Wild Bird Garden Kit
A garden kit is a collection of plants pre-selected by our nursery to meet a certain purpose. Garden kits are designed to make gardening goals easy. They can be used as a quick way to start gardening native without having to research all 100+ plants in our nursery. They come pre-arranged in the tray so you can plant them just as they are for an instant garden design, with tall plants in the back and short, showy plants in the front. Or, since each plant is labeled with plant name and height, you can arrange them to suit your space.
Our Wild Bird Garden Kit provides natural food, nest material, hummingbird nectar, and shelter based on Audubon native plant recommendations for UP birds.
Native plants provide food for birds in two different ways; either directly, through nectar, berries, or seeds; or indirectly, as hosts for insects in the summer when birds are raising their broods. Most birds feed their young insects because they are nutritious and help nestlings grow fast. Caterpillars are favored because they are soft, easy to feed, easy to catch, contain the right nutrients for baby birds (low in chitin, high in carotenoids), and are readily available in a variety of sizes during nesting season. The native plants on this list provide both direct food for birds, in the form of nectar (for hummingbirds), berries, or seeds, and indirect food by serving as food for insects.
The plants included for seed have a variety of forms for many different feeding styles, from grosbeaks to finches. The kit also includes a native grass, our first choices are Switch Grass or Little Bluestem. Native grasses are great host plants and provide a lot of insects for birds to eat and feed to their broods during spring and summer, and they form sturdy clumps that hold seeds above the snow for winter feeding. Clumping grasses also offer shelter for ground birds like grouse, and some solitary bees will use the bare soil at the base of native grasses to dig a small nest chamber. Whether the bee nests successfully or the birds eat the bee or its larvae, nature scores a win. In addition, birds such as Orioles favor stripping the bark from milkweeds for nesting material, while studies have shown that nests incorporating Yarrow deter parasitic insects.
The Wild Bird Garden Kit is designed for average garden soil and full to part sun. It will contain 2 to 5 of each species (less of the bigger plants and more of the little ones). A typical kit would contain the following mix of plants, but one way we keep the per plant costs low on garden kits is by reserving the right to substitute plants based on our current inventory. Your kit is likely to differ from the list below in exact species, however, the plants included will meet the stated goals of the kit, in this case, nectar, seeds, berries, nest materials, and/or insect habitat for prey insects to support wild birds. If you need specific plants for your garden goals, consider supplementing your garden kit with quarts:
- Early Sunflower or Tall Sunflower - seeds and insect host plant,
- Cutleaf Coneflower - seeds and insect host plant,
- New England Aster or other aster - seeds and insect host plant,
- Cardinal Flower or Liatris - nectar for hummingbirds,
- Bergamot or Turtlehead - nectar plant and insect host plant,
- Evening Primrose - long-season nectar, seeds, insects,
- Common Yarrow - seeds, insects, nest material,
- Gray Goldenrod or other goldenrod - seeds and excellent insect plant (non-allergenic),
- Boneset - seeds and insects,
- Switch Grass or Little Bluestem - seeds, insects, nest material, and shelter,
- Columbine or Hairy Beardtongue - early nectar plant, insects,
- Harebell or Self Heal - nectar and seeds,
- Wild Strawberry or Common Violet - berries, insects.
If substitutions are necessary, they may include Swamp Milkweed, Fireweed, Paleleaf Sunflower, Prairie Dock, Purple Coneflower, Pale Purple Coneflower, Western Sunflower, Sideoats Grama, Indian Grass, Prairie Dropseed, Big Bluestem, Black-eyed Susan, Lanceleaf Coreopsis, or others. These plants are also recommended if you wish to expand your Bird garden.
This economical kit includes 38 plant plugs that fill 38 square feet at 1-foot spacing - a 4'x9.5' bed; or up to 86 square feet at 1.5 sq. ft. spacing - a 6'x14' bed. If you need to buy two kits to fill your space, check out our "buy one, get the second identical kit for 25% off" deal.
Each kit comes with a planting guide as well as instructions for placing a perch and creating a bird bath. The plants are individually tagged for identification and all tags include height so you can alter the layout to suit your space.
Supersize your habitat!
Now you can purchase your kit with a Black Elderberry in a gallon pot. Black Elderberry forms a 5 to 12-foot tall thicket that provides excellent bird cover, and the large clusters of berries (up to 10 inches wide!) are the favorite food of many bird species, including Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, and too many others to list here (see more at https://illinoiswildflowers.info/plant_animals/plants/sambucus_canadensis.html)