Wildlife Garden

Blue Flag Iris
Iris versicolor

 

  • Our native Iris —Blue Flag adds a bolt of deep blue in May.
  • It is dependent on hummingbirds that, when feeding on the nectar, inadvertently collect pollen and spread it around to other plants, thus helping with reproduction of the iris.

 

Rose Mallow
Hibiscus

 

  • There are two varieties of Hibiscus in this garden.
  • Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moschuetos) has a white flower with a red center and green leaves.
  • Midnight Marvel is a hybrid of several native hibiscus species. It has a red flower and reddish leaves.
  • Swamp Rose Mallow naturally occurs in the marshes nearby but also does well in the garden.
  • Both provide nectar for hummingbirds.

 

Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa

 

  • These bright orange flowers attract butterflies, like the Zebra Swallowtail in the photo.
  • Butterfly Weed is a member of the milkweed family. Milkweeds are extremely important to Monarch Butterflies because they are the only plants the Monarch caterpillar will eat.
  • The smaller photo shows a Monarch Butterfly taking nectar from Common Milkweed, a relative of Butterfly Weed.
  • Milkweeds produce chemicals (cardenolides) that protect their leaves by making them distasteful or even toxic to herbivores, for example, caterpillars. The Monarch Butterfly, however, can detoxify the cardenolides. So their caterpillars specialize and eat only milkweeds. That affords them protection from predators because they too are distasteful.  Unfortunately, this dependency has led to their decline because milkweeds have been systematically removed from the landscape in the US.  And Monarchs need all the support they can get because they migrate long distances and then find their winter habitat diminished due to logging.

 

Joe Pye Weed
Eutrochium dubium

 

  • Joe Pye Weed is like a butterfly magnet—a native version of the famous Butterfly Bush.
  • It is a host to the Delaware Skipper, which means that the caterpillar relies on Joe Pye Weed for food.

 

Husker Red Penstemon

 

  • This hybrid Penstemon has burgundy colored foliage year-round.
  • Tall spikes of white or pink tubular flowers form in the spring, followed by interesting seed pods.
  • It attracts hummingbirds and bees.

 

Blanket Flower, Mesa Yellow
Gaillardia

 

  • Blanket flower is a low growing, clumping perennial.
  • It produces lots of nectar to attracts butterflies and other pollinators.
  • It is a horticultural hybrid of Gaillardia species, native flowers that once carpeted the North American prairies. Because there were huge displays covering the landscape, the species became known as called “blanket” flower.

 

Virginia Sweetspire
Itea virginica

 

  • Virginia Sweetspire provides interest in the garden all year.
  • Besides producing sweetly scented creamy white flowers in the spring, Sweetsprire leaves turn deep crimson in the fall and the arching branches are red in the winter.
  • The flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators.

 

Little Blue Stem and Yarrow

 

  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a native plant with gray-green lacy foliage and yellow or white flowers that look a bit like Queen Anne’s Lace. It has been recognized by pollination ecologists for its ability to attract large numbers of native bees.
  • Little Blue Stem grass or Schizachyrium scoparium is a native grass that has blue-green stems in the spring, reddish-brown leaves in the summer and mahogany red seed heads with white tufts that provide nesting material for birds.

 

Black Gum or Black Tupelo
Nyssa sylvatica

 

  • Thrushes, mockingbirds, woodpeckers, tanagers, and waxwings all flock to the Blackgum from August through October to vie over its small, nutritious, berry-like stone fruits. Its greenish white flowers are also a nectar source for native insects.
  • As summer fades to fall, Blackgum trees burst in color, morphing from shiny green to yellow, orange, and especially red or purple in just a matter of weeks. All these colors can be present on the tree at one time!
  • Blackgum is one of NC Audubon’s 2017 Bird-Friendly Native Plants of the Year.

 

Coastal Live Oak
Quercus virginiana

 

  • Live oaks are iconic to Virginia Beach.
  • Many long-time residents of the area remember the property here being covered in live oaks.
  • These slow growing trees provide shelter and food (acorns) for birds and squirrels. Live oaks also serve as hosts to the White Hairsteak butterfly.