Even small patches of natives bring pleasant surprises. (See below for Midwest resources and click here for a previous article about favorite Midwest native plants). One of my best walks here in Redlands CA takes me by some mature sections of chaparral and sage scrub that some owners left on their adjoining properties. I love the number of birds, raptors and other critters that are drawn to the native habitat - here are some photos from my last two walks.
In the Midwest where I visit family, I have an odd first impression of Chicago’s Millennium Park. I was struck most on my first visit by a patch of prairie plants featured in one of the huge planters - covered with bees and an assortment of colorful butterflies. “Where the heck did these come from in downtown Chicago?” I wondered….
(These are recommendations from Susan Damon from the Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources, who I’m told has an amazing yard in St. Paul MN, “the whole yard is prairie plants and she has a HUGE diversity of insects and birds travelling through….” according to her colleague Melissa Driscoll)
- Bringing Nature Home, by Douglas Tallamy, Professor and Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the U of Delaware. (Main focus is moth and butterfly caterpillars, the primary food source for migrating and breeding birds.)
- Booklet on the insect-attracting properties of plants native to Minnesota (many of them prairie plants), based on Tallamy’s research. www.saintpaulaudubon.org/sites/default/files/GoNativeBooklet.pdf
- Birdscaping in the Midwest, a book by Mariette Nowak, contains a bibliography with research about bird-attracting properties of native plants of the Midwest (including prairie plants).
- Check your state for native plant societies and prairie restoration programs, for example, the Minnesota Prairie Restoration program
- Other organizations: Wild Ones and Monarch Watch