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Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Posted By: Marian Vaughan in Pollinators

 

Summer

is finally here, and the garden is in full bloom and the weeds have settled to a dull roar. One of the delights of the summer garden is watching hummingbirds & butterflies while listening to the humming of bees. These creatures perform an essential role in the garden as pollinators and many people have begun to deliberately create pollinator friendly gardens. Here are a few of the many plants that can and do attract pollinators for the summer season, as well as tips to make the garden more inviting to them.


 

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds love red & if it’s red & tubular even more. Crocosmia, fuchsia, the huge tubes of lilies & the tiny ones of centranthus (Jupiter's Beard) as well as honeysuckle & penstemon. They also enjoy albizzia (the tree) and such annuals/tender perennials as firecracker plant, petunias & callibrachoe. While they don't only feed from red flowers, an abundance of red or deep pink in the garden will keep them coming back; they then zip around the garden seeing if there is anything for a second course. Hummingbirds serve double duty in our gardens, they also catch insects on the wing: flies, gnats & mosquitoes; their favourites being spiders and daddy long legs.  


 

Bees

Bees, on the other hand, are colour blind to red & zero in on the blue side of the spectrum: earlier in the year, lilacs & ceanothus & early campanulas. Now, in full summer, buddleia is always swarming with bees as are subshrubs such as rosemary, lavender, sage & thyme. Perennials such as veronica, delphinium & hardy geraniums are good bee plants, as are the scented verbena, agastache and anchusa. Bees don't shun plants just because they aren't blue: both monarda (bee balm) and asclepias (butterfly weed) can & do attract lots of bees, as does eryngium (sea holly) and many annuals & biennials: cleome, cornflowers, snapdragons & foxglove are good examples.

Butterflies

Butterflies happily trip back & forth between the two colours, adding yellow & white to the mix. They prefer flat flowers: achillea, eryngium, echinacea & rudbeckia; but still they share with hummingbirds a love of centranthus & with bees a love of buddleia & lavender. Such strong scented plants as nepeta (catmint) lemon balm, mint, monarda & hyssop attract not only bees & butterflies but many of the lesser pollinators & helpful insects such as parasitic wasps.  If you plant a few night blooming plants: evening primrose, phlox or cardinal flower, you will also be providing food for nocturnal moths; some of these are incredibly lovely.

In considering how to bring butterflies to your garden, it is important to care for them in their larval stage. The caterpillars of the gorgeous Western Tiger Swallowtail, for example, live & feed on poplars, willow, birch & bitter cherry, while the Pale Swallowtail prefers alder. Stinging nettle is home to many baby butterflies as are native thistles. If possible, a small "wild" section at the edge of the garden will ensure an abundance of butterflies. Leaving garden cleanup til spring also means that overwintering chrysalises will not be destroyed

Water & Other Needs

Similarly, bees need more than just nectar: the right housing can increase the number of kinds of bees that come to the garden: in BC our gardens can attract honeybees, mason bees, leaf cutter bees as well as bumble bees to mention just a few.   Some of these are ground nesting and are very important pollinators.  They are not aggressive, stinging only in self defense.   For these bees it is good to leave a bare (uncultivated) area of soil, which remains fairly dry.  Some hornets & wasps also nest in the ground, and they DO sting!!!  Its important to learn to tell the difference between a bee and a wasp before leaving or destroying that nest.

All bees also need a source water: any shallow container with pebbles or twigs as landing sites (changed daily) will keep the entire hive healthy. Butterflies will also take advantage of this "pool".  Hummingbirds prefer to fly through a daytime sprinkler for a bath, or else sit in the rain with their wings open "bathing"' They drink dew in the morning but will drink from a shallow birdbath with a very narrow rim.
 

What Not to Do

It goes without saying, I hope, that the primary way to keep your garden attractive to pollinators is to refrain from using pesticides which are not natural in origin. Pesticides are the worst enemies of butterflies, and if they must be applied, even organic pesticides should be applied in the evening when butterflies are mostly inactive.
 

By Design

Plants that attract the various pollinators vary greatly in appearance. This variation of colour & form can make for a very satisfying garden in summer. Most experts suggest a minimum of ten types of plants to keep pollinators coming back, but in honest anything we do in our gardens is a bonus for these small but very essential creatures.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Posted By: Lyle Courtice A.H. in Feature Products

These aren't your Grandma's perennials! A new twist on some old garden favorites.

Jade Frost Sea Holly

Eryngium planum 'Jade Frost' - Sea Holly

Very architectural plant with tall stems of steel-blue, thistle-like flower heads surrounded by spiny bracts. Plants form attractive rosettes of blue green leaves with a creamy white margin; tinged rose in cooler weather. Flowers late spring into summer. Good as fresh cuts or in dried arrangements. Full sun in any well-drained soil. Height: 20-100cm (foliage/flowers) Spread: 30-40cm Zone: 5

Kniphofia Papaya Series

Kniphofia Popsicle Series* - Redhot Poker

A new breed of pokers with a more compact habit and attractive, narrow dark green grassy foliage that remains all season. The added bonus is they rebloom from summer into fall. Great plants for a hot dry location, they require full sun in any well-drained soil. Zone: 6

Kniphofia 'Papaya Popsicle'
Excellent compact habit with two-toned flowers of hot red-orange fading to light orange yellow. Height: 30-50cm Spread: 45cm

Kniphofia 'Redhot Popsicle'
Rich cinnamon red flowers on compact, grassy plant. Height: 40-50cm Spread: 40cm

Kniphofia 'Orange Vanilla Popsicle'
Beautiful two toned flowers opening red- orange fading to creamy white, yummy! Height: 40-50cm Spread: 40cm

Bridal Bouquet Shasta Daisy

Leucanthemum x superbum 'Bridal Bouquet'* - Shasta Daisy

Large, lightly ruffled flowers of white with a yellow center; bright yellow when first opening. Reblooms from early summer into fall on compact, bushy plants. Non scented! Height: 40cm Spread: 50-60cm Zone: 5

Rudbeckia f. var. s. 'Little Gold Star' - Black-Eyed Susan

Terrific introduction that forms a bushy, short clump of rich green leaves topped by numerous starburst-shaped flowers; golden yellow with a dark brown eye. Very floriferous blooming from midsummer into early fall. Fantastic in containers or planted en mass. Give full sun to light shade. Height: 40-50cm Spread: 50cm Zone: 4

Rudbeckia Little Henry

Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Little Henry'* - Black-Eyed Susan

Nice compact selection for the garden with a narrow, upright habit. Golden quill-type flowers with a brown eye bloom summer until frost. Makes a great cut flower. Height: 90-125cm Spread: 60cm Zone: 4

Photography courtesy of HarkAway Botanicals
*Photo's courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

These and many other interesting and unique perennials are available at Arts Nursery. Please call ahead to confirm availability.


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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

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