As a home gardener, one of your garden ideas may be to transform your backyard into a habitat garden -- a small haven for visiting wildlife. When you create a habitat garden, you'll be treated to the presence of a hummingbird, bluebird, or even a monarch butterfly. Birdsong and brightly colored butterflies not only add beauty to the environment, but they also make the garden seem more like a natural refuge.

When building your habitat garden, you'll do best to grow the fruits, berries, and flowers that make up the natural diet of the species you'd like to attract. Water is also a must, whether the source is a natural brook, a small fountain, or simply a birdbath.

It's also important to provide the wildlife with a secure environment by including plant and landscape elements that provide hiding and housing. This natural approach benefits the animals, as their normal behavior patterns and diet aren't changed by enjoying the resources of your habitat garden.

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Cultivated varieties of native wildflowers combine well with each other in this habitat garden. Aquilegia canadensis Corbet and Heuchera Montrose Ruby are, respectively, pale-flowered and purple-leaved forms of a plant that occurs naturally with red-and-yellow blooms and medium-green leaves. Phlox stolonifera Pink Ridge completes the picture for an area that is both lovely to look at and attractive to hummingbirds.

A butterfly garden flutters with beauty and color. Learn more about this habitat garden idea -- and view some beautiful photos -- on the next page.

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Butterfly Garden Ideas

If you love butterflies, consider creating a butterfly garden. Plant flowering plants -- your local nursery can suggest the native flowers that are favored by the butterflies in your region -- and you will be rewarded with visits from these colorful, lively creatures. The plants in your butterfly garden benefit the butterflies, too. The flowers provide both nectar and larval hosts for butterflies. The photos below will help inspire your own ideas for your butterfly garden.

Dahlias are not only beautiful, colorful flowers -- when planted in a habitat garden, they can attract peacock butterflies. Dahlias are multicolor annual flowers. Planting native flowers is not only good for your garden, it's good for the environment -- the plants offer food sources for the birds and butterflies whose natural food supplies may be scarce in built-up areas.

A careless-looking mix of grasses and perennial wildflowers provides both nectar and larval hosts for several species of butterfly in this butterfly garden. Butterflies seem to especially enjoy feeding from the multitude of tiny florets found in the center of compound daisy-like flowers; examples include these purple and white Echinacea purpurea coneflowers, gray-headed Ratibida pinnata coneflowers, and Rudbeckia hirta black-eyed Susans blooming here.

Flowers aren't the only colorful things in a butterfly garden. In this habitat garden, a monarch butterfly flocks to an orange lantana plant. The lantana plant is a full sun annual plant. Different butterfly species exhibit different meal preferences. Monarch butterflies seem to also love feeding on liatris, while wild lupines in sandy Eastern areas sometimes provide nectar for the rare Karner blue butterfly.

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A butterfly stops to take a sip of nectar from a few daylilies. Daylilies are popular multicolor perennial flowers and a great addition to a butterfly garden. A great idea for your butterfly garden is to plant a variety of native nectar plants in a border or bed. Do some research to find the best plants for the butterflies of your region -- butterflies are more likely to come and sample the nectar of familiar flowers that are a natural part of their habitat.

A wildlife garden combines environments to attract wildlife of many kinds. Learn more about this wonderful habitat garden idea in the next section.

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Wildlife Garden Ideas

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A wildlife garden incorporates several natural environmental elements -- woodland edges, ponds, flower gardens -- to attract wildlife of all kinds. A wildlife garden provides a habitat for the native wildlife in your region, and it also provides a beautiful, tranquil respite for people to enjoy. The photos below will you wonderful ideas you can use to start your wildlife garden.

A wildlife garden is a great garden idea for showcasing many environmental elements and attracting wildlife. In this wildlife garden, lily pads, water grasses, shrubs, trees, and Lotus flowers coexist beautifully with a pond, attracting a visit from a water bird. Ponds, whether natural or artificial, seem to develop their own ecosystems: Birds, butterflies, and even frogs come for the food provided by the flowers and insects that thrive near the water.

This beautiful wildlife garden combines three environments (woodland edge, garden border, and pond) into a site that is certain to attract wildlife of many kinds. Birds, butterflies, and small woodland mammals such as rabbits and chipmunks will find nectar, seeds, berries, water, and shelter in this New Jersey garden. The pond may also contain fish and amphibians and attract water birds, thus adding further to the wild population likely to enjoy this lovely spot.

A wildlife garden can also feature beautiful color and texture. This wildlife garden flourishes with rosebush and dahlia, popular multicolor annual flowers. Flowers can attract birds and butterflies to a wildlife garden, but houses, feeders, and birdbaths can also attract birds and add a lovely decorative note.

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A wildlife garden can also be a welcoming habitat for fish. In this wildlife garden, a pond framed by lush ferns and palms teems with Koi fish. A bridge over the pond adds a beautiful and practical architectural touch.

Woody wildflower gardens provide a beautiful, tranquil habitat for wildlife and for humans. Keep reading to find woody wildlife garden ideas and photos.

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Woody Wildflower Garden Ideas

Native wildflowers work in harmony with woodland elements -- ferns, shade trees, meadows, ponds -- to create lovely woody wildflower gardens that make wonderful wildlife habitats. Because many varieties of native wildflowers also thrive in shaded yards, a woody wildflower garden is a great idea for those less-than-sunny spots in your garden. The photos below will give you woody wildflower garden ideas you can explore.

