Wildlife gardening suits the lazy gardener, as untidiness is often to the benefit of wildlife; long grass left over winter feeds birds and shelters insects, and unpruned shrubs provide good nesting and roosting sites. Ideally, a wildlife garden should be managed to provide balance between being decorative and offering good habitat diversity. It is important that native tree, shrub and wildflower species are predominate in wildlife-oriented gardens.
Oaks are long-lived shade trees and are some of the finest trees for providing food and shelter to wildlife. They are seldom seen in home landscapes, as many of the species Oaks are too large for a modern suburban-size lot. A new variety of Oak, the ‘Regal Prince’, which is a hybrid of our native Swamp White Oak, and the Columnar English Oak, is a tall and narrow cultivar that fits nicely in the suburban landscape.
Because of its columnar form, ‘Regal Prince’ Oak is often planted to provide a formal look. Planted in rows its dense foliage creates a living screen for blocking unsightly views and muffling traffic sounds. In autumn, its acorns provide regular food for wood ducks, wild turkeys, blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers, raccoons and white-tailed deer. Returning migrants, such as warblers, vireos, and tanagers, also flock to the tree for the insects it harbors in spring.
‘Regal Prince’ Oak grows 50 feet tall and 25 feet wide. It tolerates a wide range of soils conditions, including both wetand dry soil, as well as road salts and soil compaction in urban areas.