Here’s The Perennial Pollinator Garden Buzz!
The National Pollinator Garden Network advocates, “pollinators are responsible for 1 out of 3 bites of food we take each day, and yet pollinators are at critical point in their own survival.” Perennial gardening offers so many benefits to our property, our home and our overall well-being. Since perennial plants come back every year, the return on your investment is money well spent. Let’s talk about some of the other fringe benefits and how you can plant your perennial garden with purpose.
It’s a fact – the more nectar and pollen sources we can facilitate with pollinator-friendly gardens will help improve the health and numbers of butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinator species that are critical to the biodiversity and sustainability of our natural ecosystems.
Attracting pollinators to your garden is easy. These wonderful winged visitors also bring visual rewards and invite natural pest control to the garden.
Keeping a butterfly garden is a healthy, educational activity for children and collecting pollinator plants makes going to the garden center fun for them too! Spotting a butterfly in the garden that was planted specifically for them, is a natural and rewarding treasure for kids and adults alike.
Did you know the Monarch Butterfly flies nearly 3,000 miles to Mexico in the fall? This handy guide on Creating Monarch and Pollinator Habitat in New Hampshire from the US Department of Agriculture, explains how Monarchs spend the winter there and then fly north again, laying eggs in the south along the way, before they die. Since they make this trip only once in their lifetime, it is a wonder how they know their way. Even more wonderful is the gift of the new Monarch, from those eggs laid in the south, that arrive here in NH each summer. A treasure indeed!
Who doesn’t love to observe the behaviors of the fascinating hummingbird? Hummingbirds must eat more than their weight in food each day, and they must fulfill this need by eating often, or face danger of starving. Maintaining even a small feeder in your garden can help solve a hummingbird’s immediate requirement for food.
The Ruby-throated, Rufous and Calliope are hummingbird species that thrive in NH. Learn more about these winged wonders.
Now that we’ve covered the birds, let’s talk about the bees!
The long-term use of chemical pesticides is identified as a primary cause of the declining world bee population and global efforts are underway to study and take measures to address the threat. According to the NH Farm Bureau, the honey bee is the workhorse of pollination for agriculture.
Gardeners, especially those with bee allergies, should consider the bee’s place in their garden. While bees will be where bees will be, creating a hospitable habitat with perennial wildflowers is one way we can each do our small part.
In the UNH Cooperative Extension article, Saving The Bees, Specialist Cathy Neal reminds us, “native bees do not sting, all but bumblebees are smaller than honey bees and there is no need for people to be afraid of them – they should not be confused with paper wasps and yellow jackets, which are not important pollinators but are still beneficial in that they prey on crop pests.”
My Top Picks for the Perennial Pollinator Garden:
Butterflies are most attracted to reds and purple flowers with mild fragrance.
Hummingbirds are most attracted to red, orange or white flowers in a cup or funnel shape, with little to no scent.
Bees prefer bright white, yellow or blue flowers with shallow or tubular blossoms and a mild scent.
Check out Studley’s 2017 Garden Center Inventory to view our full list of our perennials. Download our Butterfly & Hummingbird Attracting Perennial List and on your next visit, ask us more about the benefits of a perennial pollinator garden.
Visit the a NAPPC and Pollinator Partnership™ guide, for more ideas on adopting pollinator friendly landscape practices in NH.
Join The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a campaign to register a million public and private gardens and landscapes to support pollinators.
My Pro Tip:
Pollinator friendly perennial plants are complementary in the garden landscape and many will invite visitors across pollinator species. When selecting planning your perennial pollinator garden, consider light, height, and bloom time first. For season-long color and a constant pollinator food supply, aim for successive blooms. Choose pollinator-friendly colors and blossom shapes. Many pollinator plants are also ideal for cutting.
I think you will find the possibilities are endless. Narrow your list by soil preference and space allowance. For optimal health and to maximize your budget and impact, dig and divide perennials every 3-4 years. Remember, with perennials – the first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap!
See you at the Garden Center!