Learning for the Critters
Give yourself and your family a quick lesson in creating wildlife habitat in your own backyard with a visit to this National Wildlife Federation Web site. Gardening to favor birds, bees, and other critters is the first step toward a more eco-friendly home environment. Like people, critters need a place to rest, nest, and hide, along with sources of food and water. With better habitat comes a greater diversity of wildlife, and with that, less need for pesticides in the garden.
Favorite or New Plant
Grow some from seed, or buy some plants, but don't miss zinnias this year. There are more varieties than ever to dazzle in the sunny garden. Mixes of colors and single shades, classic shapes and spikey cactus flowers, zinnias thrive in full sun where water is regularly available but soils are not particularly lush. Hold back on the mulch to help prevent soil-borne fungi from washing up onto the leaves, and give them elbow room so they get good air circulation. Renee Shepherd's Persian Carpet zinnias have lots of flowers marked in bold yellow and mahogany, and the Profusion series brings bright, solid colors.