Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Winged Blessings of Summer Flowers

Mid summer is here in Flagstaff with or with out the monsoon rains. Walking through the garden yesterday, I couldn't help but notice the abundance of flowering plants. I began counting and ended up with close to 35 different flowering species of plant in our 1/4 acre oasis. Many of these make wonderful additions to salads and are a huge boon for native pollinators.

It is amazing to stop and just listen and watch the flurry of insect activity flocking to each bloom. Birds as well swarm to our yard in search of food. While many of our neighbors put out bird feeders, many of which are filled with potentially invasive weeds, we plant our feeders. Cut-leaf coneflower, for instance is our gold finch feeder. Penstemons and many tubular mint flowering plants like agastache are our hummingbird feeders. With each year, I watch and learn what birds seem to prefer what flowers.

I love the addition of wild birds to the garden. Sure they are great to watch, but I also appreciate what they do for my garden. In return for providing them a little habitat our gardens recieve free pest control. If one insect such as grasshoppers get out of control we seem to have a population of birds that work to eat them thereby keeping things under control. In addition to pest control these birds also bring with them fertilizer in the form of their manure, which they kindly spread around the very plants that they are attracted to minimizing my need to bring in any soil suppliments. Free pest control and fertilizer how can I afford not to welcome these winged blessings.