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Publication: Garden Guides
Planting for Wildlife

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                   GardenGuides Newsletter 
                        May 30, 2006

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Summer Care of Roses

* Deadheading:
Most modern roses, even some heirloom varieties, will bloom 
all summer if properly groomed. "Deadheading" refers to the 
process of removing old or spend flowers from the bush. 
Whether you've been cutting the flowers to enjoy indoors or 
have left them on the bush to beautify the garden, proper 
trimming ensures strong reblooming. By deadheading roses 
instead of allowing them to form seed hips, you're signal-
ling the plant to produce more flowers. It's also a way to 
continually prune and shape the plant.

* Fertilizing:
While most rose gardeners fertilize in the spring when 
growth begins, midsummer feeding sometimes gets overlooked. 
Roses are heavy feeders — it takes a lot of energy to 
produce all those large, magnificent blooms! Many different 
fertilizers do the job — you can choose from granular, 
liquid, organic or slow-release. While each formula has its 
advantages, keep in mind that roses prefer a fairly balanced 
fertilizer where the N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) 
ratios are fairly even (i.e. 15-15-15 or 5-10-5). High-
nitrogen fertilizers without enough phosphorus and potassium, 
such as lawn fertilizers, will produce lush green foliage 
while sacrificing blooms.

* pH:
pH measures the acidity (or alkalinity) of your soil. It's 
an important consideration because of its affect on 
fertilizer. If soil is overly acidic or alkaline, then 
nutrients might be "tied up" in the soil and won't be avail-
able to the plant, no matter how much fertilizer you apply. 
Roses prefer slightly acidic soils (pH of 6.5-7.0). Since 
some fertilizers can acidify the soil and since some areas 
have alkaline water, it's a good idea to check your soil pH 
and adjust accordingly by adding garden lime (dolomitic lime 
works well) if too acid, aluminum sulfate or acidifying 
fertilizer if too alkaline. Adding more organic matter 
(compost, peat moss, decomposed bark, etc.) to the soil also 
helps to stabilize the effects of low or high pH.

* Watering:
Roses like a good, deep soak to promote deep rooting and 
they will actually develop drought tolerance if established 
this way. Frequent light waterings promote shallow roots 
that will depend on frequent watering. Applying the water 
slowly with soaker hoses or drip irrigation allows the water 
to soak in rather than running off, keeps water off the 
foliage (wet leaves spread fungal diseases), and reduces the 
puddling which can cause clay soils to form a hard surface 
less permeable to water. Mulching helps by reducing 
evaporation, retaining moisture, and preventing the soil 
surface from caking. If you use overhead watering, do it in 
the morning so that the foliage will have plenty of time to 
dry off before nighttime. Roots need air as well as water, 
so don't keep the soil continually soaked. Allow the top 
inch to dry off before watering again.

* Pests and Diseases:
Early detection and prevention keep these problems under 
control. While good things come in threes, so do bad. Since 
aphids are mainly a spring pest, the "Big Three" summer 
pests are thrips, spider mites, and in the eastern and 
southern United States, Japanese Beetles.
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Planting for Wildlife
By Terry L. Yockey
When I first moved into my previous home 19 years ago, my 
small backyard was a tangled mess of weeds and overgrown 
bushes and trees! Although there had been many previous 
owners, most had not had the time nor the desire to try and 
domesticate it. Even with all these faults, I loved it! I 
liked the untamed feel and especially all the birds and 
wildlife (chipmunks, rabbits and squirrels) that lived 
Keeping all the positives and yet also having my herb and 
flower garden, was my first priority. I began to research 
what was needed to have a backyard that would be a home to 
many birds and animals. I found out that there is a program 
through the National Wildlife Federation in which you can 
become certified by meeting their requirements. I sent for 
the information packet which gives the titles of several 
helpful books, I applied, and was eventually accepted and 
given a certificate which designates the backyard as habitat 
no. 5391.

