• Native Plants

    by Marvin J. Sheffield
    Many Pagrovians frequently ask me what I am photographing in my garden and when I do my walks at Spanish Bay. As a career environmentalist, and lover of wildlife both mammalian as well as avian, I am always pleased to point out the delightful native birds (or mammals) that we share our State with.
    When people ask me how they can be more successful in attracting native birds, I ask what plants or shrubs they already have; and too often their garden favorites are “foreign” plants that offer little or nothing in the way of food, or shelter during inclement weather, (such as our recent needed rains) or nesting sites. I suggest that they utilize groups of Native American shrubs and trees, with preference given to those well adapted to our Coastal climate. An example of a “nice” shrub that grows well here, but offers nothing to native birds or other wildlife, is the Camellia.
    Native conifers such as Monterey Pines, or Cypresses are an excellent source of shelter for many species of birds especially when they are young and under 40 feet tall. Berrying shrubs such as Toyon, are certain to attract American Robins and Cedar Waxwings, including Northern mockingbirds. Our native Coastal Live oak is an excellent choice, if one has the room for it, and both serves as a food source for Acorn woodpeckers, Band tailed pigeons, as well as our native gray squirrel. It also is a favorite for many species of owls to roost in. Basically, arranging your garden so that two conifers grouped in a corner of the garden, will offer nesting sites and shelter for many indigenous bird species. Manzanitas and other low growing shrubs will supply ground cover and little apple-like fruits for the ground-dwelling birds, and offer shelter. Incense Cedars while native to California but not our peninsula region do very well here with just a bit of supplemental water until well established, and they ARE fragrant when wet. Adding nectar source native plants such as Hummingbird sage and penstomens, plus our native buckwheat species, is certain to attract butterflies, and hummingbirds, and our native wild bees, that are important pollinators.
    The California Native Plant Society has a Monterey Bay Chapter which along with the Audubon Society has monthly meetings at the Pacific Grove Museum, and can be an excellent source of plant information and sales. I will list some feathered visitors to consider encouraging next time.

    Marvin J. Sheffield, DVM
    Wild Canid Research Group
    651 Sinex Avenue
    Pacific Grove, CA. 93950-42543
    (831) 657 4175

    posted to Cedar Street Times on March 6, 2009

    Topics: Green


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