The Joys of Gardening for Wildlife

My garden has gone wild.

wildlife garden ontario

Red bee balm is one of the stars of the summer wildlife garden

That’s on purpose.  Gardening for wildlife is so much fun.  Pick some native flowers, shrubs, and trees.  Add in some your favourite flowers that have lots of pollen and nectar, and enjoy the show.

wildlife gardening ontario

Plant coneflowers and black eyed susans for their seed, and bee balm for its pollen and nectar

Even though we had the worst drought in years this summer, my garden is going strong. Native plants are tough, even if they can’t get watered regularly.  When I first thought of making my garden, I planned it to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.    It does!   But I have discovered a whole lot more about all the different creatures who benefit from having a wild garden like I have created.

wildlife gardening ontario

Jewelweed and loosestrife  by the creek

We’ve allowed the edges of our property to go wild, and stopped cutting grass down by the creek.    This time of year the wildflowers are covered in pollinators, and the seeds from the weeds are being devoured by birds.

wildlife garden ontario

American Goldfinches use thistle seeds for their nests, and they eat them too.

I love watching the American Goldfinches flying all over our property this time of year.

wildlife garden

lounging painted turtle

Turtles love the rocks and long grass.   I love their exquisite patterns.



Prince Hummingbird on his zinnia throne

Hummingbirds are the bosses of my wildlife garden.   They love the zinnias I have planted.

wildlife gardening

Hummingbird zoning in on some bee balm

Zinnias aside, their absolute favourite flower is bee balm (monarda) which blooms steadily for over 2 months.   Once the bee balm comes out, I put away my sugar and water hummingbird feeders.   Unnecessary.


Hummingbird moth

The tiny hummingbird moth looks and acts like a hummingbird- it loves the bee balm too.


Honeybee on anenome

Our honeybees have their favourite flowers too.   This varies throughout the summer, but right now they are all over the anenomes, which are loaded with pollen.


syrphid fly on wild aster

Bee mimics like this syrphid fly are around most of the summer as well.


Monarch on monk’s hood

When I step outside on a sunny day from May until October, there are always butterflies in my garden.   They make the garden come alive as they flit around with their different shapes, sizes and colours.



Butterflies love the purple coneflowers, the sedum, and the bee balm as well.


Philadelphia vireo in an apple tree

Migration season is on right now, and I have had lots of little visitors around the wild edges of my garden.


Red eyed vireo

They are stopping by for a meal of insects on their way south.   Native plants host far more insects that are eaten by birds than non-native plants.


Black throated green warbler

A whole flock of little warblers was eating insects from my birch tree the other morning.


Nashville warbler hiding in the goldenrod

I’ve started to let goldenrod grow right in my flowerbeds.    I notice some nurseries are even selling it.    The more we can plant species of plants that support the local wildlife in the area, the more wildlife friendly our gardens will be.


Gray tree frog

You never know who might stop by.


For more on wildlife gardening, see my blog:  The Number One Flower for Attracting Just About Everything

To check out a comprehensive planning checklist from Ontario Nature look here.

Happy gardening!





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