Gardens are great places to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature.  Whether you enjoy getting your hands dirty or just taking in the loveliness, your garden is a place where you love to spend your time.  While some animals like rabbits and groundhogs are unwelcome pests in your sanctuary, others are welcome guests.  Birds, amphibians and butterflies living in and around your garden make it an even more spectacular piece of nature right in your own yard.  [image via Christian Meyn @ freedigitalphotos]

Having a pond in your garden will encourage amphibians such as frogs and toads to live in your garden.  Almost any medium to large size pond can become home to frogs and toads.  Sloped sides will make it easier for them to get in and out of the pond, as they don’t spend their entire life in water.  During the winter, amphibians live outside of the water, so it’s good to have places for them to hide.  They like to be under logs, under stones, and in piles of dead leaves.  In the spring, frogs and toads will spawn.  There will be thousands of young in the spring, but most of them will not survive, especially if you have fish in the pond as well.

Hummingbirds are beautiful creatures to observe.  They are attracted to colorful flowers and bright colors.  You can set up a hummingbird feeder to get their attention (filling with brightly colored red sugar water) and keep them in your garden with trees and shrubs like the crabapple, lilac, rosemary, elderberry, and bush honeysuckle.   The hummingbirds will eat from the nectar of the flowers and take any other nourishment they need from insects found in the garden.

Attracting other types of birds is quite easy.  Birds need shelter, which can be in the form of tall trees where they can build their nests or provide them with bird boxes where they can live.  Have plants that provide food for the birds, such as berries.  You can also supply them with bird food to supplement the natural sources.  Bird baths are an attractive addition to any garden.

Brightly colored flowers such as the cala lily, lavender, crocosmias, and butterfly bushes attract butterflies to your garden.  Most butterflies only lay their eggs on a specific type of plant.  For example, monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed plants.  Planting the plants that butterflies use to lay their eggs will keep them in your garden.  Having plants that are tasty to caterpillars will allow you to watch their growth from eggs to larvae to butterflies.  Butterflies feed from the nectar of flowers.  They can also feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, and pollen.  They get their water from mud or wet gravel.

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