Pollinator Passion

“Nature is a way to escape to a healing place!” John Caddy

First there were four, then there were seven, now there are over ten monarch butterflies playing tag in my yard. This has been going on for two months. Monarchs are passionate for meadow blazing star (Liatris), and they get excited when the blazing star is blooming.  Watching them makes one happy.

Monarch butterflies love blazing star!

Our world is in crisis and we need to find ways to lessen stress on our Earth.  We know droughts, incredible heat, fires, floods, and smoky air are causing people, trees and wildlife to move to safer places or even die. Human behavior has helped to create this awful situation, and new paradigms are needed to lessen our carbon footprint. We already know that the world needs us to drive less, use less water, eat less meat, buy less, and reduce our plastic footprint.

What can we do more of that is actually good? Making a healthy change to your yard by planting native plants is a positive action you can take. Deep-rooted native plants are a win-win for our earth! They do not need chemicals and they do not need watering.

The native plants growing in my yard have produced way beyond my expectations during this harsh summer environment. Because deep-rooted plants don’t need to be watered and don’t use chemicals they create a healthier environment, and an important way to help our Earth.  Planting earth friendly plants will bring more birds and butterflies to visit your yard.  A pollinator garden brings joy many months of the year, but especially in July and August when the pollinators are crazy over nectaring plants.

How do you create this healing place for yourself and the birds and butterflies in your neighborhood? Remove some hostas and turf grass and replace them with native deep-rooted plants. You can create your own eco-system of life in your own yard. Start simple!

milkweed

Start by planting some milkweek and bee balm

and purple cone flowers.

Every yard should have purple cone flowers

Native gardens are an eco-system of their own creating food and joy for pollinators and humans alike! Create your own escape from the world by using deep-rooted plants to invite birds, butterflies and other wildlife into your space. Many birds raise their babies on the insects and caterpillars they find in the pollinator garden. Birds eat seed from the native plants all year. The goldfinch are already eating away on the bee balm, cone flowers and brown eye Susan.

hummingbirds love cardinal flowers

Cardinal flowers will bring humming-birds to your yard, but cardinal flower is not drought tolerant.

Reading list:

Study: Birds Are Linked to Happiness Levels – EcoWatch 

Wild Ones Introduces Free, Native Garden Designs – Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes

Earth Overshoot Day Moves Forward By Nearly a Month – EcoWatch

How Non-Native Plants Are Contributing to a Global Insect Decline – Yale E360 

Could Las Vegas’s Grass Removal Policies Alter the Western US Drought-Scape? | Sierra Club

Pollinator-Friendly Alternative to Hosta and Daylily – Monarch GardensCornus alternifolia Pagoda Dogwood | Prairie Moon Nursery

Weed garden wins RHS gold at Tatton Park flower show – BBC News 

Soft Landings – Bee and Pollinator Books by Heather Holm (pollinatorsnativeplants.com)

Top US scientist on melting glaciers: ‘I’ve gone from being an ecologist to a coroner’ | Climate change | The Guardian    

What Brings you Joy?

This morning a cardinal and other birds were singing, I worked in a community garden with friends, and I saw a new butterfly. This brings me joy.

As this pandemic retreats, what is bringing you joy? Being outside, seeing birds, butterflies and new lush green plants? The beginning of June has brought hiking, biking and gardening and lots of joyful outside time for me. Seeing people in person again has also been a time of joy and freedom.  I am so thankful for the science and the vaccines that have made it possible for us to get our lives back. It is now time to get back to enjoying everyday! Take pictures of what brings you joy, and send them to us.

swallow tail butterfly

Butterflies bring joy

milkweed

What are the special events to celebrate in June? June 5,  is World Environment Day, June 8 is World Oceans Day and June 19, is Juneteenth. June 20 is Father’s Day. All of June is Pride and Gun Violence Awareness Month. See the Actions for Happiness calendar below for joyful ideas. This June take pictures of what brings you joy. Send them to us.

Take care of our beautiful Earth

World Environment Day , This is our moment.

We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature.

Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid. 

Join #GenerationRestoration

READING LIST:

 Hundreds of lakes losing oxygen:  https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-york/articles/2021-06-02/hundreds-of-lakes-in-us-europe-are-losing-oxygen#:~:text=

7 Educational Nature Activities for Kids You Can Do at Home This Summer – EcoWatch

UN World Oceans Day 2021 – UN World Oceans Day  

Join the Fresh Start Challenge! – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Six skills we need as citizens who can’t agree on scientific facts – StarTribune.com

Biden takes aim at all factors hampering Black Americans – StarTribune.com 

98 stories of garbage: State plans to expand 4 over-stuffed landfills in metro – Twin Cities 

‘The Ancient Woods’ Review: Deep in the Forest – The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

15 Healthy Foods That RDs Say Will Make You Happier | Eat This Not That  

 June 19th is Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.

June is Gun Violence Awareness Month. 

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence will mark Wear Orange weekend June 4-6, and we will honor and remember the lives, families, and communities who have suffered and continue to suffer the ongoing scourge of American gun violence.

Take pictures of what brings you JOY

Plant Flowers Loved by Bees and Butterflies

I love the bee yards that are popping up in my neighborhood. Homeowners are getting the message that turf grass yards are food deserts for pollinators. Our bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and moths have been devastated by habitat loss and excess chemical use. We can all make a simple difference by planting a few plants for them.

