Survey your yard, what plants do the bees and butterflies search out?
Survey your yard, what plants do the bees and butterflies search out?
What joy to look out the window and see monarch butterflies and ruby throated hummingbirds enjoying the plants in my yard. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds thrive on native plants. Hummingbirds are especially crazy about the cardinal flowers, and because cardinal flowers are a pop-up flower* and I am a pop-up gardener they are everywhere one looks in our yard. Where ever you look you see a hummingbird enjoying a native plant. Native plants are now at their peak and bees and butterflies are happy. Because the rainfall has been so heavy this year, many plants are taller with more blossoms than usual. Thriving plants attract thriving pollinators.
Plant and they will come!
*pop-up flower -You never know where they will re-seed and pop-up. I let them grow where they are happy!
Suggestions for easy to raise native plants: 1. Never use chemicals, native plants like compost, but not chemicals. 2. Strive to have plants that bloom in different seasons. 3. Work for plant diversity, and you get a variety of happy pollinators. 4. Native plants are very easy to grow if you put them in a place that meets their needs for sun and moisture. There are natives that will thrive in almost every condition. 5. Native plants are a process, we weren’t born knowing this, it takes time, and you will be surprised by their energy and persistence. 6. Whatever you do to add plants to your yard, be sure to add some milkweed.
Ways to be a better environmental steward from Ecowatch
From Earth911 ways to be more sustainable. Read at Earth911
When I see the mowing down native plants pollinators I get angry. My husband and I have just completed a driving loop from Minneapolis to Chicago and back through Iowa. We have traveled Interstate East 94, West Interstate 80 and Interstate 35 North. The entire road trip I surveyed the status of mowing and blooming plants. The shoulders of most of the interstates are not over-mowed, but they are mowing the center median which doesn’t make sense? The best plants can grow in the median if allowed to survive. Some farmers are mowing along the interstates and they do get a little extreme with their mowers. Educating, educating and educating is what we need to continue to do, and it does make a difference. Below is a sample letter I sent to my rural town road crew. I hope you can modify it and send to your local and state government.
Dear local government road crew,
Pollinators, (bees, butterflies and birds) are in trouble in the United States. They have faced serious habitat loss. Last year and the past few years their numbers seemed smaller compared to the years before. Bees and butterflies need the nectar and pollen from flowers for their survival. The Obama Administration is working to plant pollinator plants along our interstate highways to improve bird, bee and butterfly habitat. The plants along the roadways in our town are a natural habitat for birds, butterflies and bees. Now as the daisies, lupine and other wild plants bloom we have beautiful roadways for residents and food for butterflies and bees.
I am writing to ask you to not mow the entire right-a-way along our town roads until maybe late August or even better would be September. I know you need to mow for safety, and that is important. Could you please not mow every flower down until early fall? Maybe mow just a strip along the roads leaving plant food for our pollinators. The bees, butterflies, birds and humans would thank you for the needed nectar, and fabulous summer beauty.
If I can get a commitment from you to mow a little later, I will spread milkweed seeds along the town roads creating more butterfly and bee habitat.
Wisconsin energy co-ops to create monarch butterfly habitat
A Win-Win for water!
Simple steps to creating a rain garden:
1. Remove the sod and dig a hole. It must be at least 10 feet from your house and where you can direct a drain-spout, driveway or sidewalk to drain rain water. Most rain garden holes are about 12 inches deep with wide 3 feet slanted sides surrounding the garden. The bottom of the garden should be flat.
2. Mix in about one inch of compost to the bottom and sides of your new garden
3. Cover the garden with a layer of several inches of double or triple shredded mulch.
4. Plant deep-rooted plants. Most of the plants you love will work matching the degree of sun and shade. Also, always work to have a variety of plants that bloom at different times for the bees and butterflies.The bottom plants need to be water tolerant. Some bottom plants I have used are: liatris, swamp milkweed, turtlehead, Culver’s root, blue flag iris, sensitive fern, cardinal-flower, blue lobelia and many kinds of sedges.
5.. Water–If it is dry, you need to water the new plants for the first couple of months.
And from National Geographic, other ways to conserve water
From the Washington Post on managing water in your yard.
Questions? Leave a comment
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.
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:
Violets(hosts for the fritillary butterflies) Virginia waterleaf, and many other groundcover also are blooming
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
Another list of ways to protect our water from the NRDC.
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.
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.
Spring is a fabulous time to add new plants to your yard. A wide diversity of plants helps
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.
Allowing the violets, Virginia waterleaf and dandelions(until they go to seed), and clover can create easy gardening and great pollinator habitat.