by Linda Z
posted May 6, 2023
Plant for Pollinators
May 13 is the Skagit Master Gardeners Annual Plant Fair at the Skagit County Fair Grounds – come say hi! As a Xerces Society representative, I’ll have an exhibit in the educational/info tables with info on how to set up pollinator habitat in your home garden. The Washington Native Plant Society will be in the same section, as will Virgene Link, who’ll give a presentation on “Love Those Bugs!” Come and connect with folks who are stressing the keystone importance of both our native invertebrates, and our native plants.
Here’s the website for the Plant Fair (notice that you can click on “Plant List” to find many of the plants that will be for sale):
Additionally, the Master Gardeners have created a Pollinator Garden at the Discovery Garden, with 50 flowering native and non-native shrubs & plants. You can find a list and more info here:
I plant for bloom from early spring through late winter in my home garden, to provide bees, moths, and butterflies with nectar and pollen. Lately I’ve noticed that a very small bee species is busy visiting the turnip flowers that I allowed to go to seed. The bright yellow flowers are very cheerful to see while my new veg plants are getting started and aren’t much to get visually delighted about yet!
Transition Fidalgo’s Seed Share at the Anacortes Library currently (May 1st) has phacelia, nigella, cosmos, and scarlet runner bean seeds to plant NOW for your garden’s bees, if our soil is FINALLY about 60 degrees, that is. I will plant scarlet runner beans, cosmos, sunflower, phacelia, and alyssum in the first week of May. If you plant seeds, make sure they are not treated with pesticides, and that the sunflowers are not the pollenless variety.
My fruit trees are all in bloom now (May 1). I hope those pollinator bees are warm enough to fly and do their job! 50-55 degrees is what they need, both to hatch out of their overwintering nests, and to be warm enough to fly. Last year, we had cold and windy conditions during fruit tree bloom, and many reported that their apple trees weren’t adequately pollinated. Native bees, by the way, can forage in slightly cooler temps and windier conditions than can honey bees.
As beautiful as Skagit’s tulip and daffodil fields are, their blooms have nothing to offer our pollinators in the way of pollen and nectar.
Let’s hear it for home gardens planted with Oregon grape, red-flowering currant, wind anemones, heath, vinca, grape hyacinth, pieris japonica, snow drops, crocus, primrose,sarcococca, hellebore, cyclamen, aubretia,and Indian plum: all feature nectar and pollen. These early bloomers of February, March, and April, provide food for the bumble bee queens stumbling out of hibernation, and for mason, leaf cutter, and other smaller native bees newly emerging from their nests.