Attracting Beneficial Insects
I have written before about attracting beneficial insects and humming birds to the garden as well as tips on backyard bee keeping. I thought I would talk about some additional thoughts and perspective I found on another blog Garden Stems, who wrote about Inviting Pollinators To Our Gardens.
The author of the blog, Jen, had recently attended a presentation by David Salman, a horticulturalist from High Country Gardens (one of my favorite catalogs for xeric plants). And she had gotten a chance to spend some time with him as well.
Mr. Salman’s presentation had focused on providing a healthy environment for pollinators to come to your garden and stay there. (This included the bees, butterflies and also birds. Funny, I had easily associated birds with spreading seeds, but not pollinating – I guess humming birds really do pollinate flitting from flower to flower. Of course, these pollinators are responsible for spreading pollen and helping our plants set fruit and reproduce. So inviting pollinators into our gardens and providing them with a healthy environment, lets each of us do our part one garden at a time.
What was interesting is that the article discussed how to encourage each of these pollinators into the garden by providing basic things like food, water, shelter and places to nest. These are things I had discussed in inviting humming birds and beekeeping in discrete posts, but this article took in the whole range of pollinators, and discussed these things as being important for all the pollinators, as it really is for all life, which I had not focused on before.
What I had not covered in any degree, is the fact that the article discussed Mr. Salman’s perspective that having an organic garden that is chemical free is also important so that pollinators are not exposed to substances that will harm them. Of course, I know this, and had discussed it tangentially, but not focused on it.
I think that we all know that honeybees are very sensitive to pesticides. Garden Stem’s post had discussed several environmentally friendly pesticides that would not be as harmful as chemical ones, such as neem oil and pyrethrin. This is not to say that these pesticides are actually safe for bees, but they are less harmful to other life and should be applied before the bees are active.
And in providing nesting sites, they mentioned that DavidSalman had also recommended leaving areas unmulched to encourage burrowing of solitary bees, not cutting back herbaceous plants or grasses to provide places for beneficial insects to overwinter. And, of course, we all know about providing Mason bees and similar insects with nesting tubes.
Another area mentioned in his presentation as noted in the post is that biodiversity is important in attracting many different kinds of pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden. Plant many different kinds of plants, preferably native, in drifts, both for visual impact, but also to provide sufficient plants to attract the pollinators and keep them there.
I am truly envious that Jen at Garden Stems had been able to hear this presentation, for I do enjoy High Country Gardens (based in New Mexico, I think), although I find them rather expensive, and have lusted over some of the many xeric plants available through their catalog and ordered a few in the past. To have their horticulturalist speak would have been a real treat, and an inspiration to making my garden more pollinator friendly.