A Native Plant Yard in St. Paul

The natural: Transforming a yard from nasty to native

News & FeaturesDan OlsonDan Olson ·  · Jun 23, 2014
A sphinx moth caterpillar in Susan Damon’s boulevard, which is filled with native plants, Wednesday, June 11, 2014 in St. Paul. Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

Everyone Can help the Bees and Butterflies!

IT IS POLLINATOR WEEKEND

Plant a pollinator plant this weekend!

Purple Cone flower
Purple Cone flower

 

Ask to be sure plants you purchase are Neonicotinoid free!

This is from the http://www.xerces.org/ society

 

BEAUTY AND THE BEES:
ONE GARDEN AT A TIME
Everyone can plant a flower for National Pollinator Week!
Once again, it is National Pollinator Week and a fantastic time to thank the bees, butterflies, and other pollinators by giving them a hand. There are so many threats to pollinators — pesticides, diseases, habitat loss, and more — that one can be discouraged. But everyone can easily do one thing to help pollinators: plant a beautiful bee-friendly flowering plant.Whether adding bee-friendly perennial wildflowers to frame your front yard, planting a pollinator hedgerow along your farm road, including bee-flowers in your vegetable garden, or just planting a pot with a sunflower on your porch, any effort to increase the number of flowers available for bees can help pollinators and beautify your home or farm. Plus, it is a great joy to watch the bees visit the flowers you plant and to share this wildlife with your friends and neighbors.Here are some places you can go to find information about which plants are best for your area.

Don’t forget to sign the Pollinator Protection Pledgeand join the ever-expanding community of pollinator enthusiasts — and enjoy yourself as we celebrate pollinators!

 

Find Out More:

 

To discover more ways to support pollinators, including ideas for creating a bee garden in your own community, visit our Bring Back the Pollinators webpage.

 

Thank you for doing your part!

Native plants don't need chemicals!
Native plants don’t need chemicals!

A new book by Heather Holm
A new book by
Heather Holm

Get With It, Build Some Habitat!

Bees and butterflies love bee balm
Bees and butterflies love bee balm

We are all worried about our bees and our butterflies! Have you ever wondered why in a city full of gardens of flowers there are so few bees and butterflies? In contrast, I observe a large diversity of bees and butterflies walking roads in northern Wisconsin where deer eat every flower within reach. The city, teaming with flowers, has less pollinators?

 

 

 

 

What is the reason?

  1. Chemicals: “The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service says homeowners use up to 10 times more chemicals per acre than http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/opinion/sunday/the-toxic-brew-in-our-yards.html?_r=0
  2. Unattractive flowers: Many of the attractive flowers we purchase have been hybridized so they don’t appeal to bees and butterflies.
  3. Habitat: A combination of the two above. Have we destroyed so much native habitat that pollinators are not interested in the flowers we plant?

The purpose of this post is to encourage you to reduce or eliminate the chemicals you use in your yard. and build habitat for our pollinators by planting more native plants in your yard. Native plants do not need chemicals.  With their deep root structure natives are flood and drought resistant. Also, they are resistant to invasive pests.  But the best about natives is that the bees , butterflies and birds love them, and they love areas without chemicals!

It is important we plant for our pollinators. What can you do to help?

** Take a pledge not to use chemicals nor dump them into drains:  The Great Healthy Yard Project  http://tghyp.com/

** Build Habitat: Find a sunny place in your yard to plant pollinator loving plants  or some native shrubs or trees.  Plant bee balm, milkweed, liatris, cone flowers, asters and golden rod. www.xerces.com

**Enjoy and appreciate your new visiting pollinators, healthier air, and cleaner water to drink   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqmUDEEJ-J4 http://tghyp.com/   Take a pledge to not use chemicals in your yard!

** Always ask if plants you purchase have been treated with neonicotinoids, and NEVER use these products or plants with neonicotinoids.

Purple cone flowers appeal to birds, bees and butterflies
Purple cone flowers appeal to birds, bees and butterflies

 

http://www.salon.com/2014/05/17/how_to_save_the_worlds_bees_before_its_too_late/  An interview with Dave Goulson

http://www.pollinatorsnativeplants.com/

pollinatorrevival.org

http://www.thebeezkneezdelivery.com/       http://mnhoney.net/

http://earthjustice.org/features/the-case-of-the-vanishing-honey-bee

http://ecowatch.com/2014/05/16/alarming-effects-pesticides-young-brains-kids/

http://www.greenphonebooth.com/2014/05/unpaving-paradise-starting-wildlife.html?spref=fb

Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop

 

The Mississippi River, Everyone’s Responsibility!

“Minneapolis, On the banks of the Minnehaha Creek!” Garrison Keillor

Materials for recycling pulled from the banks of the Minnehaha Creek
Materials for recycling pulled from the banks of the Minnehaha Creek

This blog is in response to an article on buffers along streams and rivers:

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/256920531.html

Water, Our most valuable resource! It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep our rivers, lakes and oceans clean! Living in the City of Lakes, Minneapolis, and the first major city draining streams into the Mississippi River, we take our relationship with water quality seriously. I have an easy way for those lucky enough to live along a stream, river or lake to create sustainable pollinator habitat and keep our waters clean.

The Minnehaha Creek, a few blocks from my home is often part of my walks, bird watching and litter pick up. This Creek runs through south Minneapolis, and flows into the Mississippi River. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul sit on the banks of the Mississippi River which divides them into two cities. Last weekend my neighborhood, boy scouts and high school students did a big clean up of the creek. Every piece of litter we picked up was one more piece kept out of the Mississippi River and possibly the Gulf of Mexico.