A woody wildlflower garden captures the spirit of the wilderness in your own backyard. Here, poppies and cornflower thrive in a wildflower field. This type of woody wildflower garden provides a wonderful resting spot for wildlife and humans alike. Cornflower is a full sun annual plant, and poppy is a full sun perennial plant.

Wildlife habitats include the woodland as well as meadows and ponds. Shaded yards, where grass and flowers are reluctant to grow, are often considered a gardening problem, but planting shade-loving wildflowers in such an area will create the appearance of a woodland glade and turn a problem into an asset. The pink-and-white combination of Dicentra eximia fringed bleeding heart and Tiarella cordifolia foamflower makes a lovely display above the rich green of their leaves.

A woody wildflower garden provides a great opportunity to balance the bright, lively colors of wildflower blossoms with the lush green of woodland foliage. In this woody wildflower garden, black-eyed Susans dazzle with their contrast of colors.

Cultivated varieties of wildflowers often combine well with each other. In this woody wildflower garden, forget-me-nots and polyanthus combine to cover the ground with color. In a woody wildflower garden, plants and wildlife have a reciprocal relationship. The plants are a source of nectar and seed, and in return, the plants' blossoms are pollinated by the creatures that use them for food.

A habitat garden is a truly special way to enjoy the beauty of nature, and to help the environment in turn. Butterfly gardens, wildlife gardens, and woody wildflower gardens are wonderful, unique ideas for your own backyard.

On the next page, find out more about the flowers and plants that will enhance and beautify whatever garden you choose to grow.

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Plants for a Habitat Garden

Purple Coneflower's tall stalks make it ideal for a wildflower border.
Purple Coneflower's tall stalks make it ideal for a wildflower border.

Plants for a habitat garden serve the dual purpose of beautifying your home and offering a sanctuary to the wildlife of your choice. By carefully selecting the blossoms and berries in your garden, you can influence the species attracted to it.

Whether you prefer butterflies or bluebirds, monarchs or magpies, these plant profiles will help you choose the perfect mix of food and sanctuary to help your local bird and butterfly population thrive.

Arrowwood

This shrub, native to North America, produces flower clusters that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, as well as berries eaten by a variety of birds.

Aster, Michaelmas Daisy

A fall-blooming perennial, Michaelmas daisy adds a touch of pink, red, or lavender to your garden.

Bergamot, Bee Balm, Oswego Tea

Lilac-purple flowers are sure to entice hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees from midsummer to autumn.

Bloodroot

Named for the red sap in the underground stem, bloodroot is a very hardy wildflower, with white blossoms and large, scalloped leaves.

Butterfly Weed, Milkweed

The bright orange flowers of the butterfly weed are known for attracting butterflies -- they are a favored food source for swallowtails and monarchs alike.

Columbine

Columbine's sun-loving red-and-yellow flowers bring hummingbirds into your garden -- as a perennial, you'll see the beautiful birds and blossoms year after year.

Coneflower, Purple

In addition to being a lovely cut flower, the purple coneflower is frequently visited by butterflies and bees.

Flowering Onion

During the summer months, the rose-colored or white blossoms of the flowering onion draw in a plenitude of butterflies.

Gaillardia, Blanket Flower

With their red, orange, and yellow petals, blanket flowers provide a lovely backdrop for the butterflies they attract.

Garden Phlox

The star-shaped flowers of garden phlox bloom in spring, and add splashes of white, pink, blue, or lavender to your garden.

Geranium, Scented

Whether pink or lilac-white in color, scented geraniums are perfect for use in a perennial border.

Golden Alexanders

The yellow flowers that give this plant its name bloom during spring, and make a wonderful addition to a wildflower garden.

Goldenrod

A summer-blooming native of North America, goldenrod is a hardy plant that will provide beautiful yellow blossoms in full sun.

Lavatera, Rose Mallow

This perennial shrub grows in pink, red, rose, white, or bicolors from midsummer until early winter, and the darker colors are known to draw hummingbirds.

Lobelia

Hummingbirds love these scarlet, lance-shaped flowers, which bloom in summer's partial sun or shade.

Mayapple

Each spring, the mayapple's leaves grow out folded like an umbrella, bloom into a lovely white flower in summer, and bear rounded fruits in autumn.

Merrybells

Long, delicate bell-shaped flowers hang suspended from arched stems, preferring a woodland environment.

Prairie Coneflower

The mauve-pink flowers of the prairie coneflower can reach higher than five feet, and are frequently visited by bees and butterflies.

Primrose

Primrose's bright red to purple blossoms bloom in early summer, and make a dazzling addition to a wildflower collection.

Salvia, Meadow Sage

Hummingbirds and butterflies love the Midwestern meadow sage. Its flowers bloom late in summer, providing a stunning blue that is rare for the season.

Virginia Bluebells

An elegant wildflower, Virginia bluebells bloom a brilliant blue every spring, then die down by midsummer.

Wild Ginger

The heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger make for attractive ground cover, and its long-tailed, brown or reddish flowers arrive in early summer.

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