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.
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)
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.
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.
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?
BIDDING ENDS AT 4 P.M. TODAY!
There’s magic in the air again this fall, as silky puffs burst out of butterfly weed follicles like bright white fireworks bursting out of a purse, each carrying what looks like an aged miniature copper penny that is actually a seed about to take flight.
I had the pleasure of volunteering with the URI Master Gardeners at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center Display Garden yesterday, weeding and edging beds (aka bed maintenance) just in time to spiff up for this weekend’s plant sale, URI Master Gardeners soil testing and info kiosk event, and the Botanical Center Conservancy Photography Contest Exhibition.
Even though I garden practically every day, I was in awe at the early fall colors in the Display Garden. Blooming plumes on grasses push back and forth in the wind, contrasted against stands of perennials, some in full bloom and full of pollinators, others done blooming but still beautiful with their fall-colored crayon foliage and seeds about to drop.
Enjoy a free, fun-filled, family oriented afternoon, and discover how you can make a difference for the next generation!
If you want to support pollinators, come find my table at the Sustainable Sharon Coalition’s Green Day on May 7th from 12-4 on High Street, Sharon Center, between the Sharon Public Library & Congregational Church. I’ll be selling perennials with high horticulture and pollinator value, and Rudbeckia fulgida v fulgida will be the star of the show.
(In case of inclement weather, the event will be held inside the Congregational Church Parish Hall.)
Here’s a challenge from the National Wildlife Federation. If this matters to you, Garden-911 can help you get certified.
You can participate the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge by turning your yard or garden into a Certified Wildlife Habitat via National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program. It’s as simple as providing food, water, cover and places to raise young for pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Then visit our website to certify your yard.
When you certify, you’ll get a personalized certificate, a special garden flag designating your yard as a Certified Wildlife Habitat, a one-year membership to National Wildlife Federation, six digital issues of National Wildlife magazine, a subscription to the monthly Garden for Wildlife e-newsletter, and a discount on wildlife gardening products from National Wildlife Catalog.
Most importantly, you’ll also start attracting beautiful pollinators and get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re making a difference. Each Certified Wildlife Habitat counts towards the ultimate goal of creating one million pollinator-friendly gardens by the end of 2016.