Category Archives: Pollinator Gardens

Powerful pollinator magnets – design with native perennials for fall bloom

MA native bees on native asters Foxboro

Native asters and goldenrod attract native bees at Foxborough Conservation Commission’s Lane Learning Center

Plant Goldenrods and Asters to Support Pollinators in Late Summer

According to the National Wildlife Federation, native asters like New England (Aster novae-angliae), New York (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii), smooth (Aster laevis), white wood (Aster divaricatus) and other woodland asters support the entire life cycles of over 110 species of butterflies and moths, so it you want a pollinator garden, these are must-haves. And the good news is that it’s ragweed rather then goldenrod that causes so many allergies in late summer, so plant away!

Goldenrods such as zig-zag (Solidago flexicaulis), showy (Solidago speciosa), seaside (Solidago sempervirens), and anise-scented (Solidago odora) species are the top champions of supporting the entire life cycles of butterflies and moths in New England, supporting 110 species in eastern MA.

More good news is that there are asters and goldenrods that do well in shady and dry conditions, so don’t worry if you’ve not much sun – so get out there and help pollinators by planting the plants they depend upon for their very existence.

What plants are best for native bees?

Obviously they like goldenrods and asters as pictured above, but even better are native roses, like Carolina (Rosa caroliniana), Virginia (Rosa virginiana), swamp rose (Rosa palustris) and shining (Rosa nitida), plus flowering raspberry (Rubus odorous). As always, before purchasing plants, know your site’s cultural conditions – like sun/shade, soil texture and drainage – and select the best species for your conditions so your investment has the best chance of thriving.

Birds and other animals will thank you for providing habit – like food, shelter and nesting sites – that looks so satisfying to you!

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My Favorite Things – Harper, Goldenrod and Rockport, MA

Old Garden Beach goldenrod Rockport, dog

My favorite things include my pup, Harper, native seaside goldenrod for pollinators, and Rockport, MA, shown here at the park above Old Garden Beach in Rockport. Sorry, Harper, the goldenrod is in focus and your are a prop. Good boy!

Join me in attracting butterflies, birds and native bees to your garden:

Top 5 reasons to include goldenrod in your butterfly garden:

  1. 125 species of butterflies and moths lay their eggs on goldenrod in eastern MA, more than any other herbaceous perennial, and if you want to have butterflies, you must welcome their caterpillars and provide them something very specific to eat as soon as their eggs hatch. The female adult butterflies lay their eggs on the plants that they know will feed their young.
  2. Many people think native plants like goldenrod will take over a garden, but some species of goldenrod are well-behaved clumping varieties that do not spread into colonies.
  3. Adult butterflies depend on nectar from late summer and fall blooming plants to provide nectar for food, and goldenrods are nectar-rich and have a long bloom period. This includes migrating species like the popular monarch, Danaus plexippus, in the Nymphalidae family.
  4. Native bees also need pollen for food, and goldenrods are an ideal source late in the growing season.
  5. The more caterpillars and adult butterflies you have, the more birds you’ll have, and the more diverse will be the wildlife in your garden.
  6. BONUS: Ragweed, rather than goldenrod, is the major culprit of seasonal fall allergies. Ragweed is wind-pollinated, and plants that are wind-pollinated make way more pollen than animal-pollinated plants. Butterflies, moths, bees, and birds are some of the animals that pollinate plants.

Thank you for reading this, and happy habitat gardening!

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Turn Your Lawn in Pollinator Gardens and Wildlife Habitat

Check out our progress on the turf-to-habitat project in Seekonk, MA, like it if you like it and subscribe it you want to know more about native plant design and consulting in SE MA.

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FULFILL THE DREAM OF CREATING A POLLINATOR GARDEN

WHY NOT TURN YOU LAWN INTO A CERTIFIED HABITAT GARDEN FOR BUTTERFLIES, BEES, BIRDS?

Turning a lawn into certified pollinator habitat gardenWe’re helping a homeowner in Seekonk, MA fulfill her dream of turning most of her lawn into pollinator habitat. Collaborating through the iterative design, installation, and maintenance phases, the client herself has gotten earth under her fingernails and dirtied the knees of her jeans every step of the way.

In the 2020 season we designed and installed two crescent-shaped ornamental landscape beds for MA native trees, shrubs and perennials. In the spring of 2021 we’re expanding upon last year’s work by tying in a larger portion of the back yard lawn. Because we have time on our side before the arrival of native plant meadow kits from the Native Plant Trust, we’re using the sheet composting aka lasagna method of turning lawn into garden beds.

Using flags and garden hoses, we laid out the shape of the new planting area, tweaked it, then committed to it by laying down two layers of heavy cardboard that came from local bicycle and appliance stores. The cardboard keeps sunlight from the grass to keep it from growing.

On top of the cardboard we’ll be laying down high quality drip irrigation hoses, aka pipes, that will tie into the existing lawn irrigation system. The pop-up sprinkler heads of the zone where this section of pollinator bed is going were removed and capped to preserve water, water pressure, and associated financial costs. Continue reading

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GOT SPRING FEVER? HELP POLLINATORS THIS YEAR!

Pollinate New England Program in Wellesley Shows You How to Plan and Plant a Pollinator Garden

The Wellesley Natural Resources Commission hosted a live Pollinate New England program (pre-Covid) on the importance of using native plants to support New England’s bees, insects and other pollinators. Watch this video of the program to learn the actual steps of creating a pollinator habitat garden.

