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A positive change

One of the biggest positive changes, in my opinion, since COVID started is that we have turned back to some of the simpler things in life one of which is gardening. There are so many of us now making our backyards our own little oasis or our private garden of Eden. It is like an extension of our living rooms complete, at times, with televisions and even some special furniture.

As we plant flowers in our gardens, we are doing more for just our own well-being and mental health but it also helps pollinators. Through each and everyone’s differences on what they like for flowers, shrubs and trees, we are making our natural environment more pollinator friendly. 80% of the food we eat needs pollinators such as bees to pollinate the flowers on the plants in order to make those good things to eat for us and even for our livestock. Pollinators, in turn, need these plants in order to survive. Pollen provides protein for most pollinators and nectar provides carbohydrates for both pollinators and other bird species such as hummingbirds.

With some thoughtful choices, we can add plants to our gardens to provide pollen and nectar from spring to fall for our pollinators. A couple of ideas for early season plants to choose from are the following: Hawthorn, Beardtongue and Pussy Willow. Midsummer plants can include: Goatsbeard, Swamp milkweed, and Joe-Pye Weed. Late summer into fall plants can include: Stiff Goldenrod, Asters, and Yellow Coneflower.

The “new” way to plant perennial flowers is to plant only non-hybridized perennial flowers that are native to our area. Several are on display at the pollinator garden at the fairgrounds. There are several types of Goldenrod, which will flower later this fall. Several kinds of milkweed, and grasses (Big and Little Bluestem, Indiangrass, Cordgrass, etc.) are on display along with Black Eyed Susan, Beardtongue, and Porcupine Sedges.

Grasses are also important as many butterfly species use particular species of grass to make their cocoons in and also for their eggs. Shrubs also play an important part of helping out our pollinators and they include: Red Twigged Dogwood, Regent Serviceberry, Nannyberry, Miniature Snowflake Mockorange and Miss Kim Lilac.

If you are looking for trees to add to your list, try these favorites: Red Splendor Crabapple, Showy Mountain Ash (this is not in the ash family so you don’t have to worry about Emerald Ash Borer), Red Maple, and just about any kind of apple tree or other fruit tree.

While many of us enjoy the green perfect lawn, the truth about these lawns is that they don’t help insects out very much because they are a “food desert” meaning there isn’t anything growing in these lawns for pollinators to feed on. While I am enjoying working on a large lawn reconstruction, which includes removing a large portion of a regular lawn and turning it into a pollinator lawn complete with native plants, it does take time to do these things and it is important to make sure that pollinator lawns are welcomed in your town with your neighbors. It would be a good thing to be in touch with your city clerk before moving forward with such a radical change in order to make sure that your neighbors are on board as well. If this is something that you do not want to tackle, then making a smaller pollinator garden may be a better solution

For more information about gardening for pollinators, please go to https://extension.umn.edu/lawns-and-landscapes/flowers-pollinators#create-a-pollinator-friendly-landscape-1130060

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com

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