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

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Wildflower Wednesday: A Challenge For 2022

 I've been posting Wildflower Wednesdays for 13 years. To quote a post from May 2009~

Wildflower Wednesday started out as a regular post to celebrate the wildflowers in my garden. It's been a fun way to introduce you to my soul mates! I treasure them and love sharing them. They grow with ease if planted in the right spot and they draw native fauna, like bees, birds and butterflies to the garden. There are articles all over the internet extolling their virtues. You've read many, I'm sure! Here's how I sum it up~Native wildflowers are good for the earth and good for its inhabitants. (Here for the post)


Hamamelis vernalis blooming now

Of course I still love wildflowers and of course I plan to continue sharing them on the Fourth Wednesday of every month, but, it's time to shake it up with a challenge. 

A two part challenge!


The first part of this challenge is to do something every month during 2022 that supports native wildflowers, pollinators, and the critters that visit and rely on our gardens. Activities that increase our knowledge of the natural world are equally as valuable. Below you'll find a list of possible activities you could do...If you choose to participate! But, don't limit yourself to my list, make your own list or check out the internet for ideas.

The second part of the challenge is to post about it somewhere: Your blog; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or even your neighborhood listserve. 

An ex-aster in winter

Why post it?  Because positive publicity is needed to educate our friends, neighbors and communities about how important even the smallest changes we make as gardeners can be for pollinators, birds, insects and mammals that live all around us. 

Why now?  My neighborhood is changing. Yours might be, too. Every day a 1950s ranch along with many of the mature oak, hickory and hackberry trees that have been there for over 75 years are bulldozed down. In place of the "bee lawns" composed of Salvia lyrata, Ruellia humilis, fleabane, Western Daisy, violets, self-heal, clovers, Dandelions that grew so well in the shallow soil that sits on top of limestone bedrock are sodded non-native lawns that get daily watering, whether it rains or not. Gone are the lightening bugs. Gone are the ground dwelling/nesting native bees. Gone is the habitat for insects, spiders and other critters. Gone is plant diversity. Gone are trees that provided for hundreds of moths, butterflies and other insects. Gone are the nesting sites for woodpeckers, hummingbirds, Chickadees and other birds. It breaks my heart. We can't stop the multi-million dollar houses from going up, but, maybe we can make a lot of educational noise and help our new neighbors see the value in providing for critters.

A gardener can hope!


An incomplete list of things you might consider doing or changing in your garden

Shrink your lawn and make your planting beds larger.

Plant your favorite native perennials and shrubs. Leave them standing after they've gone to seed to continue to provide for wildlife. What you plant in your yard makes a difference to wildlife. I garden for wildlife so every tree, shrub and plant is chosen with wildlife in mind.

Plant more natives and then consider planting even more. "A typical suburban landscape contains only 20-30% native plant species. Try reversing that trend in your own landscape by using 70-80% native species." (source

Commit to never, ever, ever, ever using pesticides in the garden.

Stay away from native plant hybrids and cultivars that are double flowered. They are sterile and have no pollen or nectar for insects and no seeds for the birds. If possible plant “true open-pollinated native wildflowers”

If you want to garden for wildlife and pollinators, don't let lack of space stop you! Plant your favorite wildflowers in large containers. You just might have the prairie or woodland garden you've always wanted...in a pot!
Create a water feature. Provide water year round that is accessible to birds, bees and other critters.

Show some soil! Our native ground nesting bees nest in bare soil, so don't mulch every square inch of your garden. 

Invite bugs into your garden. Plant annuals that attract beneficial bugs.

Learn to tolerate damaged plants. Imperfection is the new perfect.

Don't be in a rush to clean up the fall garden. Leave plant stalks and seed heads standing all winter. Leave those fallen leaves or as many as you can tolerate! Insects over winter in the fallen and decaying leaves.

Leave a layer of leaves as a soft landing material under trees for moths and butterflies to over winter. Many caterpillars drop to the ground from the trees in the fall.

Make a brush pile. Stack fallen brush, cut tree limbs, broken pots for ground beetles. Ground beetles are excellent at eating "bad bugs'. They're also good bird, toad and small critter food. 

Rethink what you consider a pest. Lots of good bugs eat aphids. Spiders are important predators and bird food!

Add nesting boxes for birds.

Plant shrubs and small trees that provide berries and nuts.

Keep a nature journal: Observe visitors to the water feature, make note of when they visit. Notice which flowers attract the most pollinators and which ones are just pretty faces. 

Join your state native plant society.

Join WildOnes even if there's no local group.

Take an online course on tree, fungi and wildflower id.

Take a walk in your neighborhood and observe nature. To quote Joanna Brichetto in Sidewalk Nature "Look Around. Nature is here, is us, our driveways, our baseboards, parks, and parking lots."

Buy the best wildflower, butterfly and bird id books for your state.

Read nature books to your children and grandchildren. 

Read! There are hundreds of books on gardening for wildlife, the environment, and rewilding our world. There are delightful blogs with wonderful and informative articles.

Please make suggestions to improve this list!

Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday.  This day is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.

Please leave your links in comments,  I am not using Mr Linky.

Keep warm and keep positive,



The sunny areas are the shallowest so I add containers

  Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. Hi Gail! I enjoyed your post, and do most of the things on your list. I don't remember if you suggested waiting until the plants are up a bit in the spring before cutting back the previous year's growth, and to leave I am thinking a couple feet of the stems for bees to nest in. I see my blog that I have neglected is still on your list, but I was given a link to start a blog, as if I don't have one. I'll have to click on it and see where it takes me. I do think it has been spammed somehow over the years.

    1. Hi Sue, I am not surprised that you do most of the listed items. I do miss your blog!

  2. This is wonderful, Gail. Congratulations on your years of Wildflower Wednesday. Cheers! Yes, I am seeing similar "developments" here. Also, expansions of the suburbs into previously wild areas. It's hard to watch. I will try to post more often on Wildflower Wednesdays this year, and I'll continue to post about the other challenges you mention, too. Happy 2022. :)

  3. Challenge Accepted!! I'm not on any of the traditional social media sites, so I will be breaking into and educating a whole new social group on MeWe with a new page just about my wildlife garden!

  4. What a great post, Gail! I do all that I can, of course, and I think I do most of what's on your list. An excellent list, to be sure.

    Thankfully a new Wild Ones chapter popped up in Western North Carolina recently. I learned about it via a search, after a great talk by a Wild Ones board member in the OSU Bee Lab series of presentations. I was on a lovely Zoom membership meeting this evening. Nice. It's about connection, too, among all the various folks who are trying to do the right thing stewarding their landscapes.

    1. Lisa, How delightful to have a WildOnes Chapter near you. We have one in middle TN and I love it. Of course, I am not surprised that you do all those things listed! xogail

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  6. Great post Gail! I love your WW posts and enjoyed contributing! I do all the things you've listed and have tried to educate my neighborhood but sadly have not made much progress. I have given tours of my garden to various groups to inspire change and that has been effective because these are folks who are open to learning and interested in making a difference (unlike my neighbors).

  7. One more. iNaturalist is a good way to name wildflowers we see out hiking, and that bug on that flower, that bird over there.

  8. Most of my property is native plants, and it is true, the butterflies and birds love being here. Thanks for all the encouragement you give to others about natives. Great!

  9. I love the challenge and will be looking for more ideas. I have a native garden post coming next week.

  10. I appreciate your passion Gail, and I’m doing my small part!


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