Plant, and They Will Come

The hummingbirds and bees love wild geraniums
The hummingbirds and bees love wild geraniums

How can we help our pollinating wildlife? If everyone added just a few native plants to their yard it would make a big difference to help bees, butterflies, and birds stay healthy. I love spring plants and love the bees, butterflies and birds they bring.  Because we don’t use chemicals our yard is pollinator friendly.

Pussy toes add texture and interest, and are hosts to the American lady butterfly
Pussy toes add texture and interest, and are hosts to the American lady butterfly

This time of year we are share and transplant our plants to other people’s gardens. I am thrilled to be able to spread these bee and butterfly magnets to anyone who will love them.

This morning we had chickadees building nests(front and back yards), wrens building nests in two house(they couldn’t decide on one), three bunnies, and a hungry hummingbird. This is an end of May view of some of the best pollinator native plants blooming now in our Minneapolis yard:

The native columbine is a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds
The native columbine is a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and people!
The golden Alexander is a host to the black swallow tail butterfly
The golden Alexander is a host to the black swallow tail butterfly
Bees love the spiderwort
Bees love the spiderwort
The Painted lady butterflies have laid eggs on these pearly everlasting.
The Painted lady butterflies have laid eggs on these pearly everlasting.

 

 

Canada anemone
Canada anemone

Violets(hosts for the fritillary butterflies) Virginia waterleaf, and many other groundcover also are blooming
 

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Add Biodiversity, from MPCA

Header May 2016

Planting natives for beauty & biodiversity

If each of us does a little bit, we can make a BIG difference!

Below is from the Minnesota Pollution control. View on their website here

Turf grass lawns require lots of maintenance—watering, the burning of fossil fuels for mowing and other upkeep, pesticides, and fertilizers—which impact water quality and can contribute to climate change.

Many of the non-native, ornamental plants we plant in our gardens have little value to wildlife. Some of these flowering ornamental plants produce no nectar or pollen for bees or butterflies.

You can play an important role in helping to preserve species and biodiversity in your own yard by landscaping and gardening with native plants. Replacing turf grass and non-native plants with natives—even in small sections of your yard or garden—pays big environmental dividends!

Monarch

Some of the many benefits of native plants

  • Planting a variety of native plants increases biodiversity. We need biodiversity—it runs the ecosystem on which we depend.
  • Native plants provide food and shelter for wildlife. Many insects require a specific host plant to lay their eggs on and the young to feed on (e.g. monarchs and milkweeds). Animals require many different plants throughout their life cycles to remain healthy and robust.
  • Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they occur naturally. Many native plants have deep roots, and require little to no watering once established. These deep roots decrease erosion and filter stormwater, nutrients, and pollutants that would otherwise end up in our lakes, ponds, wetlands and streams.
Mailbox garden

Tips to get you started

Learn what you have. This will save you time and energy later on. Learn to distinguish non-native weeds from native plants. Manage the aggressive, perennial invasive plants that will compete with the native plants for space, water and nutrients. Leave or transplant any native plants you might already have in your yard.

Start small. Perhaps you have an area of your lawn or garden that needs a re-do. Areas of lawn where grass doesn’t grow well or that you are tired of mowing are perfect candidates to get you started. Reduce some areas of turf and add a pollinator garden or a raingarden.

Pick the right plants for the right place. Native plants come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Some plants grow well in full sun with sandy soils, others prefer wet soils or shady areas.

Variety is the spice of life. Try to have plants that flower in succession—different plants that bloom from early spring all the way through to the fall. Plant a variety of different types of plants—flowers, grasses, sedges, shrubs and trees. The larger variety of plants you have will support a larger variety of life.

Avoid neonics. Neonicitinoid pesticides are systemic pesticides that are taken up within the plant. There is mounting evidence that neonics are harmful to pollinators and other beneficial insects. To avoid harming beneficial insects, ask the retailer before purchase if plants have been treated with systemic pesticides.

Shoreline planting

Native landscaping doesn’t have to look “wild.” You may prefer a wild look. If you want a more manicured garden, plant selection is important. You can also utilize mulch, spacing, strips of grass, paths, and attractive fencing for a more formal look.

Support local native plant nurseries and companies. There are many great companies in Minnesota that specialize in growing or managing native plants/invasive plants. They have the expertise to give you some ideas of what plants might work for your situation. Native plant nurseries in your area will have grown local ecotype native plants—ones that came from your region that are adapted to local conditions.

