to grow world-wide. I am hoping for the latter.

Anyway - gardens and yards...

My yard is an example of wildlfower gardening. This is because I have managed the soils for a diveristy of microbes and arthropods. This is integral to support a diversity of plants that can then provide food and habitats (housing and shelter) for birds and pollinators. I chose to list it with the national Wildlife Federation adding a sign to the yard which may seem self-indulgent. Why do any of this?

  1. I love Nature in all her multi-color coated diversity, and I especially love the flora and fauna of the Eastern US where I call home. I want as much of that nature near me more often than not. I don't want to have to wait till I have time to go hiking in the Appalachian's. I want to awake in the morning and see and smell her. I want to hear her calling at night in the cry of a owls.

  2. It's easier t take care of a wildyard and I need ease when I work in tree canopies or other yards most of the day.

  3. It's fun to design these yards and there's a tremendous diversity of options when doing so. I've got mine currently designed based on microhabitats but I can easily and readily switch it to a color-swatch plan. I may do this in a few years, producing a yard that has a blast of blues blending to reds then to purples and whites as one walks the little lawn path winding through it. Most yards/landscapes don't have this flexibility inherent to their initial design.

  4. Part of being easier to take care of also means less financial inputs in the way of fertilizers and pesticides, and lower carbon footprint with increase carbon sequestration (capture) potential.

  5. Perhaps most important - we are losing plant, insect, microbial, and bird diversity at alarming rates. I cannot stop the climate crisis and I can't even get the City or County to read my report on how to leverage urban greening for economic and ecological benefits. BUT - I can take care of my own back yard. I can at the very least and hopefully not my maximum contribution, provide a habitat for the highest possible diversity of microbes to bugs to plants to birds to snakes to pollinators to raptors to mammals to voles, in a micro-urban habitat supporting an ecosystem-rich life-cycle.

So, I have registered with the NWF because I am hoping my sign along with an abundance of wildflowers and cultivated plants (aiming at 300 species minimum) blooming all year long and attracting a menagerie of birds and butterflies will inspire my neighbors. Fingers-crossed! Maybe, it will be so successful we'll hang out together and garden and swap seeds and porch party and share life stories. One can always dream...

This last item - I don't include in my planning, design, installation for Clients (never!!! even if asked) but I am excited to add to my own garden - black king snakes. First, I find them elegant, harmless. Their bites are nothing (I have been bitten while doing research and a wasp sting is worse), they will help keep down the vole and mole populations and they will help feed the dwindling raptor population.

Very old lists or limited research are where I am getting the names below of losses from our Appalachian flora (plant) and fauna (every other living thing) often due to their loss of land on which to grow but increasingly because of a growing disconnect between pollinators and plants:

red buckeye, hornbeams, witch hazel, sourwoods, carolina buckthorn, down serviceberry, spicebush, huckleberry, passionflower, various sedges, multiple orchid species, Virginia bluebells, Eastern Fox squirrel, red fox, otters, wild turkeys, least tern, freshwater mussels, gray bats (they can eat a lot of mosquitoes and the more diversity in bats the lower the likelihood of a pandemic moving through them to us). Continuing - the Nashville crawdad, spring creek bladderpods (Lesqurella perofrata), several salamander species, and many many pollinators as well as too many frog species to list here; arthropods overall abundance is down between 40 and 70% depending on which area of the area sampled. Wild bee (solitary and communal) and native plant networks. What is this? These networks are like what we create in social arenas now call social-capital which can lead to increased security). Here they are describing plants that facilitate pollinators and vice versa and plants and pollinators that facilitate/support other species of plant and/or pollinator (nothing wants to live in a monoculture); that support them have declined by 94% in North America.

We can ignore this - many of us likely will, perhaps most of us.

I can choose to do a lot of things like ignore how little exercise I get and how little stretching I do (sigh). Regardless of my mental framework and input to a topic I am ignoring, it won't stop my body from reducing range of motion even faster as I enter 60 and 70 years old. I/we can ignore any multitude of difficult and alarming topics and we have to at least filter some to be effective in our lives and enjoy living.

No individual can fix the world. We can however, contribute to a network of people and communities by simply including our yards, landscapes, flower boxes in solution building for the flora and fauna we need to survive and who need Us for their survival.