The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has certified the Anita Purves Nature Center’s Habitat Garden.
The NWF certification celebrates effort to create a garden that supports birds, butterflies, bees, frogs and other local wildlife.
Every Certified Wildlife Habitat garden provides natural sources of food, water, cover and places to raise young and is maintained in a sustainable way that incorporates native plants, conserves water and doesn’t rely on pesticides.
Judy Miller, Environmental Program Manager, commented, "This project provides a complete habitat for area wildlife many of which visitors watch from our observation room windows. The garden draws birds, insects and frogs. We planted native species including blue bells, butterfly milkweed, jack in the pulpit and spiderwort. The garden completes the Gateway Trail that takes visitors from the built environmental and into Busey Woods’ trails and natural areas."
The new habitat garden features a matrix planting of native sedges in the center of the garden. Sedges are a grass-like groundcover that don’t grow very tall and provide for unobstructed bird watching in the bird feeding areas. Surrounding the sedge matrix, native wildflower and grass species were selected based upon their wildlife habitat value and seasonal blooming interest—these too were limited to those with a low growth habit to facilitate bird watching. Between the feeding area and the bird observation room is the newly constructed water feature. The addition of the water feature with its varied depths and flow rates helps to attract a wide array of bird species. The new habitat garden was made possible by the financial support of the Champaign County Audubon Society. Design and installation were assisted by East Central Illinois Master Naturalists.
Anita Purves Nature Center has the NWF certificate on display and will soon display a plaque near the garden.
The NWF encourages everyone to create a certified Wildlife Habitat Garden as part of the Million Pollinator Challenge – a program to create natural habitats that attract pollinator insects like bees and butterflies.
Miller concluded, "We loved making the Habitat Garden. And, we love seeing native plantings and species flourish. We hope many people come see our garden in the future."