Helping out our pollinators.
Well it seems to be melting! Although the snow keeps coming back in spurts it seems like we're heading in the right direction towards growing things once again! As we head in this direction I want to take a moment for everyone to think about some of our hardest working gardeners out there: bees and all other pollinators.
As you may have heard bees are declining rapidly through many reasons. Some of them are man made, and some of them like certain fungus and mites from nature. Whatever the case, pollinators are a super important part of our gardening lives because without bees and other pollinators we will not be able to get our veggies or fruits without a lot of q-tips going from one flower to another. As the snow begins to melt let's think of some ways that we can help those pollinators in our area.
The 1st way is not very pleasant for many people, especially those who take great pride in their lawns. However one of the 1st flowers that will ever pop up in the spring is going to be the much hated dandelion. Although dandelions are certainly weeds that I have spent more than my in my desired share of life yanking out of the ground I have recently learned how important they are to the pollinators 1st thing in the spring.
They represent a vital food crop especially when a lot of other flowers don't begin blooming until much later and dandelions probably will have bloomed once or twice by then. Allowing some dandelions to grow in your yard helps all pollinators which will attract them to your yard, which will then attract them to your garden, which will bring a bigger crop. Now obviously this isn't going to be a choice some people are going to want to take as the hatred of dandelions is long standing and extremely fierce throughout our society however it's just food for thought and more importantly it's food for the bees.
If the thought of the yellow flowers dotting your lawn makes you want to break out in hives (no pun intended… or is it?) Another way you can help early pollinators is by planting plants that you do like that will come up very early. Bulbs like crocuses and tulips planted in the fall are one of the 1st things to pop up out of the ground in the spring or you can grow flowers such as pansies which are frost hardy and can be placed out in flower pots and hanging baskets within the next few weeks. I let some of my pansies seed themselves last year and found a clump of them growing under the snow already. They should be flowering within the next couple of weeks right alongside those 1st dandelions.
Another great option are shrubs that bloom super early. These shrubs such as forsythia and double flowering plum create flower buds in the fall before they go dormant and said buds boom before the plants leaf out. These shrubs are Manitoba hardy and very beautiful but you must remember not to prune them in the fall when they've already established where their buds are going to be for the spring.
As the Spring goes on if you want to create a yard which will be filled with pollinators and will also help your garden don't forget to check out this list of perennial perennial favourites for all pollinators including the much more loved pollinators such as butterflies. See the websites at the bottom of the page for ideas.
Pollinators are such an important part of our garden's success and in order to set up these little helpers we need to create environments for them to thrive. There are many people who have let their yards be taken over in order to attract pollinators. However this is a big change and not everybody gets ready for it. If you want to help some bees a little bit and you don't have much room or you're not willing to commit to losing your view of a beautiful green lawn, planting some flowering shrubs or even a beautiful flowering crabapple can be a great way to encourage pollinators in your area.
However don't forget if you're going to try to attract pollinators and you still are using heavy pesticides in your garden and your lawn; you're going to be end up killing them so try to either choose one or another either you want to attract pollinators to your yard or try to discourage them from your yards so that they do not die from the pesticides you plan to use.
Pollinator plant list - Click Here
How to create a pollinator friendly garden - Click Here