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Inspiration for Your Landscape from Huntley Meadows, Virginia (near Alexandria)

Huntley Meadows is a wildlife reserve that belongs to Fairfax County Parks. It is close to and easily accessible from Alexandria, VA.

You can go there to enjoy the natural flora and fauna and get ideas for our own space. It is possible for your own garden to be both a wildlife reserve and an elegant and beautiful space.

The primary elements that will attract wildlife are water, food, perches and cover.

To attract honey bees, provide fragrant flowers. To attract butterflies there are some milk weeds that are so attractive as to be "weeds" only in name. You can include them in your decorative planting and they will fit right in.

Wildlife also needs shelter. You can attract toads and other small amphibians with a damp wood pile, a mound of twigs or some upturned flower pots. Toads eat slugs and snails so in return for your hospitality will help reduce pests in your garden.

Hover flies, which are stripey like yellow jacket wasps but fly with straight bodies and hover around flowers, eat some of the insects that eat our plants. They enjoy marigolds and tagettes and are harmless to humans.

If building a bird feeder, try to make it inaccessible to squirrels and cats. Also make nesting boxes inaccessible to squirrels and cats. Birds can benefit from nesting boxes and bird feeders that have a perch a little way away. The birds will sit on the perch while deciding whether it is safe to approach the nesting box or feeder. Be careful not to provide cover for cats in areas where birds feed. A bird feeder should be set in a clearing so that birds that go to the ground to pick up fallen scraps will not be vulnerable to attack. This will increase the birds visiting your garden.

You can get your garden an official wildlife habitat sign from the National Wildlife Federation so that neighbors will know what you are up to and why you are making these choices in your garden.

Lost Creek Landscapes can help you design a garden that is suitable for wildlife and still looks elegant.

http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife/Certify-Your-Wildlife-Garden.aspx