This trend from recent years is actually nothing new – just another way to add more color, style and variety to your garden by choosing plants that are actually useful to insects, birds and butterflies! The goal is to keep these beings thriving and doing their jobs of enriching our environment by offering them “food” – meaning long-blooming flowers with value.
I’m watching bees visit the Tiarella cordifolia groundcover that just opened in my garden. Ditto for the native Geranium maculatum and Jacob’s Ladder, Polemonium caeruleum, that I started from seed many years ago. I have planted them in large blocks with the idea of filling space, as well as to send up signals to passing pollinators, saying “we’re ready and we’ve got pollen for you.” Happily, the Geranium and Jacob’s Ladder are now seeding around the yard, mainly because sometimes I fall behind with my deadheading in the busy season. Even the non-native shrub, Weigela florida ‘Canary’ has been getting visited by bees and a hummingbird.
Doug Tallamy, entemologist and noted author, suggests that the next frontier for planting is right in our own yards. He calls this “Homegrown National Park.” We all have unused space, be it a hellstrip out front or the mulch encircling a tree. Both sunny and shady spots qualify! There is no need to have a large meadow if you don’t have that much space or time to plant. We can find pollinator plants for you. Native plants, of course, will have the most value to our native pollinators. Doug believes that up to 30% of your garden can be non-native, however.
For more information, you may enjoy perusing Doug Tallamy’s recent book Nature’s Best Hope that expands on this topic, including studies on pollinators and plants conducted by his graduate students at the University of Delaware.