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Attracting pollinators to your garden


This is part of a series of columns prepared by the staff at the award winning West Seattle Nursery.  The Nursery is open for shopping, following COVID guidelines and offering an array of trees, shrubs, bedding plants, garden supplies, decor and gift items. They are located at 5275 California Ave SW and you can find them online at https://www.westseattlenursery.com

Pollinators are those critters – bees, flies, bats, butterflies, birds, and small animals – that carry pollen from flower to flower, enabling plants to reproduce. According to the USDA, 75% of flowering plants and 35% of the crops that feed the world are dependent on pollinators to thrive.

Unfortunately, due to pollution, the overuse of chemicals, climate change, and loss of habitat, many pollinator species are declining, especially bees.

We can help reverse this trend by making our gardens into friendly habitats for pollinators. Some species need space for nesting. Others need cover and food for larvae. All of them need an abundance of flowering plants to provide the nectar they need for food.

Start by leaving a bit of the garden untidy. Fall leaves are good winter homes for certain caterpillars, which in spring become butterflies and moths. Bumblebee queens sometimes take up residence there, too. In early spring, dandelion flowers are the first food of the season available for bees, so don’t be in a hurry to pull them out. Birds will root through your leaf piles to find twigs and other suitable materials for their nests.

When choosing what to plant, remember that pollinators love brightly colored flowers. Particular favorites include coneflowers, asters, sunflowers, bee balm, butterfly weed, columbine, mint, lilacs, snapdragons, and cosmos. Hummingbirds like tubular flowers, like fuchsias and trumpet vine.

Finally, be sure to provide water during the dry season (if we ever have one this year). This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Put a shallow saucer in a planting bed and top it up whenever you water the garden.

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