It’s not uncommon for pollinators, bees, and butterflies, to be drawn to new plants, still in their pots, waiting to be planted. When this happens now, I’m not surprised for we’ve created a rather extensive garden at our office – one that’s teaming with pollinator activity. I was surprised when it first happened as I was just starting the planting process and only a few plants were installed. I had a collection of flats and potted plants around me as I sat one afternoon, looking out at the empty garden space contemplating where I would start planting. As I pondered, the bees began to arrive and took advantage of the yet-to-be-planted plants. The garden wasn’t even a week old, and we were attracting pollinators!
When clients ask, will the pollinators be able to find the garden? I can, without hesitation, answer, yes.
These fabulous creatures are here, just looking for a place to settle in. If my yet-to-be-planted plants were drawing in the pollinators, imagine how attractive your garden will be after it’s had a chance to grow for a few weeks or a summer?
Our new pollinator garden in the back is coming into its first autumn season. It was created with a mix of plugs and potted plants, planted over many weeks. Today, the plants that started as plugs are so robust one can’t tell which was a plug and which was a potted plant to start. Everything has grown incredibly well. The color from a wide variety of blooming plants started in earnest in the spring and is yet to taper. As one plant’s blooms begin to fade, another plant’s blooms are just entering the garden scene. But it’s not just visually appealing, this garden touches all of our senses. There’s a constant vibration, a hum, punctuated by chirps and bursts of bird song all set to a backdrop of the constant whirl of crickets. You can close your eyes and hear the heavy pollinator activity: it’s truly marvelous.
There are a few reasons why the pollinators are so abundant in our gardens. We plant lush. Where I see a garden that can still accept more plants, many people see a densely planted garden. The reason is, for too many years, we have been programed to believe that plants need to be isolated, set far apart from each other and protected with a ring of mulch. In our pollinator gardens, plants touch, blend, meld into each other: it’s an intermingled garden. To see pine straw is a sign that I need more plants. More plants are simply more nectar, more host plants, and more habitat for the pollinators.
Chemicals are not welcome in the gardens. Weeds are pulled by hand and unwanted insects are kept in balance by beneficial insects.
We select plants with varying bloom times. Our gardens have something in bloom from the first hints of spring to the first hard frost.
And finally, we leave the gardens standing through winter. All the wonderful pollinators we invited into our garden have a safe place to ride out the cold season. The gardens are not cut back until the spring.
If you plant it, they will come. If you plant lush and leave the garden standing through the winter months, they will come and stay in droves.