By Marion McParland
In recognition of National Pollinator Week, PHS urges gardeners to learn more about these vital helpers and ways to help them thrive in your own garden or patio setting. Birds, butterflies, and bees are just a few of the well-known creatures at work sustaining our ecosystems. Beetles, small mammals, moths, bats, and other insects contribute to this group effort as well.
Did you know that pollinators are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food? In fact, they help pollinate more than 180,000 different plant species and more than 1,200 crop species including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Without pollination, the diversity and availability of the fresh produce we eat would decline substantially. While some crops could be hand- or robotically pollinated, many would be lost unless maintained by hobbyists.
Designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat, PHS Meadowbrook Farm is bursting with many beautiful plant options and is full of inspiration to help you get started. PHS’s Meadowbrook Farm team shares a short list of their favorites that you can see at the garden.
Head Gardener Glenn Ashton’s go-tos are Zizia aurea, (golden Alexander), Pycnanthemum muticum (mountain mint), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed), and Angelica atropurpurea (purple-stemmed angelica).
Julie Bare, Senior Estate Gardener, recommends Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’, also known as trumpet honeysuckle, Tithonia rotundifolia (Mexican sunflower), and Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, a summersweet bush.
Dan Scott, Associate Director, loves night-blooming pollinator plants. These nocturnal bloomers produce a strong, sweet scent at twilight, night, and early morning to attract pollinators. His must-haves include Mirabilis jalapa (four o’clocks), Ipomoea alba (moonflower vine), Datura metel ‘Evening Fragrance’, and Brugmansia x candida (angel’s trumpet).
Encourage your family and friends to plant a pollinator garden with you or on their own! With your family and friends. There is no better way to learn about the importance of pollinators then by making it a hands-on activity. Here are some simple tips to get you started.
Create large bunches of flowers. Many pollinators are near-sighted, so it is easier for them to find flowers in large bunches.
Add a pond, or bird bath as a source of water in your garden. Both plants and creatures need fresh water.
Provide shelter! It doesn’t have to be a five-star bird hotel — a simple hedge, dead tree, or unmowed grass will provide plenty of options. It’s OK that one area of your landscape is unkempt for this reason.
Include native plants to your region. Check with the Xerces Society to find more pollinator-friendly native plant lists for your area.
Let PHS guide and educate you in your gardening projects. With workshops, resources, and reference materials, everything you need to get started is online – rain or shine!