Cute Overload That Matters: Kids & Wildlife

I’ve never been afraid of spiders since I read Charlotte’s Web as a kid.

spider web central texas garden

In fact, I veer around their intricate knitting so I don’t mess it up. Selfishly I hope the spiders mess it up themselves with a few leaf-footed bugs after my tomatoes!

I’m not afraid to plant out-of-control plants, like Zexmenia (Wedelia texana), because they attract so many pollinators and are a larval host for Bordered Patch butterflies. As we head back into triple digit drought, the wildlife depend on us more than ever.

Bordered Patch butterfly on zexmenia Wedelia texana zexmenia Wedelia texana butterfly host

Even though mine are a tad nuts in the curb bed, I’m controlling with a light hand, since small birds huddle in the density to munch seeds on bygone flowers.

Ditto for coneflowers: butterflies, bees, and others enjoy the nectar. It’s so tempting to cut them back to tidy up, except when I see finches swaying on the stems to snag the seeds.

Coneflower and 'Powis Castle' artemisia

Go a little wild with the kids, too! Master Naturalist and Great Stems blogger Meredith O’Reilly joins Tom this week with easy fun wildlife and outdoor projects for kids of all ages.

Meredith O'Reilly Great Stems

Keep the kids busy all afternoon turning milk jugs into bird feeders and houses, while connecting them to the concept of nurturing wildlife.

Milk jug bird feeder Meredith O'Reilly Great Stems

Meredith shows how to make your own Mason bee house. Or go for a full-service Insect Hotel! I plan to do this one, too. Hey, I said “kids” of all ages, didn’t I?

Insect hotel project Meredith O'Reilly Great Stems

At Great Stems, her fabulous wildlife discovery blog, get Meredith’s detailed instructions for DIY wildlife projects for the whole family.

Here’s one of the projects she brought and actually gave me!

homemade bunny wildflower seed card Meredith O'Reilly Great Stems

Forever, I will treasure the 8-year-old who made this wildflower seeds card to plant. I’ve never met her, but she’s changed my life forever. I’m not planting it—I’m framing it!

wildflower seed bunny card Meredith O'Reilly Great Stems

Another “Aww” picture comes from Debra Shaw as Viewer Pic of the Week.

wrens in front door wreath debra shaw Central Texas Gardener

When a Carolina wren made her nest in the front door wreath, the Shaws were most careful about waking the babies. Now that the “kids” are gone, Debra’s going through empty nest syndrome. Probably not for long, since the Wren family likes the Shaw’s “insurance” coverage.

More cuteness from CTG’s friend Matt Jackson, getting some help this spring with his own little “nestlings.” Matt’s a “techie” who gives me lots of  advice, but he and his wife also want their kids to be connected to the offline  world  in their ever-growing garden.

Kids planting seeds with dad Matt Jackson

Here’s something fun the kids can spy on the undersides of ferns: spores.

fern spores Heidi Schaub Central Texas Gardener

Thanks to Heidi Schaub for Daphne’s question this week. Get her answer on what those spores are doing.

Kids also get a kick out of growing their own organic vegetables and popping them right into their mouths! If you’ve got extras,Trisha shows how to freeze and dry food and herbs for healthy meals (or camping trips) all year long. Here’s a link to her tips.

Freeze and dry food and herbs Trisha Shirey

On tour, arts supporter Helen Roberts wanted a garden of discovery for children and local artists. Touch o’ Green Landscapes designer Bridget Lane wrangled overwhelming invasives to paint just the right picture.

Thanks for stopping by! Until next week, read Charlotte’s Web again!