The Gardeners Eye

Observations of our garden ecology by:

Valley View Designer Jim Kenyon

Volume #1-Pests or Guests?


When we introduce new plants into the landscape, we change the balance of the local ecology, for good or ill. Planting Hosta will attract white tailed deer, which is good for the deer, but not the Hosta. Sometimes the benefits of our plant choices can go unnoticed, when a plant attracts beneficial wildlife in a subtle way.

Birch trees, like Heritage Birch, (Betula Nigra) or paper birch, (Betula papyrifera) are planted for winter interest, privacy, and to beautify the landscape. People are not alone in our fondness for Birch trees.

They also bring a variety of wild birds, like American Goldfinches in the spring, who eat the Beta-Carotene rich catkins, which increase the bright colors of the males, giving them an advantage over their competitors. The beauty of the trees is enhanced by the lively presence of these lovely birds. I also allow some grazing by the caterpillars of the Polyphemus moth, which cause no lasting damage to the Birch, but result in stunning silk moths in the garden during summer evenings. Our gardens are attractive to many other organisms, not all of them are nuisances to be eradicated, but welcome additions to our backyard ecology.