Want to learn beekeeping? We will be offering an organic beekeeping class May 14, 2016. Register here.
Almost 7 acres of wildflowers
Pollinators are struggling. They don't have enough flowers to feed on. While there are often abundant nectar and pollen sources in the spring, life gets pretty tough for our winged friends in the summer months. Habitat fragmentation and changes in agriculture have eliminated most of the food sources for bees and butterflies. So while pollinators provide us with every third bite we eat, much of our agricultural heartland has become a food desert for bees and butterflies.
Farmers used to rotate crops, planting nitrogen fixing legumes like clover to enrich the soil every third year. These not only improved the soil, they fed pollinators all summer long. As a society we have become rather weed intolerant. We want perfect, manicured lawns. We fight dandelions with a passion. We rip out goldenrod. We battle white clover. But when we change the landscape, we impact the many insects that depend on these plants, the same organisms that are the very foundation of the food chain.
To help feed the bees, butterflies and create safe habitat for birds, we've established a 7 acre pollinator meadow. The majority is planted in warm season grasses, which take a couple of years to establish. Interspersed is a wide variety of wildflowers that bloom from spring through fall, providing food for pollinators. To cheer up the field and draw attention to the plight of pollinators, we added in oilseed sunflowers.
Stop and watch the meadow. Listen to the buzz of the bees. See the butterflies swoop down for a drink. Notice the birds perched on tall flowers and hidden among the stems. Smell the scent. The meadow will change with time. We hope you enjoy watching it mature.
Plants included in the meadow:
We are excited to see what animals make their home in the meadow. We've already spotted some uncommon bumble bees including Bombus fervidus, a beautiful almost entirely yellow bumble bee.
You can help pollinators in your own yard. Plant herbs like sage and dill. Choose old time cottage garden flowers like delphiniums and daisies instead of newer ruffled and doubled flowers. These fancy flowers are often due to genetic quirks that make the flower look pretty, but leave the nectar inaccessible. And grow as many fragrant flowers and herbs as you can like Russian sage, lavender, thyme and lobelia. They smell wonderful, add lovely color and attract a range of beneficial insects to your garden. If you have space, add a nectar or pollen bearing tree like redbud or basswood. Become a little more tolerant of "weeds", they're feeding the hard working insects that feed us.
Any questions, or if want more information for your garden club, please contact us.
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