Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Spring and This Gardener's Thoughts Are On Pollinators!

Phacelia bipinnatifida with a good friend
I can't help it! My thoughts almost always go to pollinators.

Golden Ragwort with friend this week
You can't blame a gardener for getting excited. The bees have been out and about since late winter; and, now the beetles, hoverflies, skippers and the butterflies are here.

Hover Fly enjoying kale flowers
The garden centers are fully stocked and as a certified plantaholic~I have to remind myself every time I visit a nursery to honor my garden rules for plant acquisition!
  • Will they survive the difficult conditions at Clay and Limestone?
  • Is this plant a nectar or pollen source for pollinators?
  • Is it a host plant for pollinators?
  • Is this plant available locally, therefore, more likely to survive the extremes of the Central Basin?
  • Will this plant add to the diversity of my pollinator friendly garden?
  • Is there a native plant that makes more sense then that seductive exotic?

Pollinators are important in the food web
Let me be perfectly honest! Even though the preferred plant in my garden is a native that is endemic to the Central South/Cedar Basin, I have garden friendly exotics snuggled right next to them. I truly cannot imagine gardening without spring bulbs, herbs, lantana, native wildflowers from the Southeastern USA, zinnias, and my beloved daylilies.

My thoughts are almost always on how I can make my garden pollinator friendly, lovely to look at and fun to visit.


PS If you want to attract pollinators to your garden:
  • provide nesting sites for a variety of visitors, some bare ground (ixnay on the plastic landscape cloth), decaying logs and even special bee houses
  • plant large swathes of pollinator friendly plants and host plants
  • plan for bloom from late winter to late fall
  • bee sure to include water

PPS. Because it bears repeating~ Never, never, never, ever, use pesticides in your garden.

PPPS! I've been meaning to link to Clare/Curbstone Valley's wonderful posts on bees and bee keeping. Go here to see her most recent one.

This post is part of a series on native pollinators in the garden~ Earlier posts and their links are listed below for your convenience.

Part I~Now Is The Time To Bee-gin Thinking About Bees ( here)
This Is The Place To Bee ( here)
If You Could Plant Only One Plant In Your Garden~Don't (here)

Must Bee The Season of The Witch (here)
Go Bare In Your Garden (here)
We can't All be pretty Pollinators (here)
Eye, Eye Skipper, Big Eyed Pollinators (here)
What's In Your Garden (here)
Carpenter Bees (here)
Got Wildflowers?(here)

Other bee posts you might want to read~
Count Yourself Lucky To Have Hoverflies (here)
Bumblebee Hotel (here)
Still Taking Care Of Bzzness (here)
My Sweet Embraceable You (here)

This post was written by Gail Eichelberger for my blog Clay and Limestone Copyright 2011.This work protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. Great information Gail and wonderful pictures of your beloved bees and other pollinators. I also consider whether there is enough food in my garden for my little friends. The daylilies make the little frogs happy btw because they like to nestle in their early opening blooms.~~Dee

  2. Dee, That's so cool to know about the froggies! I want a pond!!! gail

  3. You are the pollinator's champion, dear Gail, kudos! Your garden looks lovely and inviting to humans and insects alike. :-)

  4. Couldn't agree more! Pollinators are a blessing to the garden and I'm so happy to have them here in mine. Just yesterday at the Gulf Coast penstemon there were so many bees the plant was dancing! Happy Spring Gail!

  5. How wonderful it must bee to see so many pollenators so early in the season! We have Carpenter Bees buzzing around but no butterflies just yet. I can't wait;-)

  6. Hi Gail!
    You're so good at reinforcing the value of pollinators! You have so many in your garden ~ I can't believe there are butterflies already! Haven't seen any here yet and probably won't for at least another month.
    No problem restraining yet on the plant purchases either since our nurseries are not fully stocked ~ one more month tho and I may have to come back and re-read your reminder!
    Are you going to get your stock pond set up this year??

  7. Thank you for the link Gail! Our thoughts have definitely beeeen on bees lately. I couldn't agree more with your garden rules for plant acquisition. We have a few well tempered exotics too, as most of our natives are dormant in late summer when the bees need to store nectar and pollen for winter. The most buzzing bee plant I saw this weekend was near our local harbor, the Pride of Madiera (Echium candicans), and the buzzy bees had violet blue pollen in their pollen baskets. Bumbles, honeybees, native bees, the whole plant was humming. The bees looked so happy, but sadly here that exotic is invasive here on the coast. I've never been so torn in my life about a plant :(

  8. I'm kicking myself for not having sown some Phacelia up at the allotment. Not too late, will take some up on my next trip - thank you for the reminder!

