Have you heard? There is a decline in pollinators in our fair world. For those of us not familiar with Plant biology here is the down and dirty... Many plants need pollen from other plants to produce "fruit" (things that we like to eat from nuts to apples to squash...think about it, when you break it down everything we eat is a "fruit" from something---EVEN the meat-eaters out there are eating corn through the food chain) Pollen can be spread by the wind, water, animals, and insects.
It is these little workers that have been weighing on my mind lately. I am an avid reader of our little daily paper (It is pretty bad in terms of writing, but it is what I've got.) and in the last year I have read at least 3 large articles talking about the decline of bee populations. This makes me think that the problem is getting serious if a town daily has reported on something formerly of only "scientific" importance...I guess, like the whole "myth" of global warming, the decline of pollinating species is becoming mainstream.
I like to eat. I like gardening. I like a world full of living green things.
So, I am proposing something rather radical--let's stop spraying chemicals on our land (see previous neighbor rant post) AND let's plant some pollinator friendly plants. My theory is just this...if you plant it they will come (wasn't that from a movie??)
I have noticed over the past 8 years, in my garden, that the (friendly) insect levels have increased year after year. Due in part to some of the bushes and plants here and there in the yard that they can use as habitat and a food source. I believe that they in turn stay around to pollinate my food plants and eat some of the pests. I choose to think of my yard as a micro-ecosystem, if you please. Some of my easiest keepers (that are pollinator friendly) are:
Ceanothus (California Lilac)-- I love this bush. It grows fast, but is amendable to shaping and the "blue" flowers are so pretty. ALSO this lovely plant is drought tolerant after it is established.(I have tested this)
Rosemary-- I love this too. The bushes grow the most beautiful sculptural branches. You can cook with it, and it smells good too.
Raspberries-- LOVE THIS BERRY. I have planted a few different varieties so that I can have berries all summer. (the early summer berries are always the tastiest, but I would never turn down those last berries in September.)
Butterfly bushes-- In my state I believe that this plant is going to go on an invasive plant list in the near future, if it isn't already there....BUT I think for town dwellers this is a great plant for bees and other insects. It is hard to kill, and it drought tolerant after it is established. I did manage to kill my white one, but it was only after I pulled it out by it's roots and moved it. I think that I didn't leave it enough root...but so it goes.
Artichokes-- Great to eat...but even better, the purple flower that appears if you let one of the "chokes" go is a bee magnet. The color is so beatiful, it almost glows. I like the textural aspect of this plant also, but the leaves are prickly and you have to handle them with care.
These are only a few of the plants in my yard, but they are a collection that the pollinators seem to like, almost year round, in the temperate climate of the pacific northwest.
While I could dwell on the disgusting things that we do to the earth and it's creatures, I am choosing to do a small bit of something positive and I hope that is some encouragement to all of you to do a bit of the same.