Winter has settled in, making this a perfect time to browse through seed catalogs to dream and plan the Spring garden. While browsing through the William Dam catalog I came across some important information that I want to share. The following is taken straight from that catalog: www.damseeds.com
“The Humble Bee. Such a small creature in this vast world, but such an important part of our lives. In the last year every paper, blog, and social media site has made comments on the humble bee. From our local 4H clubs to our churches, even to the great office of the White House, people are waking up to how we impact creation. As a seed company the bee is vital to our survival: without some form of pollination there would be no seed, and natural pollinators always work best.
There is great debate into what has caused the decrease in the bees and other pollinators. While seed treatments have taken a lot of the blame for bee population decline, ecologists all agree it is a combination of causes. So what can we do as growers and gardeners? University studies have shown that increasing habitat and providing a wide range of flower pollen and food will make for healthier bees. Healthier bees will be able to withstand virus, predators, and chemical contamination. We believe increasing diversity of habitat is very important to the bees – growing food and providing pollen plants is at the top of the list.
This summer we dedicated half of our flower trials to studying which flowers and plants benefit bees and other pollinators. It was amazing to see the results, and actively feeding bees did not sting us. A simple thing like allowing broccoli to flower gave the bees a month of food.
As stewards of this Creation we live in, simple things can make a difference. Grow a flower, save the bees.”
For the first time ever, they have devoted two pages in their catalog to plants that benefit pollinators. This really helps in choosing the right plants. We have a quarter acre of wasteland that needs to be planted which we will now do by spreading their Bee Feed Mix. Our yard has been a bird and butterfly friendly habitat for years – to attract even more varieties we’ll also spread their Bird and Butterfly Mix. Their Beneficial Insect Mix and Northeast American Wildflower Mix are two mixes that will have to wait till next year. Won’t the flowers in the picture below pretty up an area that is now waste land?
There are a number of individual plants which can be tucked into any flower bed, vegetable/herb garden or even window boxes. Besides attracting pollinators, any of these will add beauty to the yard. They include:
- Achillea, Agastache, Alyssum, Asclepias, Aster, Basils, Borage, Buddleja, Catnip, Centaura, Clover, Coreopsis, Dill, Dracocephaleum, Echinacea, Flax, Gaillardia, Gaura, Helianthus-garden types, Helenium, Heliotrope, Latavera, Lavender, Malope, Marigolds, Monarda, Mustards, Oregano, Orlaya, Parsley, Phacelia, Prickly Poppy, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Thyme, Tithonia, Tomato, Verbena, Zinnias.
A few other facts about pollinators:
- Monarch Caterpillars eat only Asclepias (Milkweed) during their life, however, the adult butterflies have a more varied diet that includes: Aster, Buddleja, Echinacea, Verbena and Zinnia;
- Butterflies like flowers that give them a platform to hold onto while they sip the nectar, so include flowers like Achillea, Rudbeckia, Tithonia, and Zinnias;
- Bees love broccoli. Leave some of your broccoli, arugula and other mustards to bolt to provide a month of food for bees.
Since herbs play a large role in my own gardening efforts it was good to read that many of them attract pollinators. Milkweed and mustard is already growing wild on our conservation land. We had planned to enlarge our lavender gardens; it will be a small matter to add a few pretty herbs, like borage, around the edge. Broccoli and arugula will definitely have a spot in the garden this year, if only to allow them to bolt.
The decline in pollinators is a serious global problem and can lead to food shortages everywhere. Why not create your own pollinator attracting garden? If we can become part of the solution while making our yards beautiful, doesn’t that sound like a win-win situation?
We can help stop the decline of these valuable pollinators.
Talk to you again next week,
Please share with all your gardening friends and help stop the decline.
The bee and butterfly thank you.
All images courtesy of Wm. Dam Seeds www.facebook.com/DamSeeds
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with William Dam Seeds other than as a customer. I will receive no compensation of any kind for this article.