It is also important to keep pollutants from running into the creek.  Cleaning storm drains, installing rain barrels, rain gardens, and redirecting drain spouts are initiatives we promote in trying to do our best for the mighty Mississippi.

What is the problem? I was sad to read that some that farmers and others that live along water ways are not following Minnesota law to keep our rivers clean. Minnesota has a state law that requires farmers and others to create small 50 foot buffers of grasses, trees or shrubs along creeks and rivers to keep pollutants from washing into the rivers and lakes.

What can you do? An easy way to create and maintain these buffers is to plant a 50 foot strip of native plants. Why native plants in these buffer zones? Native plants have deep root structures that keep the soil in place and filter contaminants.  Planting buffers of natives would build habitat for our struggling bees and butterflies, and keep our streams and lakes nitrate and phosphorous free. It’s a win-win! Unfortunately, the buffer law isn’t enforced like it should be.  Many don’t like government regulation, well then…. Take responsibility to protect of our water from pollutants.

What are some plants to use? I would recommend seeding the buffer area with native perennials that take care of themselves.  Some of following natives would be great water filters and create bee and butterfly habitat: Golden Alexander, swamp milkweed, Culver’s root, bee balm, little blue stem, cone flowers, vervain, asters, golden rod and any native sedges.  Purchase seeds from http://www.prairiemoon.com/   Native plants are almost maintenance free once they start growing. Mowing in the spring, just once a year, would keep out trees.  Good Luck!

 

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/256920531.html  (Drainage buffers needed)

Plant Blue Flag Iris and native grasses to filter water run off.
Plant Blue Flag Iris, sedges and native grasses to filter water run off.

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/publicworks/stormwater/green/stormwater_green-initiatives_rain-barrel

http://www.prairiemoon.com/

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/restoreyourshore/pg/npc.html

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/restoreyourshore/st/bufferzone.html

Big Question: Do Plants Contain Neonicotinoids?

Bees love bee balm and Anise Hysopp
Bees love bee balm and Anise Hysopp

I am a firm believer in Education, and thank the media for making an issue of the loss of our bees.  News today that two major garden stores/growers, Bachmans and Gertens, in the Twin Cities will not use neonicotinoids on their own plants this year.  They are also educating their sales force on neonicotinoids.  This does not mean all their plants will be neonicotinoids free, because some of their suppliers might still be users.  As you shop for garden plants this year, you still need to ask, OR just purchase local native plants.  http://findnativeplants.com/  Read the full story:  http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/250843241.html

“Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. In March 2013, the American Bird Conservancy published a review of 200 studies on neonicotinoids including industry research obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act, calling for a ban on neonicotinoid use as seed treatments because of their toxicity to birds, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife. The use of some members of this class has been restricted in some countries due to some evidence of a connection to honey-bee colony collapse disorder.” From Wikopedia

Cone flowers: Easy to grow, and loved by bees!
Cone flowers: Easy to grow, and loved by bees!

What You Can Do to Help Bees and Other Pollinators

Bees love St John's Wort and Vervain
Bees love St John’s Wort and Vervain

It seems crazy to be talking about pollinators as another Polar Vortex hits Minnesota, but I really liked the below post on “10 things You Can Do To Help Bees.”  Also, the thought of flowers makes us happy!! I consider myself a pollinator plant gardener and get enormous joy from the birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife that love my chemical free plants and yard. Bees are important for the survival of many of our foods and flowers, and the drastic decline of our bees and butterflies can be blamed on many things, but habitat loss from droughts and floods; pesticide use; and the mono culture that has been created with our corn and soybean culture are three of the top concerns.  All of us can do better for our bees and butterflies.  See what you can do.

What can you do for pollinators?

1. Plant bee-friendly plants.  A few of my favorites that bees also love are chives, Anise Hyssop, bee balm (Menardia), golden rod, and asters.  Do not purchase plants at Lowes or Home Depot. They may contain hidden pollinator killing chemicals.  Find native plants for your area: http://findnativeplants.com/
 
2. Dandelions and clover are good for pollinators and bring many pollinators into your yard. Both bees and monarch butterflies love dandelions!
 

3. Don’t use chemicals or pesticides on your lawn or garden, and never use the Neonicotinoid pesticide.

4. Purchase organic food and local raw honey

A new book by Heather Holm
A new book by
Heather Holm

See the link below for the remainder of the list:

http://www.queenofthesun.com/get-involved/10-things-you-can-do-to-help-bees/

http://www.ecosystemgardening.com/top-10-herbaceous-plants-to-attract-wildlife-to-your-ecosystem-garden.html

“Cooler by the Lake”

Superior Views, First week of July

Summer is late this year because of a rainy cold spring, and the strength of the sun is needed everyday to warm the air near the big lake.  Because of the crisis with bees I am closely watching all pollinator plants.  Without a doubt I am see more bees and butterflies in Northern Wisconsin than I observe in Minneapolis

Canada Anemone
Canada Anemone

Carpets of bunch berries cover the forest floor, wild geraniums, Canada anemone and flowering chives are the first to bloom.

Lupine is not blooming yet along the lake, but dominates the roadsides with the hawkweed, daisies, and buttercup.  A magnificent composition!

Hawkweed and Daisies
Hawkweed and Daisies
Lupine
Lupine

And everyday day on this big lake ends in beauty.

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