Learn how to design and create a pollinator garden

You’ll learn how to attract native butterflies and moths, birds and bees to your garden and

  • put the right native plants in the right places
  • design the spacing of your plants to maximize their potential, have good looks and reduce weeds
  • get your pollinator plants established with organic gardening practices, proper watering and care
  • use ecological mulching materials and learn their benefits, such as retaining soil moisture, moderating soil temperature, and reducing weeds

The goal of Pollinate New England is to teach and encourage homeowners to plant diverse, systemic pesticide-free native plants that support a wide variety of pollinators throughout their life cycles. It’s an initiate of the Native Plant Trust (formerly New England Wild Flower Society), which received an IMLS grant to create a network of pollinator gardens, collaborating with twelve partners throughout six states, supported by a suite of in-person and distance programs and resources.

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DAYLILY DIVING SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY

Female eastern swallowtail butterfly taking nectar from a daylily in Worcester, Vt

An eastern north america native female eastern tiger swallowtail butterrfly, Papilio glaucus, crawls deep into the flower cone of a daylily to drink nectar at a friend’s garden in Worcester, VT.

How fun to watch a swallowtail butterfly dive into a daylily for a drink of sweet nectar. On the way in its wings became streaked with pollen, which the butterfly then took to and pollinated a neighboring daylily in seeking more nectar.

No daylily is native to North America as thus their value to native pollinators is limited to providing food rather than providing food, ideal egg-laying sites and food for their caterpillars that would support this butterfly species’ entire life cycle. Most native butterlies and moths have just one type of plant that is the host plant for their entire life cycle.

Native plants support not just native butterflies, but also all living things in native ecosystems, including humans, which is just one reason to have a diversity of native plants on your property or property that you manage or care for.

While daylilies have good horticultural value as colorful flowers, native plants have both horticultural and ecological value in the landscape. There are many fine native plant substitutes for non-native plants, and I encourage you to explore the possibilities before investing in non-native plants that could take the place of high-performing native plants.

 

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Sharon Garden Club Flyer for September Garden Medley event

Sharon Garden Club Fall Fair – Save the Date – Sept 9

Hints of fall are in the air, and the Sharon Garden Club is celebrating on September 9th with our September Garden Medley fundraiser. Join us from 11-4 to explore the learning and fun at our two locations :

  • a horticultural guided garden tour (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • a Standard Flower Show (62 Bullard Street, Sharon)
  • an elegant boxed lunch in the garden (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • a garden shoppe (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • live folk music (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • artists at work (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • unique raffle items (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)

TICKETS are $30 in advance, $35 the day of the event. Get tickets from me (617-327-9254 or carol@garden-911.com) or lizsiem@comcast.net.

You’ll probably find me in a stall at the barn at 70 Maskwonicut Street, the stall converted into an art exhibit for pollinator-friendly plants and a jail for nasty butterfly-killing invasive ones. WANTED: native pollinator plants, alive; WANTED: dead invasive plants.

 

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Native plants + native bees = gardening success

Native bee on native bee balm or Monarda in Sharon, MA

A native bee harvests nectar from native bee balm, or Monarda, in a Sharon, MA perennial and pollinator garden.

My general idea of a successful organic garden is to plant the right native plant in the right place in the right plant and soil community and let nature have its way. Native plants thrive in our native soils, support the local ecosystem by helping our birds and bees thrive.

Just today in my backyard I observed a wren arriving at its birdhouse with a caterpillar and heard the choir of baby wrens competing with open mouths for that nutritious meal.

Think about it. Everything we eat was once a plant, and without insects such as caterpillars and bees, we’d have no plants and no food. So plant a native next time, and you’ll be doing yourself and your neighboring ecosystem a big favor.

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Best plants for honey bees include anise hyssop, rosemary, poppy, bee balm, catmint, coneflower, borage, and thyme.

Sharon Garden Club Hosts Beekeeper Barbara MacPhee’s “Gardens for Honeybees”

Best plants for honey bees include anise hyssop, rosemary, poppy, bee balm, catmint, coneflower, borage, and thyme.

Plant These For Bees, a display at the Sharon Garden Club by guest speaker and beekeeper Barbara MacPhee. Suggested flowers for pollinators include anise hyssop, rosemary, poppy, bee balm, catmint, coneflower, borage, and thyme. [Photo by Dixie Buckland]

Beekeeper Barbara MacPhee

Sharon Garden Club presenter and beekeeper Barbara MacPhee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun honey bee facts from Sharon Garden Club presenter and beekeeper Barbara MacPhee, at our February meeting:

  • Among honey bees, it’s the worker bees (who are all females) that you see (and hear) collecting nectar and pollen. The males, called drones, maintain the hives.
  • It takes 1,152 honey bees flying a distance of 112,000 miles, harvesting from 4.5 million flowers, to produce one pound of honey. Now that is impressive, ladies!
  • In early spring, bees need early-flowering plants like snowdrops, Claytonia and dandelions to support their hives. Forsythia, while a traditional feel-good sign of spring for humans, has zero pollen and zero nectar. Consider replacing one with a pollinator-friendly native shrub like redbud or viburnum.
  • Later in the season, agastache, clover (yes, in your lawn!) and borage, plus winterberry and American holly, are some of the other plants that honey bees favor.

And my two cents: Think about it: just about everything you and I eat was once a plant, most likely a flowering plant. No pollinators, no food. Are you hungry to support pollinators now?

Visit the Sharon Garden Club online

 

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