Soldier beetle

Be okay with bugs!  Only a small percentage of insects are pests, and the damage they do is aesthetic and oftentimes tolerable. Insects form the base of the food web. Without insects, there can be no mammals, birds, reptiles, or other forms of “higher” life.

“Free” money. Many Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Watershed Districts, and cities provide cost-share money for people who want to help the environment by planting native plants in their yards. See http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/native_vegetation for more helpful resources.

Don’t have a yard? Consider adopting a local park or open space for planting natives. Be sure to ask for permission first. Or support non-profits and other organizations that are doing this type of work.

If each of us does a little bit, we can make a BIG difference!

 

 

 

If You Love The Lake!

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Minneapolis is a city of lakes. “Walking the lake” is a big deal for most of us, and the lakes are magnets for people from all over the Twin Cities metro area and state. I am impressed with this educational campaign taking place along the walking paths of the Minneapolis lakes.
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Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.
Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.

It looks like a thirsty future for the world. The Pacific Standard Magazine has just publish a map of the world’s troubled waters  and some of the politics around water.  More things you can do to protect our water bodies here.

 

What Have We Done To Our Water?

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A buffer strip along Lake Superior

This morning I was walking a bridge crossing the Big Blue River in Nebraska.  Never have I seen a river so full of sediment!  The name “Big Blue” was full of irony for me.  I know many of the local water sources in this area of Nebraska are poisoned with nitrates, and children should not be drinking this water. Farming areas of Iowa and Minnesota are having the same water pollution problem. The major source of nitrates are fertilizers on farm fields, and farmers are not regulated by the Clean Water Act. We are all guilty of dirty water and can do much better at protecting our waters.  The run-off from our houses, driveways and roads are major contributors to our polluted lakes rivers and streams.  Farmers need to better, but so do all of us!

10 actions you can take to improve lakes, rivers and streams from Hennepin County.

When it rains, the storm water that runs off driveways, lawns, houses and parking lots can carry pollutants like oil, paint and chemicals down storm sewers and into nearby lakes, streams and rivers. By taking the following easy, no-cost or low-cost steps, you can have a big impact on reducing runoff and protecting our water resources and wildlife habitat. Hennepin County

 

1. Use your runoff

You can keep water in your yard and reduce runoff by directing downspouts onto your lawn or garden or into a rain barrel. Rainwater is free and naturally “soft,” so it is ideal to use in watering your lawn or garden.

2. Don’t rake grass clippings and leaves into the street

Leave them on your lawn, use them for compost, or bag them up. Grass clippings and leaves left in the street end up in the storm sewer, where they are carried to nearby lakes and streams. Clippings and leaves contain phosphorus and other nutrients that feed algae and other aquatic plants. This can cause excess algae growth that can negatively impact other plants and wildlife and can be unsafe for pets.

3. Scoop the poop

Grab a bag when you grab the leash and pick up after your pets. Pet waste left on the ground can be washed into lakes and rivers with rainwater and runoff. Pet waste contains bacteria that can cause illness in humans and animals.

4. Use chemicals wisely

Read and follow the label instructions when using herbicides and pesticides. Use the minimum amount needed to control the problem. If you can, consider using alternative or natural remedies to control weeds and pests, or remove the problem by hand.

5. Fertilize smart

Sweep up any fertilizer that spills onto hard surfaces. Excess fertilizer washes away into nearby lakes or streams where it can feed algae, causing rapid growth known as algae blooms. Algae blooms stress fish and wildlife and make swimming and fishing unpleasant or impossible.

6. Keep a healthy lawn

A healthy, vigorous lawn needs less watering, fewer chemicals and less maintenance. Aerate your lawn periodically to loosen the soil. Seed bare patches to prevent erosion and soil loss. Mow at a higher setting. Grass mowed to a height of 2 ½ to 3 inches develops deeper, healthier roots and has a competitive advantage over weeds.

7. Plant a rain garden

Rain gardens are depressions planted with a diverse mix of native wildflowers and grasses

Rain gardens collect water run-off
Rain gardens collect water run-off

designed to collect rainwater and allow it to soak into the soil. This will reduce the water running off your property into storm sewers.