One of the most important and also one of the easiest 
requirements is water. Most people have put out a bird bath 
as a lawn decoration at one time or the other. Bird baths 
should be placed within 5 or 6 feet of a tree or shrub, so 
that birds will have a place to fly to in case of danger. It 
also makes them feel much more secure when they are bathing. 
It's very important to change the water daily. We also put a 
small pond and waterfall in a few years ago, which has proven 
to be a great attraction to many species of birds. Birds need 
water during the winter as well as the summer. It takes a 
considerable amount of a birds body heat to convert snow into 
drink. I use a specially designed immersion heater to keep 
the water in the bird bath from freezing.

The second prerequisite is a food supply. We all are 
acquainted with the multitude of bird feeders on the market, 
but many shrubs, trees, flowers and herbs, are also good 
food sources. My favorite tree is the mountain ash. It has 
beautiful orange berries in the fall which are very popular 
with cedar waxwings, cardinals, bluebirds, robins, and many 
other birds. In the Spring when the orioles and hummingbirds 
come back, I make sure the feeders are out early, but the 
flowering crabapples are always more attractive.

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The hummingbirds especially like the brighter flowers like 
red bee balm, coral bells, honeysuckle and daylilies. I grow 
swiss chard in the summer which is a big favorite of the 
finches along with the seeds of the herb lovage. Some other 
good plantings are russian olive, dogwood, and pine trees. 
The winterberry, viburnums, and serviceberry are all shrubs 
which have berries for the birds to eat all winter. The 
wonderful thing is that most of these trees and shrubs are 
also beautiful plants for the home landscape.

To supplement the berries and other natural foods I also 
have several types of bird feeders. I've found that each 
type of bird has a favorite feeder. One of the most popular 
is the suet feeder. Chicadees, nuthatches, blue jays and 
especially woodpeckers, frequent it all year round. During 
the summer months, I only put out enough suet to last a day 
or it will go rancid in the heat. One of my favorite sights 
is watching the woodpeckers feeding their young from the 
suet feeder. The most popular seed for the other feeders is 
the small black oil sunflower seeds. The sparrows have to 
wait under the feeders for the other birds to crack them 
open and don't monopolize the feeders. 

Make sure you position your feeders where you can enjoy 
viewing the birds from your windows. I've found if you can't 
see them, your interest diminishes quickly and the feeders 
don't get filled! Don't be discouraged if you don't see 
birds at your new feeders right away. It may take a while 
for the birds to find them, but once they do they'll be 
regular visitors.

By all means, when picking out feeders, spend the extra 
money and buy ones the squirrels can't get into. I resisted 
buying them for years and spent much more replacing ruined 
feeders the squirrels had chewed through and seeds they 
gobbled for hours on end. The last requirement for making 
your backyard a year- round home for the birds, is shelter. 
Ideally, your backyard should be entirely surrounded with 


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The best cover is thick enough to keep out predators and the 
wind and snow of our long Minnesota winters. Our arborvitaes 
work very well and harbor many birds every winter. The blue 
spruce trees are a favorite nesting place each Spring. One 
Spring we had a cardinal, 2 robins, redpolls, and some 
sparrows, all nesting at the same time!

A problem for many birds such as woodpeckers and chickadees 
is that they are cavity nesters. They require a hole in a 
decaying or hollow tree to build their nest. Since most of 
us don't want to leave a dead tree in our yard, we can help 
them by putting out bird houses. Make sure the houses are 
out early in the Spring when the birds are scouting out 
their nesting spots. Each bird species has special require-
ments such as hole size and location of the house. The best 
way to provide the correct shelter is to go to the library 
and research the needs of the bird you are interested in 

All birdhouses need to be cleaned well after each nesting. 
There are many parasites that stay in the houses and prey on
the baby birds that are born the next year.

There are many reasons to make your yard a home for the 
birds. Did you know that even hummingbirds supplement their 
diet with insects? So the next time you are at the nursery 
buying a flower, a tree or a shrub for your yard, why not
 choose one for the birds and butterflies!

           GopherCentral's Question of the Week   

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