To ensure a supply of water during the hot summer, we also catch and store rain in a convenient barrel.
Recycling the debris
No garden should be without a compost heap. Unwanted plant material is placed in these cribs and left to break down into humus that is used to enrich our garden soil instead of commercial fertilizers. Partly composted leaves are spread between the flowers as mulch to reduce weeds and conserve water.
Because no pesticides are used in the FWG, clippings and weeds are quickly broken down by soil organisms, insects, and earthworms. Woody cuttings and branches that decompose slowly are piled up in a corner of the garden to provide shelter for wild creatures.
Aliens in the garden
Next to our Interpretive Centre, we are growing wildflowers that were originally brought here by settlers from Europe, often for use as herbs and medicine. Many of these alien plants have become naturalized to our conditions and are now found commonly in the wild. Plants such as phlox, geranium, sedum, and feverfew attract butterflies and other insects.
But be careful to avoid invasive alien species, such as dog strangling vine and garlic mustard. These seem to have no natural enemies in our region, so are able to spread rapidly and replace native plants.
Did you know that the common dandelion did not exist in North America until it was brought by Europeans who valued it for its nutritional and medicinal properties?
Natural pest control
Gardeners often unknowingly create the monocultures (large areas of a single species) that sustain garden pests! They are then forced to use pesticides that are deadly to most forms of wildlife. A garden filled with a diversity of plants is much more likely to achieve an ecological balance that keeps pests and other species under control.
Certain plants are especially attractive to wasps and flies whose larvae prey on many of our pest species. To encourage the “good” insects, we have spring-flowering trees and shrubs, such as crabapples and serviceberries, for early season nectar. In summer, herbs, such as chervil, coriander, anise, and fennel, are abuzz with these species, and in fall the asters and goldenrods serve the purpose.
We hope you enjoy our Backyard Garden and are inspired to adopt some of our methods: biodiversity for balance; food, shelter, and water for wildlife. For more information, please visit our Interpretive Centre where brochures on specific topics are available, and be sure to read the noticeboards at the front of the centre for up-to-date information on what to see in the rest of the Fletcher Wildlife Garden.