Creating a lush garden brings an outdoor living space to life, and the best plants for the job are native varieties that teem with beneficial pollinators like bees, butterflies, and moths.
native and non-native fragrant flowers may be a feast for the human senses, only plants endemic to a region supply viable habitat for the pollinators that evolved with them.
Sadly, these native varieties are dwindling, as meadows and woodlands succumb to suburban sprawl.
In my area, flipping houses is all the rage, and creating curb appeal is the icing on the home-reno cake.
Making Pollinators a Priority
According to the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of invertebrate populations, “The United States alone grows more than 100 crops that either need or benefit from pollinators, and the economic value of these native pollinators is estimated at $3 billion per year in the US.”
Home gardeners can make a difference, one backyard at a time.
x ‘Blue Boa’ is a good option that’s available from Nature Hills Nursery, and it’s perfect for Zones 5 to 9.
Bee balm ( spp.) is another favorite. I find the tubular blossoms of my red variety appeal to hummingbirds. It’s a great host for bees, butterflies, moths, and wasps.
‘Leading Lady Lilac’ is available from Burpee, and grows well in Zones 4 to 9.
Another classic when it comes to growing for pollinators is black-eyed Susan (). Beloved by butterflies, its cheerful blossoms also attract bees and moths.
‘Deamii’ is available from Nature Hills Nursery, and ideal for Zones 4 to 8.
Blazing star () is a striking “line” flower, as floral designers say. Its tall spikes anchor gardens and draw the eye upward.
‘Spiked Gayfeather’ seeds are available from True Leaf Market, in 1-ounce, 4-ounce, and 500-milligram packages. Expect excellent results in Zones 3 to 9.
Another excellent way to create wildlife habitat is with native flowering fruit trees, like the Chickasaw plum (), and it’s available from Nature Hills Nursery.
Attractive to bees, butterflies, moths, and wasps, it also appeals to nesting songbirds in Zones 5 to 9.
Purple coneflower () is another nectar-rich flower I give room to roam in my gardens. It draws bees, butterflies, wasps, and the bright yellow goldfinches I love to watch at the feeder.
Seeds are available from True Leaf Market. You may purchase 1-ounce, 4-ounce, 1-pound, or 1-gram packages to sow in Zones 3 to 10.
In addition to providing food, native species provide shelter.
milkweed ( spp.), a marvel in Zones 3 to 9. It lays eggs and grows a family, before setting off on its epic migration.
In addition, endemic ornamental grasses like bluestem ( spp.), which grows in Zones 3 to 9, attract butterflies and sustain an array of beneficial insects.
A flower I absolutely adore is the gentle giant, joe-pye weed (). I introduced it to my yard when I needed a tall native for a property border dominated by a black walnut tree.
Their shades of blue and purple are stunning in mass plantings, and they are beneficial insect magnets.
native vines like trumpet vine () make excellent camouflage not only for fences and walls, but for the wildlife who make their homes inside the intertwined foliage.
material on your compost pile. Amend the soil as needed and work it to a depth of about a foot, until it’s loose and crumbly.
Establishing new gardens is challenging, as weeds love to seed themselves in vulnerable, bare earth. Cover-cropping is a great technique for inhibiting weeds, preventing erosion, and enriching the soil of works in progress. I like to use clover () to cover fallow veggie gardens, because its blossoms appeal to bees, butterflies, moths, and wasps.
Define Your Garden Style
Next, define the style of the plot. Depending on its size and location, you have a number of options. Here are some ideas:
This location may be an “island” that stands alone. In this case, sow the tallest varieties in the center.
Allow space for all vegetation to achieve mature dimensions, and work your way out toward the edges of the plot.
Use shorter and shorter plants to create a cascade of heights. In this way, all varieties receive light and water, and the appearance is balanced and attractive.
Alternatively, you might want to establish a border around the house.
Its area must be generous to accommodate all plants at their mature dimensions. Place your tallest varieties at the back and work your way forward with shorter and shorter species.
For free-standing borders, such as those along a driveway, determine the dimensions required to accommodate your plants at maturity and space accordingly.
Place the tallest ones along an imaginary center line that runs the length of the plot. Work your way outward with shorter and shorter types on both sides of the high center line.
If these traditional styles don’t suit your tastes, consider English cottage gardening, in which short and tall varieties mingle at random.
The trick is to build layers by densely sowing your shortest varieties, followed by sporadic placements of several taller varieties.
In addition, you may have an expanse of land that is currently a lawn. Why not churn it up and seed it with native wildflower seeds?
It’s a great way to reduce yard work and contribute habitat to essential pollinators.
A Wildflower Seed Meadow Mix is available from True Leaf Market.
Choose a Color Scheme
Next you’ll need to get creative with your color scheme. Pick out your favorites and choose a style that’s uniquely yours.