by Meagan Provencher, Natural Resources Commissioner
There is nothing better than seeing all kinds of winged visitors in your garden. Butterflies dive-bombing the butterfly weed, hummingbirds buzzing around the salvia, tiny bees and insects visiting all the flowers in the garden. It’s fun to watch them go about their busy lives with no care for us.
It’s very easy to get these winged friends to visit our gardens. Even if you add just a few things they love, your pollinator population will increase substantially.
When I first purchased my home in downtown STC, there were only one or two trees on the property that had any sort of value to the ecosystem. The rest were junk shrubs like honeysuckle, buckthorn, and old plums, as well as poison ivy, bishop’s weed, and a lot of turf grass. I removed all unwanted plant material and replaced it with new perennials, grasses, trees, shrubs, annuals, and even vegetables. All of a sudden our yard was alive with the sights and sounds of pollinators, many bird species and even some squirrel friends (much to my dog’s chagrin). It was amazing how fast they came to visit us after years of nothing being in the yard. I planted perennials such as Joe Pye weed, bee balm, salvias, phlox, lavender, hostas, and more – not only did I get diverse bloom times, but I immediately got Swallowtail and Monarch butterflies in the yard. For cut flowers, I planted zinnias, tithonia, and gomprena and soon I had butterflies and hummingbirds enjoying the gorgeous blooms. I had never seen a single Goldfinch in my yard until I planted some sunflower seeds I found in my junk drawer! I’ve created this buzzing ecosystem in my backyard with little to no thought other than to plant things that I love and know that pollinators will love.
You don’t have to be fancy or spend a lot of money. Stop at your local garden center and ask about pollinator friendly plants and I bet just a few days after you plant, you’ll see some new friends buzzing around. “If you build it, they will come!”