Updated: May 25
If you are reading this blog, you are probably already a fan of pollinators and understand the need for protecting them. But what can you do to help? The single best thing you can do is create a Pollinator’s Place in your yard, your neighborhood, or your community. It can be a simple as planting a few milkweed plants, or as ambitious as creating a multi-acre meadow and sanctuary. Here are some examples and resources to motivate you to get started.
Just a year ago we decided to devote a 10’ x 10’ space next to our driveway to a Pollinator’s Place. The space was previously occupied entirely by a non-native 25’ tall Crepe Myrtle tree surrounded by a patch of Iris. We removed the tree (but couldn’t get all the roots which are still sending up shoots that have to be pulled periodically). We replaced the tree with a Chokeberry bush, then added Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Flower Milkweed, Cone Flower, and Wild Woodland Phlox Divaricate. In just a year it has already become an attractive and productive hangout for pollinators.
Here is a great guide to building a pollinator garden in a small yard by Kate Brandes, "Native Plants for the Small Yard".
If you have space, time, and ambition, there is no limit to the size and scope of a Pollinator’s Place. Our friend in Northern Virginia has converted her two-acre front yard into an Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary.
Check out her YouTube video featuring a drone flyover of the meadow.
How to Get Started
There are a lot of great resources to help you get started with your own Pollinator Place. The first thing you need to do is determine what native plant species are best for attracting pollinators in your region. Here are three great sources for selecting plants suitable for your location:
You can also check with your local Native Plant Society, Audubon Society, or local native plant nursery. For example, here are resources for Virginia:
Virginia Native Plant Society, Nurseries that sell natives
If you can't find the plants you want at a local native plant nursery, here is a place to get seed packets specially formulated for Pollinator gardens - Botanical Interests. Or you can get starter plants at the Garden for Wildlife.
Put your Garden on the Map
When you get your garden planted, put it on the map! Why? Because it shows the development of pathways for pollinator migration, encourages others to participate, and demonstrates the impact of your actions. The Home Grown National Park site has lots of great information and keeps track of active native plant gardens across the US.
Cover Photo by Kunal Kalra on Unsplash