  9. If I were a pollinator, I would like to BEE in your garden :-)

  10. Well, we all know what everyone's thoughts turn to in the spring...

    Great post, and I too am enchanted with the Curbstonevalley hive. Then there's the native pollinators. It's just fun!

  11. Hi Gail. I find myself thinking about pollinators more when purchasing or growing plants now too. More so since I have saw such a decline in the Honeybees around my home.It has also caused me to now watch more on the ways I get rid of some pests without killing the pollinating insects.

  12. I love your pollinator pictures. Your love for these creatures really shines through.
    Today I saw the first bumblebee. I tried to get a photo, but I scared it away. What a change from last fall, when I could stand right next to them & they didn't care.

  13. Bees, butterflies, toads and frogs, hummingbirds, winter birds, and, again, No Pesticides! :-) Best wishes, Gail. You have a lovely blog. btw: how are you able to have your photos be so large? I know I've read the instructions somewhere, but it's been a long while. Thanks, friend!

  14. It's an exciting time, waiting for the buzzing friends to come by, though lucky you to have had bees since late winter! Just beginning to notice a buzz in the air around central CT - love your vibrant pictures!

  15. Lovely pictures! I have yet to see any bees around here but now that things are slowly starting to bloom hopefully some will be along soon.

  16. In the last few years I have been more aware of the importance of protecting the environment and planting more native plants. We have never been big on any pesticide at the Sandbox. We love to see the insects as well as the plants. I am guilty though of lusting after and exotic. Good post Gail. V

  17. Great pollinators...I caught a new pollinator in my garden...I will be posting the pic on Friday...Eastern Comma butterfly...absolutely gorgeous...I was like a little kid when I saw it and caught some great pics...

  18. Really great photos you took of the pollinators. I liked your purchase rules too. I noticed last year that the bees returned in my garden unexpectedly after years of decline. I am hoping this is a good sign. I look forward to them buzzing back again, all shapes and sizes too.

  19. Nice info, Gail. I always try unlikely plants here :D and experiment with them - I just can't resist them temptation of growing exotics though.

  20. I'm having to think like that aswell now before I make a purchase. I just bought some teasel for my pollinators - a plant that years ago I would have ignored but not nowadays.

  21. I saw my first bumblebee in the garden yesterday! I was so excited, but I was cleaning up the area, and of course didn't have my camera with me. Beautiful photos as always, Gail. The last one is a good reminder that a lot of annuals are favorites of the pollinators, too. My lantana was a butterfly magnet last year--I'll definitely be planting more of it this spring!

  22. Great post--the pollinators will thank you. I did not dig up my garden this spring because it was so wet. Henbit with an amazing number of wild bees, honey bees, carpenter bees, and wasps are all over it so I hesitate to dig it until it's gone. Maybe this was the way to go.

    I try to buy plants that appeal to the pollinators as well. If honey bees are all over the flowers, then I know it will be good for my honey bees.

  23. Wow! So glad I found your blog site! Your photos are outstanding and love your love of all things pollinating on our behalf! I just got a swarm of honeybees settling in the branches of my front yard oak tree...wish I had a hive to tempt them into moving in!

  24. Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.comApril 13, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    This is lovely! I'm excited about bees and hoverers and teeny flies, too! I'm taking such delight in how much the bees like the borage, in full blossom! This is a beautiful informative post. Thanks!

  25. For me, one of the hallmarks of my garden's health has become the number of pollinators the garden attracts and nourishes. We're still pretty cold up here in northern Colorado, but Spring is coming... so the calendar says ;)

  26. How wonderful that these pollinators arein your garden Gail. I saw the FOY (first of the year) Tiger Swallowtail this past weekend. None in my garden yet. It is such an exciting time of year when our pollinator friends once again grace our garden.

  27. I love this post, Gail. It always feels good to me to think about what will use this plant (eg, does this plant work for a living).

    And pollinators are so under siege, with the barrage of everything from 'bug-b-gone' to imidacloprid and its relatives. Yikes.

    But, I'm like you -- I do make room for tulips, camellias, and other plants that make me happy just because they're beautiful!


  28. Ooo, I love the picture of the wasp on the ragwort and the Swallowtail. Perfectly beautiful.

    Gail these have been an excellent series of posts. I have enjoyed them very much!

  29. Gail, I so agree with Sweetbay! Your series about pollinators is simply superb. The illustrations of your beautiful photographs so inspiring too. Stunning Swallowtail shot in this post!


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson