Happy Earth Week 2016. How are you celebrating?
I am celebrating with the butterflies and bees! As the force behind the Pollinator Spaces Project I decided I needed to step up the pollinator habitat in my own garden in time for Earth Week 2016. In one part of the garden I added three baby sage (Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’) plants. I have always loved the bi-colored flowers and they really attract butterflies.
In that area I also planted seeds. I used Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) towards the back. Those get tall and will last until frost. Towards the front of that bed I planted cosmos seeds. When this area fills out I will have a variety of color and will attract native bees, honey bees and butterflies. This area is also next to my porch which will bring these interesting insects close enough to watch!
I have always wanted some mountain mint (Pycananthemum virginianum). However, I have had difficulty finding the plant in nurseries. Luckily I work with some very smart people and I took the advice of a friend, and UGA horticulturist, Dr. Bodie Pennisi and planted seeds. Mountain mint seeds are so tiny. I decided to start them indoors on my seed starting benches. If I am successful I will have mountain mint for my garden and some for friends as well.
On one side of my house I also moved some been balm (Monarda). I realized how quickly this plant spreads and wanted to give it all the room it needed. I love the tall, lanky stalks with the uniquely shaped flower. Hummingbirds and butterflies flock to this plant.
I encourage everyone to add a pollinator space to your garden this year. Your space doesn’t need to be big or complicated, just a few plants at the end of a row or some tucked in an established garden. There are resources available to help you – our website and your local UGA Extension Agent are always ready to assist.
Pollinators really do need our help and the level of effort to do this is small. The perks include having additional beautiful plants in your garden, improving your food crops (!), being able to observe wonderful pollinators up close, and knowing you are aiding in pollinator conservation!
Won’t you join me during Earth Week 2016 in increasing Georgia’s pollinator habitat? Send us photos of your project! #EarthWeek2016 #gapollinators
-Becky Griffin, UGA Extension’s Community and School Garden Coordinator, beekeeper, and lover of pollinators
Happy Pollinator Gardening!