Here on Snow Mountain, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, I see quite a few hackberry trees, Celtis occidentalis. Most are trees with circumferences of 5 inches or smaller, trees that have not been around long. Their small size may be, in part, because the forest up here is a young forest. Back in the 1950s […]

Beer and Butterflies, Hops and Commas


This is the time of year I think most of us gardening folk are itching to get back out there tending to our plants and critters.  I’ve been taking inventory of my seeds, shopping around for new bee boxes and bird houses and mentally designing new flower beds.  Since my brother and I spend so […]

The Undisclosed Location

Planting a Living Christmas Tree, photo by Kathy Vilim

I love January in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains. Recent rain has brought new life to the drought-stricken soil, and new spring green seedlings are sprouting up everywhere. Trails are still wet one week after our 1-day rainstorm.  After waiting all year for rain, native plants waste no time in asserting themselves. This month, the air […]

Dead Wood is Not Dead Weight

Wood 3 Moss sm

Dead wood from trees provides abundant habitat for wildlife in your garden. We talk often of the value of native trees in your wildlife garden. Trees provide all manner of ecosystem services, and provide food and shelter for many different kinds of wildlife. In fact, native trees support vastly larger numbers of different species of […]

Can I Make a Difference?

Bluejay 004a

How many of you ponder this question? You’re living in a house with a small yard in an urban area. After you plant your tomato and pepper plants, there just isn’t much room left. You hung up a bird feeder – could you do more, you wonder? You hear about the problems with the bees […]

Cattails For Wildlife

Cattail Seed landscape sm

  Cattails (Typha spp) are a wetland plant that provides food and habitat for wildlife including birds, frogs and toads, muskrats and more. Last week I visited Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, MD and was a bit surprised to observe the Cattails releasing their fluffy seeds into the wind in late December. Usually the […]

Purple Coneflower – cornerstone of our butterfly garden

This Red-spotted Purple butterfly enjoys feeding from coneflowers, even though this species of butterfly usually prefers to feed from tree sap runs and rotting fruit.

  After nearly 20 years of gardening to support butterflies, I would have to say that our native eastern purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) are the cornerstone of our (myself and my brother’s) butterfly gardens. Our beautiful wildlife gardens would not be complete without these hardy flowers. They are generally pest and disease free plus they […]

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