8. Replace turf with native plants

Swap some of your high-maintenance lawn for low-maintenance native ground cover, plants or grasses. Many native plants develop deeper root structures than turf grass, which reduces runoff by allowing for better water infiltration.

Deep-rooted plants absorb more water than turf grass
Deep-rooted plants absorb more water than turf grass

9. Reduce your footprint

Replace some pavement – such as a walk, patio or driveway – with pavers or pervious pavement. The porous surface will allow water to seep through.

10. Adopt a storm drain

Keep neighborhood storm drains free of leaves, seeds and grass clippings. Storm drains are directly connected to nearby water bodies. Water running into storm drains can carry with it anything dumped nearby including leaves, grass clippings, soil, oil, paint and chemicals. Keeping storm drains clear will protect the water quality of nearby lakes, streams and rivers.

***If you own property on a lake, pond, river or stream you should install a tree and plant buffer strip to keep pollutants from running into the water.

Minnesota Public Radio is doing a fabulous series on protecting our water. More from MPR here.

Another list of ways to protect our water from the NRDC.

The sun makes the Big Blue look blue. It is thick with sediment.
The sun makes the Big Blue look blue. It is thick with sediment.

A Win-win for Pollinators and People

How can you help our pollinators? Our pollinators are struggling to survive.  There are things we can do in our yards to help pollinators. The mono-culture of perfect green turf grass lawns does nothing to help our struggling pollinators.

Blue Salvia are loved by bees.
Blue Salvia are loved by bees. (not native)

I have been on a road trip from Minnesota, through Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska,  and South Dakota, and have been amazed at the manicured thick turf grass that dominates in parks and lawns.  Turf grass has no value for pollinators, and when fertilized adds unhealthy chemicals harmful to pollinators, humans, pets, wildlife and our water bodies.  Adding a diversity of fresh new plants and removing some lawn can make a big difference for our pollinators.

Walking a trail in Lincoln, Nebraska I was thrilled at their efforts to help our pollinators. They are allowing clover and native plants to grow. I even saw a few milkweed popping up.

Just a few changes can make a big difference for pollinators.(bees, butterflies, and birds)
Just a few changes can make a big difference for pollinators.(bees, butterflies, and birds)

Spring is a fabulous time to add new plants to your yard. A wide diversity of plants helps

Foam flower is an early blooming plant
Foam flower is an early blooming plant

our pollinators. Native plants don’t need chemicals so they are the healthiest for you, children, pets, and the pollinators.  More garden diversity, and less chemicals creates a win-win for our earth and us all!

Here is a good article on creating more diversity for pollinators.

Pussy toes add texture and interest
An early blooming plant, pussy-toes add texture and interest, and is a host plant to the painted lady butterfly

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Allowing the violets, Virginia waterleaf and dandelions(until they go to seed), and clover can create easy gardening and great pollinator habitat.

 

http://www.startribune.com/flower-power-season-long-blooms-are-a-win-win-for-people-and-pollinators/378411041/

https://health4earth.com/add-fun-pollinators-to-your-yard/

Always consider how to add more milkweed. Swamp milkweed has been the most successful for me.
Always consider how to add more milkweed. Swamp milkweed has been the most successful for me.
Wild geranium, easy to grow, is loved by bees and butterflies.
Wild geranium, easy to grow, is loved by bees and butterflies and is early blooming

30 Day Challenge

Get Outside and Enjoy!
Get Outside and Enjoy!

Healthy Planet=Healthy People

This is the best 30 day challenge ever! Spend 30 minutes outside everyday for 30 days.

“Want to feel healthier, happier and more peaceful? Add a daily dose of nature to your routine.

Most of us spend too much time in front of screens and too little time outdoors. It’s time to fall (back) in love with nature!

This May, the David Suzuki Foundation is challenging you and people around the world to join the 30×30 Challenge by spending 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days. Our goal is simple: to reconnect human beings with nature for the sake of their health and mental well-being.”  David Suzuki

Take the challenge here

Happy May, get out and enjoy!

Walk* Bike *Garden*Bird Watch* Breathe* Love the earth

Enjoy!
Enjoy!

http://30×30.davidsuzuki.org/

The first day of the challenge I saw a painted lady and red admiral butterflies, and a

Painted Lady
Painted Lady

swimming otter.  I heard lots of woodpeckers and chickadees.