For those of us with small landscapes, dwarf cultivars of native plants can seem like a gift from heaven. Want to grow a particular native plant, but just don’t have the room? Have a straight species plant, like a native viburnum, that needs a pollinator partner for fruit production – but you just can’t squeeze another large viburnum in your landscape? Dwarf cultivars seem to satisfy that plant need, and for many of us – that plant lust – when we want a certain plant that we just can’t have….
If you aren’t seeing a wide variety of different pollinators in your landscape, it’s likely time to ramp up your plant diversity. Flowering plants have developed a number of traits to attract specific pollinators. Not all pollinators are attracted to, or can utilize, the same type of flowers.
Overall plant features such as flowering time, density of flowers, number of flowers, flower height, and spatial pattern of flowers can influence which pollinators will use a given plant. A pollinator’s body size, strength and tongue length also determine which plants can be accessed by which pollinators. Long-tongued bees and hummingbirds are adapted to plants with long, tubular flowers while shorter-tongued pollinators, like hover flies and European honey bees, require plants with more open flower structures.
I first heard about Kim Eierman’s book The Pollinator Victory Garden at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. While Eierman could not have predicted that the release of her book would coincide with a pandemic, the timing is particularly appropriate as more people are finding time to work in and enjoy their yards and gardens. Just as each person has their own role in helping slow the pandemic, each of us can play a part in supporting pollinators. While masks and hand sanitizers are important tools for the former goal, The Pollinator Victory Garden is a guide for the latter, inviting us to gain back some control of our environment and to do something beneficial during this unprecedented time.
I have a pollinator friendly garden in Maryland and I see very few pollinators this year. No butterflies. Only bumble bees. Have you noticed the same?
Things are not good for pollinators this year in the Northeast. I have seen relatively few pollinators and virtually no butterflies. I am getting similar reports from numerous people in various states in the Northeast from Massachusetts to Washington DC.
It’s hard to say exactly what is happening this year, beyond the ongoing insect apocalypse!…
“Interview with Farmer Fred” May 20, 2020
Houston Chronicle “Your Houston garden needs native bees. Here’s the buzz” May 21, 2020
Organic Hudson Valley Magazine, “Excerpt from The Pollinator Victory Garden” April 25, 2020
National Garden Bureau, “Excerpt from The Pollinator Victory Garden” April 22, 2020
Digging Cool Gardens in a Hot Climate, “Read This: The Pollinator Victory Garden” April 22, 2020