It is currently winter and this is when we start to dream about spring and what we will plant in our gardens. I am an avid gardener throughout most seasons in my life. I have had very large vegetable and flower gardens and now our landscaping isn’t the stereotypical one that has carefully selected shrubs, grasses and ornamental trees that are the epitome of Colorado landscapes. I describe ours as creative chaos full of flowers of various kinds and very bee-friendly!
I find it interesting to read posts in neighborhood and local forums and various social media sites from concerned citizens, worried about our pollinators. I have asked some of them if they have any flowers or flowering shrubs in their landscapes and often get no response. I am glad people are worried about our pollinator population and it is a simple one to solve. Plant more flowers and flowering shrubs. A common misconception is dandelions are bees’ critical first food. This isn’t the case. Bees’ first choice is tree pollen and early spring flowers and dandelions are a last resort if other pollen is not available.
My daughters’ brought home beautiful silken milk weed seeds and wanted to plant them. I said yes. While chatting with our next-door neighbor he reached over onto our property pulled them out of our flower bed. He said those are weeds. To us, those are beautiful welcome mats to monarch butterflies to lay their eggs. Each year, we faithfully check for eggs but have never seen caterpillars on them yet… We are a hopeful family and will have milkweed in our “butterfly/pollinator flower bed” each year.
What do we have in our yard that makes it pollinator friendly? A variety of flowering plants that bloom from spring to late fall. Bulbs in the spring such as daffodils, tulips, crocuses, violas, pansies, early spring ground covers and a lilac bush, for example. Bees and other pollinators love our butterfly bushes, roses, huge variety of coreopsis flowers, zinnias, poppies, dianthus, hollyhocks, cosmos, and too many to mention. In fall, mums, Russian sage and sedum and other frost resistant flowers continue to provide color and food sources.
Some years certain flowers do better than others. This last year I was actually hacking our cosmos back to keep our sidewalk path to our home accessible weekly! I love to see the hummingbirds flit about and see insects sleeping in our hollyhock flowers! I love to hear the hum of the bumblebees and honeybees outside.
I encourage my fellow Coloradoans to think outside the stereotypical landscape and think more English garden. The first food of bees doesn’t have to be dandelions in your lawn but lovely flowers that delight them and you alike. Learn more : https://www.gardenmyths.com/dandelions-important-bees/