Wildlife Habitat Garden

Luther Burbank’s love for life went beyond developing and raising plants. He loved nature and the little creatures that he came upon during his daily work with his plants. This is evident even in the letter he sent back home to his sister in regards to Santa Rosa, “This is the chosen spot of all the earth as far as Nature is concerned”. He loved the bees and butterflies, tadpoles and frogs, birds and turtles and even said that any child who has been deprived of these, has been deprived of the best part of his education.

Here at Luther Burbank Home & Gardens we have planted a wildlife habitat in honor of Luther’s love for nature. It is visited by birds, butterflies, bees, frogs, squirrels and salamanders.

In planning a wildlife garden you must keep in mind that wild creatures have five requirements to assure their survival. These five needs are:  water, food, shelter from predators, shelter from the weather and a safe area for nesting and raising their young. By planting deciduous and evergreen shrubs and trees of various heights, vines, blooming plants and plants that produce berries or other kinds of fruits, you will have taken care of four of the necessary requirements leaving only a source of water. This can be as simple as a dish of water on the ground or as dramatic as a fountain with running water. The ideal bird bath should have gradually sloping sides and the deepest spot shouldn’t be more than three inches.

Organic gardening is the preferred method to use. It is much safer for you, your children and pets, and the birds and other creatures that are attracted to and take refuge in your yard. Many chemicals are non-selective in what they kill, which means you are potentially killing both the bad and the beneficial insects. Poisoned insects may get eaten by adults or be fed to babies which may mean an early death. Birds are an excellent natural insect control along with the frogs, toads, lizards and beetles that make their home in your natural yard.

Here at Luther Burbank’s garden, we have created a wildlife habitat that fulfills all five wildlife needs by using the plants listed below. There are many more plants that attract birds, but since our garden space was limited we had to be selective. We have indicated what these plants have to offer by using these abbreviations: F=food S=shelter N=nesting

Trees: These offer a canopy for shade, protection, nesting and food.

Walnut F,S,N Dogwood F,S,N Redwood F,S,N
Elderberry F,S,N Hawthorne F,S,N

Shrubs: These are ideal nesting spots and food sources.

Mahonia F,S,N Currant F,S Dogwood F,S,N

Annuals and Perennials: These plants add color and variation to any yard while offering food to birds.

Alyssum   F Foxglove F Scabiosa F
Bleeding Heart   F Goldenrod F Statice F
Coneflower   F Nicotiana F Zinnia F
Campanula   F Rosemary F,S

Hummingbirds are attracted to flowers for their nectar, although they also eat insects.

Ajuga F Coral Bells F Fuchsia F
Bee Balm F Columbine F Penstemon F
Ca. Fuchsia F

Backyard Birds Commonly Found in Sonoma County:

White-crowned Sparrow Pine Siskin Mourning Dove
Golden-crowned Sparrow Dark-eyed Junco Hummingbird
House Sparrow Scrub Jay Lesser Goldfinch
Song Sparrow Stellar Jay Plain Titmouse
Phoebe Chickadee Grosbeak
Purple Finch Nuthatch Bushtit
Goldfinch Towhee Woodpecker
Kinglet Mockingbird

Birdscaping Reference Books:

An Illustrated Guide to Attracting Birds by Sunset
National Audubon Society North American Birdfeeder Handbook by Robert Burton
The Naturalist’s Garden by Ruth Shaw Ernst
How to Attract Birds by Ortho Books