Source: Sherman Publications

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National Wildlife Federation certifies local public gardens

by Susan Bromley

May 18, 2011

Lois Robbins and Rick McAvinchey with a sign that designates the Creekside Garden in Ortonville as a wildlife habitat. The Heritage Garden has also been deemed a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Photo provided.
Ortonville- Take a walk on the wild side.

Two gardens in the village are now certified wildlife habitats as defined by the National Wildlife Federation.

Heritage Garden, located next to the Old Town Hall, as well as Creekside Garden, a buffer behind the Old Mill, located alongside Kearsley Creek, were recognized as wildlife habitats by the NWF in March. In order to be certified, a property must meet the four basic needs all wildlife require: water, food for the wildlife, places to raise young, and cover.

"I'm very happy," said Lois Robbins, a member of the Native Landscape team that acquired the grant to establish the gardens, installed the plants, and now maintains them. "We've done everything we set out to do. We would like more opportunities to educate the public about why we are doing this. We hope to improve the signage for the plants, so people can identify specific plants and projects."

The Heritage Garden was planted in the spring of 2007. The garden and the buffer along the creek (Creekside Garden) were established with a five-year grant from the Farm Bureau that stipulated plants native to the area must be used. The grant required a water feature, and a fountain was installed last spring in Heritage Garden, which contains several varieties of black-eyed susans, sedge (a low, grass-like evergreen plant), native columbine, switchgrass, blue stem and potentilla.

The garden requires no watering, fertilizer or pesticides and is beneficial to wildlife including birds, butterflies, and insects. The garden was designed in keeping with the type of garden that would have been planted in the 1800s, giving it historical and environmental significance.

The National Wildlife Federation encourages the creation of wildlife habitats to help animals and conserve natural resources by reducing or eliminating the need for fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation water.