Ann Engelman, of 428 E. Sherman Ave. in Fort Atkinson, is this year’s winner of the improving your backyard for wildlife contest, sponsored by the Friends of Rose Lake.
Engelman is the recipient of a $100 gift certificate, given jointly by Blodgett’s Garden Center and the Friends of Rose Lake, and also has her name placed on a plaque found next to the Bird City plaque in the city council chambers. She competed this year with eight other participants.
“Wildlife” for backyards, in this contest, focuses mainly on birds and insects, especially pollinators. More and more of our population live in cities, and to have native plants in our yards, rather than just grass and non -native species, encourages butterflies and the many species of bees to visit.
Nearly 90 percent of plants depend on insects for pollination. These pollinators are declining for many reasons, including climate change, diseases and pesticides.
With the countryside primarily converted to monocultures, mostly beans and corn, these pollinators also have lost their habitat of plant diversity and grasslands. A coalition of gardening and other organizations is trying to inspire municipal and private properties to restore habitat in their yards.
Quoting a gardener from National Wildlife magazine, “Helping bees and their brethren can soothe the soul.” The gardener goes on, “Coming home to be amidst flowers, birds and butterflies makes me happy.”
Using native flowering plants such as coneflowers, milkweeds, Joe-Pye weed, asters and bee balm, has the yard teeming with bees and butterflies.
A recent study also has shown a dramatic decline in many bird species. Providing food, water and a safe place to raise their young in one’s yard can be very rewarding.
Participants are discouraged from having cats free to roam their yards. Millions of birds annually are killed by free-roaming cats.
The Friends of Rose Lake has encouraged participants this year by giving each a $25 coupon toward the purchase of native nonwoody and woody plants at Blodgett’s Garden Center. This local plant nursery has been very cooperative in this venture.
The annual contest is open to anyone residing in the School District of Fort Atkinson. Interested readers can pick up an entry form, along with helpful wildlife gardening tips, from Blodgett’s Garden Center in Fort Atkinson.