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Designing a Pollinator Garden

First, we need to get the puns out of the way.

  • Have you heard the buzz about pollinator gardens?

  • Bee sure to include these pollinator-friendly plants in your yard!

  • Hive been meaning to post about pollinators for a while now.

Declining bee and butterfly populations have been in the news a lot lately. Factors such as climate change, loss of habitat, and pesticide use have contributed to these shrinking numbers.

"Who cares?" you think to yourself, "Bees sting. I hate them."

According to Cornell up to 90% of flowering plants and 1,200 agricultural crops rely entirely on pollinators. So if you like food or flowers, you have a horse in this race.

The good news? We can provide food and shelter for our winged friends by incorporating pollinator-friendly plants into our landscaping.

If you have an interest in this topic I strongly recommend you read Doug Tallamay's Bringing Nature Home. Or anything by Doug Tallamay for that matter. He offers practical, easy-to-follow advice on changes you can make to encourage biodiversity in your yard. My kind of guy!

"How do I get started?"

I recommend following these General Guidelines provided by the Cornell Cooperative Extension. In a nutshell: be sure to pick an area that gets 6+ hours of sun, plant in groups of two or three, and try to select native varieties.

"What plants should I use?"

These are plants I frequently use in designs. They are easy to find at local nurseries, and the enterprising individual could start many of these from seed.







"But I don't recognize those plant names and I'm far too busy to learn how to take care of them."

More good news! Many pollinator-friendly plants are native to our area and well-adapted to our climate. This means they require less water, less fertilizer, and are less likely to take over your beds. In most cases you can "plant and forget".

"Ok fine, do all of these need to be planted together to work?"

Nope. You can intersperse plants from this list throughout your existing beds. Just keep in mind the mature size and light requirements of the plant when choosing a spot.

"Remember how busy I am? Could you go ahead and do a few hypothetical layouts so I don't have to figure it out on my own?"

That's why I'm here.


Patio or deck beds

Garden Details

plants- bee balm, delphinium, sedum, potentilla, New England aster, agastache, cosmos, and phlox

light- full to part sun

garden style- cottage


Front beds

Garden Details

plants: azalea, coreopsis, aster, little bluestem, salvia, sedum, rose, zinnia light- full to part sun garden style- traditional/residential


"My Neighbor Just Got an RV and I Can't Stand Looking At It" bed

(option 1)

Garden Details

plants: rose of Sharon, baptisia, liatris, rudbeckia, cardinal flower, winterberry holly, hardy geranium, oxeye sunflower light: full to part sun garden style: cottage


"My Neighbor Just Got an RV and I Can't Stand Looking At It" bed

(option 2)

Garden Details

plants: white oak light: full to part sun garden style: obstructive

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