As we celebrate World Bee Day make an effort to add some pollinator environment to your yard. Native plants are the best because they have deep roots and don’t need watering or chemicals. I don’t trust some plants from garden stores, I worry about what they could have been sprayed and treated with?? We don’t want to plant for bees and butterflies only to add more chemicals to their bodies! Shop garden shops that can answer your questions. Native plants should be chemical free. Everyday we have an impact on our community, make it positive.

The reading list below has good suggestions for bee lawns. Bee balm, wild geranium, culvers root, milkweed, cone flowers, asters, and Joe Pye weed are some of my favorites for attracting both bees and butterflies.

Bee Balm

A garden workhorse for pollinators

Joe Pye Weed

Cone flowers

Bees like yellow flowers

Native plants have deep roots.

Reading List:

6 Ways to Transform Your Lawn Into an Eco-Friendly Oasis – EcoWatch

How to Turn Your Yard Into an Ecological Oasis | YES! Magazine (yesmagazine.org)

Angelina Jolie Raises Pollinator Awareness With Bee-Covered Portrait – EcoWatch 

Pollinator Lawn – Blue Thumb

Bee Lawns | Bee Lab (umn.edu)

To Help Save Bumble Bees, Plant These Flowers in Your Spring Garden – EcoWatch

Why You Should Grow a Lawn for Bees (treehugger.com)

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

Pollinator Garden Plants and Practices | Habitat Network (yardmap.org)

Gardening for Wildlife with Native Plants (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) 

30 Unique Plants That Attract Butterflies (treehugger.com)

Thriving Pollinators

The August yard
Cardinal flowers pop-up everywhere in my yard!

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!

Loving monarch butterflies
A monarch on swamp milkweed

Every yard should have purple cone flowers
Many pollinators like purple cone flowers.

 

 

hummingbirds love cardinal flowers
Cardinal flowers pop-up everywhere.

*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.

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

Be Healthier in 2018

  • Buy less stuff: Reuse, reuse and reuse the things you have
  • Reduce food waste: http://www.savethefood.com/
  • Drive less: Walk, bike, ride share, Carpool, combine errands, and take public transport.
  • Protect butterflies and bees: Add more pollinator friendly plants to your yard or balcony, and eliminate your use of pesticides, and all chemicals in your home. Your family, your pets, birds and butterflies will be much healthier.
  • Reduce or eliminate beef from your diet.  Producing beef uses lots of energy! Go meatless and fishless several days a week!
  • Reduce all plastic use, and recycle, recycle and recycle everything you can. Always work for zero waste.
  • Become a climatarian: Always consider the earth when you make decisions
  • Walk: Everyday get outside to enjoy nature.
  • Finally, work to elect leaders that believe in climate change, clean air and clean water, and support clean renewable energy solutions

Ways to be a better environmental steward from Ecowatch

From Earth911 ways to be more sustainable. Read at Earth911

Write a letter to your local officials

Our elegant monarch butterfly needs some help!
Our elegant monarch butterfly needs some help!

 

Butterfly Weed is blooming along some interstate highways.
Butterfly Weed is blooming along some interstate highways.

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.
Thank you,

Your name

Wisconsin energy co-ops to create monarch butterfly habitat 

Searching for milkweed along our interstate highways!
Searching for milkweed along our roads and highways!

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/05/26/i-35-bees-butterfly/

 

What is a rain garden?

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

A Win-Win for water!

It’s  raining this week where I live. How can we use all this water rushing into the storm drains and at the same time improve the quality of the water runs from our roofs, sidewalks, driveways and streets? This water picks up many pollutants as it races to our lakes and rivers. There are things we can do to lessen this pollution such as sweeping our driveways and sidewalks and not using chemicals on our lawns. A good way to clean this polluted run-off is to direct the water into a garden, a rain garden.  Today as it rains I can see the water rush into my rain gardens where my deep-rooted plants help clean this water as it drains into the earth below.  This past week I have been part of a team that installed two rain gardens. Both gardens captured water that would run into the Mississippi River. We had fun,  and were thrilled we helped to “plant for clean water.”

What is a rain garden?
The water that runs off our houses sidewalks, driveways and streets contains pollutants that run directly into our streams and lakes. A rain garden captures this water and the plants in the garden actually purify the water filtering out the pollutants. Like a friend said, “It’s like magic!”
An aspect of climate change is we can go for months without any precipitation then watch out…. inundation, too much rain. Rain gardens are a valuable tool to use and manage the water that falls on our properties. The plants should not need to be watered so we conserve water

Advantages of rain gardens:
1. They conserve water by managing rainfall

wp-1466029079838.jpeg
This is a narrow ditch for collecting run-off

2. Rain gardens filter out pollutants

3. Blooming plants add beauty to your yard

4. Rain gardens often use native plants that bees, birds and butterflies love.

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.

Digging the hole for the garden
Digging the hole for the garden

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.

Spreading the compost, next add the shredded mulch
Spreading the compost, next add the 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.

image

Our shade rain garden is almost finished
Our shade rain garden is almost finished

And from National Geographic, other ways to conserve water

From the Washington Post on managing water in your yard.

Questions? Leave a comment

 

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