Pollinator garden will bring in bees, birds we need

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 24, 2015

By Jordan Shipton

Cooperative Extension Student Intern

We all love our hummingbirds and some of us may even have a healthy relationship with bees, but are we really giving them enough thought?

The bees are facing a crisis throughout the country with colony collapse disorder as well as pesticide usage.  Other insects such as flies, beetles, butterflies, and wasps are also feeling this pressure, along with large amounts of habitat loss.

Without bees and these other insects, we would most likely go hungry because when they are not hard at work pollinating our flowers, they are pollinating our food crops.

As the world grows more hostile towards bugs, we need to step up and help these undervalued creatures.  How do we do that that, you ask?  By creating a pollinator garden!

Pollinator gardens are no more than a flower garden that caters to insects and pollinating birds, such hummingbirds.  It replaces some of their lost habitat area, while creating a beautiful yard for the homeowner. Pollinator gardens are easy enough for anyone to establish.

The main goal of the garden is to contain a variety of native flowers that have overlapping bloom periods to allow ample forage for pollinators. Varying flower colors, shapes, scents and sizes are desired because not every pollinator is made the same.

Some have longer tongues than others, while some prefer a certain flower color or scent. Native plants that bloom in the spring include native indigo, spider wart,and beard tongue. Effective summer flowers could include butterfly weed, mountain mint, Joe-Pye weed, coneflower, anise hyssop, blanket flower and St. John’s Wort.

To add to your colorful fall foliage, try goldenrod, aster and spotted horsemint.  If you would like to add some aroma to your garden, there are several herbs that attract bees, such as rosemary, oregano, basil, lavender, thyme and catmint.

If this is not enough for you pollinator friends, you can also create artificial feeding and living areas. For example, holes drilled into an old board and mounted on a tree is a good habitat for bees, and spoiled apples and bananas serve as a buffet for many butterfly species.

If you are interested in creating a pollinator garden, please come by the Extension office to draw inspiration from our wonderful garden that was created by our Extension Master Gardeners, or talk to an Extension Agent at 704-216-8970 for more information.

Jordon Shipton is a summer intern with Cooperative Extension in Rowan County