The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) recently recognized that Deb Silvers and Barry Juneau of 312 W. Cook Street in New London have successfully created a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
The urban program provides information to improve habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young.
NWF’s Certified Wildlife Program has been helping people take personal action on behalf of wildlife for more than 40 years. The program engages homeowners, businesses, schools, churches, parks and other institutions that want to make their communities wildlife friendly.
Silvers and Juneau moved to the corner lot of Cook and Wyman streets in February 2007, a year of deep snow.
“The house had been in foreclosure for nearly two years. Barry had to use a chain saw to cut through the privet bushes on the north side to get to the front door,” Silvers said.
She said they spent the first year inspecting and cleaning the grounds. With the existing plants and trees, they created a landscape/garden plan and began the work.
“Barry and I enjoy watching birds, butterflies, rabbits, even insects,” Silvers said.
In 2009, a Wyman Street sewer project took the street level down more than five feet. As a result, a stone wall was wrapped around two sides of the property. This project most likely weakened the roots of the large, tall pines on Wyman Street. The couple hired an arborist and dug bushes out of the lawn before the water lateral lines were installed.
In 2010, two mature trees in the back yard and two large pines facing Wyman Street were damaged by high winds that left the entire city with major storm cleanup. The trees had to come down. With this, all the spring bulbs, ground cover and shade gardens were gone.
Due to the summer storms, many homes lost their primary landscape. Residents had to be proactive and change their plantings from shade to sun.
The series of setbacks experienced by Silvers and Juneau did not sway the goal to create a place that benefitted not only themselves, but also nature and neighbors. As the eco system adapts to a natural disaster, what once was a shade garden now provides full sun for vegetables and plants in no-till raised bed gardens.
“We found the NWF’s Wildlife Habitat Program in 2012. Following the guidelines of the program, we have eliminated the need for chemicals and fertilizers by companion planting and using recycle materials for mulch and weed barriers.”
Using junk mail, cardboard and brown paper bags at the home, a no-weed, 100 percent recycle garden is accomplished. Sawdust disguises the recycled weed barrier and provides a cohesive look to the landscaping and garden.
The Silvers and Juneau household habitat includes a garden of native Wisconsin wildflowers and trees, a host of fruits and nuts, including strawberries, blueberries, grapes, black currants, pinecones, native berries, and several water sources, not only to attract but provide shelter throughout the year.
More than 100 bushes and trees and several different vines and arbors are included in the yard design.
“This year we had over 12 bird nests in our urban lot. Previously, our yard was not an attraction to nature or the community. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in the city, on a residential lot,” Silvers said.