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Lately there’s been a lot of buzz about pollinators. Over the last few years, awareness has grown of the important role they play in our daily lives. At the same time, we are seeing a decline in population due to many causes including the misuse of pesticides and loss of habitat.
Bees are the most well-known pollinators with honey bees, bumblebees, and mason bees topping the list. But there are approximately 4,000 different species of native bees that also pollinate our plants. In addition, birds, butterflies, and bats also carry pollen from one plant to another aiding in the pollination of 75-90% of flower and food crops. That calculates to one out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat and beverages we drink is thanks to the work of pollinators. Think of that the next time you eat an apple, pepper, squash, or even chocolate. So knowing their importance as well as their struggles, what can we do to help the pollinators?
Enter the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. This nationwide call to action is designed to preserve and create garden spaces, big and small, that help revive the health of pollinators. Several non-profit organizations have formed the National Pollinator Garden Network and have a goal to register one million public and private gardens that support pollinators. You can be one of them! Here’s how:
- Plant a Pollinator Garden. Use plants that provide nectar and pollen. A few that attract pollinators are asters, bee balm, butterfly weed, coneflower, lavender, and yarrow. Native perennials to grow are Joe Pye Weed, Liatris, and Penstemon.
- Provide a water source.
- Sunny areas with wind breaks.
- Establish continuous blooms using perennials supplemented with annual flowers.
- Plant a large area with native perennials and shrubs.
- Minimize pesticide use.
- Register your garden at www.millionpollinatorgardens.org.
From a small planted container on a balcony to a five acre field planted with plants for pollinators, each of us can ‘BEE one in a million’. All you need to get started is a list of pollinating plants and you're on your way!
Horticulturist and Store Manager of Burlington Garden Center