Pollinator Heaven

I have been drawn to the Pollinator Garden lately. I can’t pass by this area without walking over to get a closer look. We established this garden in the meadow five years ago. It allowed us to use all of our favorite pollinator-friendly plants in one place and gently blend it into the grassy meadow beyond. These plants are often large and unwieldy, but their value to the environment is even bigger than that. Pollinator gardens have been an increasing trend in recent years and I could not be happier. If we all planted with pollinators and wildlife in mind, I believe the world would be a better place. 

Zinnias with feathertop grass (Pennisetum villosum)

The Pollinator Garden truly comes into its own as the summer rolls into mid-August. The zinnias we planted in late spring are now treating us (and the pollinators) to pops of color throughout the garden. The candy colors are just what I crave in the midst of the blue-gray tones of our many mountain mint plants (Pycnanthemum muticum and P. verticillatum). Mountain mint is a prolific plant that spreads and blooms with abandon. It can become a garden thug if it is not reined in every few years. It is, however, one of the very best plants for pollinators. Don’t just take my word for it, check out some of the pollinators I captured in one 20 minute visit to the garden. (There were many more, but they did not all stay still enough to get their pictures included here.)

The bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) that freely self sows throughout the garden is another well-loved pollinator plant. I often see at least half a dozen different kinds of pollinators enjoying the delicious flowers. Yellowjackets seem to be particularly fond of this plant. While I am aware that yellowjackets are not a beloved pollinator, they are a pollinator nonetheless. No insect is without its worth. I have stood right next to them many times in the garden and have never been bothered. When they are focused on enjoying a plant, that is all that they are focused on and they do not care one bit about me (thankfully). Also, note the tiny pollinator in the picture below right. I was taken in by this one and if anyone has an identification for it, I would be glad to know it. 

I want to spend a moment in celebration of the bumblebee I saw on Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) this afternoon. This guy was completely loaded down with pollen, so much so that he was barely lifting his legs to get from one flower to another (you can see the pollen packs on his hind legs in the picture below). His determination and strength was impressive.

Bumblebee with heavy pollen packs on Joe Pye Weed

As we all journey through this uncertain time, I hope we can find the determination and strength we need for each day. If you need encouragement or rest for your heart, come take a walk at Blithewold. Observe the bees, birds, and wildlife that call the grounds their home. They have so much to teach all of us. Time spent in nature is always time well spent. 

We are open Tuesday – Sunday. Please visit our website for more information. We look forward to seeing you.