"The world is so full of a number of things / I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."

Robert Louis Stevenson said this in his poem collection "A Child's Garden of Verses." It's a happy thing to build a garden which the small critters of the world find inviting. You can do several things to encourage birds, butterflies, frogs and other small creatures to visit and maybe take up residence in your garden.


The most important feature to provide for animals in your garden is water. Everyone needs it; some for only drinking, others for both drinking and bathing. One of the delights of a sunny afternoon is to watch bluejays splashing in your birdbath. They put on quite a show! Place your birdbath in a location close to a tree or large shrub where they can perch to dry off, but not too close to dense shrubbery where predators such as neighborhood cats might hide and pounce. In addition to birds, other small creatures such as butterflies, honeybees, dragonflies, squirrels and lizards will take a drink from your birdbath and are fun to watch as well. An easy way to provide water for smaller creatures is to place a pot saucer right on the ground or on a small stump and keep it filled. Place it in an open space for their protection.


Bird feeders will keep the birds coming all year long. If you don't like the mess of birdseed scattered about (and they are messy eaters!), purchase a few suet blocks and hang them from nearby trees. Woodpeckers especially love these treats. You can make them yourself by combining peanut butter with seeds and nuts, forming it into a ball and hanging it in an old mesh bag.

Who doesn't love watching butterflies flit from flower to flower? Some people plant dedicated "butterfly gardens," filled with the  colorful, nectar-filled blooms that these colorful insects like to feed on. If you plant an area of milkweed, for example, you might be lucky enough to see a caterpillar munch on the leaves until it's stuffed, form a chrysalis and after a few weeks emerge as a beautiful orange and black monarch butterfly. Other flowers to plant to attract butterflies include aster, calendula, cosmos, dahlia, daisy, all types of lilies, hollyhocks, snapdragon and verbena. Some garden centers sell mixes of seeds especially attractive to butterflies.


Make little shelters for frogs by overturning a few clay pots in shady corners of the garden. Prop up one edge of the pot on a stone to make a sort of entrance. Frogs are becoming scarcer in the world since the advent of climate change, so it's nice to encourage them to stay. On rainy days, you'll hear them calling to each other. Birds sometimes appreciate a little birdhouse decorated especially for them. Get children involved in painting bright, colorful birdhouses and hang them around your yard. It's also a good idea to leave a few of your shrubs wild and tangled; this provides all sorts of safe dwelling places for small creatures.

Make your garden a haven for the small creatures of the world and you will be rewarded with hours of enjoyment.

Credit: Patricia Rockwood