February was very cold with lots of snow. We are definitely ready for warmer temperatures. Most of the February snow has melted. Under the snow was snowdrops, just waiting to see the sun. This early spring bulb is great for honey bees. They visit these flowers on warm days. Consider planting spring flowering bulbs like snowdrops, glory-of-the-snow, crocus and squill this fall.
An easy way to decorate outdoor trees that will benefit wildlife too, is to make a fruit garland.
oranges cut in 1/2 inch slices
apples cut in 1/2 inch slices
cotton string, 3 feet long
large sewing needle
Directions: Put the cotton string on the large sewing needle and make a knot at the end of the string. Put the cranberries, oranges and apples on the string to make the garland. Alternate the different fruits to make your own design. Attach the garland to tree branches. Be careful not to injure the branches by tying the string too tight. Remove the string from the tree when the fruit is gone, to prevent girdling the branches later.
Last week I placed sock feeders for the American Goldfinch we have in and around the Cherry Creek Pollinator habitat. I also put up the sunflower seed bird feeder for our seed eating birds. We often see Dark-eyed Junco and Northern Cardinals in or near the habitat. It is important to keep your feeders filled through the winter because birds and wildlife will rely on them through the winter season.
If you are done with your fall decorations like pumpkins and corn, they will make great food for wildlife in your habitat. Do not cut back native flower seed heads like purple coneflower. They are excellent winter food for birds.
It is October in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Last night the habitat hosted the 4-H Horticulture club. The youth and their parents toured the habitat and learned about the solitary bee house and insect hotel. The youth started their nature journaling project by spending time observing everything around them and recording what they saw. They finished up the evening making solitary bee houses to place in their home landscapes next year.
The Master Gardeners visited the habitat today to help prune back the wild that grew over the summer. They pruned some of the plant material so the bench, picnic table and pathways are more accessible.
The habitat looks wonderful and is showing fall color. The tall cottonwood always leads the way with its golden leaves.
I often get asked “What perennials should I plant for butterflies?” The plant selection can be overwhelming especially if you have a small space. Here are a few suggestions. I have included pictures I have taken over the past 5 years of the plants and the butterflies.
Monarch on aster, Comma on common milkweed, Painted Lady on tall sedum, Monarch on Liatris, Tiger swallowtail on Monarda, Buckeye on Thyme, Painted lady on purple coneflower, Border patch on Rudbeckia, Crescent on butterfly milkweed, Monarch on swamp milkweed, Grey hairstreak on mint, Painted lady on goldenrod, Border patch on sawtooth sunflower and Black swallowtail on tall thistle.
Amazing flowers bloom during the summer months. We have a great collection of native flowers in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. The weather has been good and we have had plenty of rain. Summer blooming native plants are so important to pollinators. It is important to have a variety and have them in mass plantings. Native plants that have bloomed in the habitat this summer include: purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, two varieties of beebalm, black-eyed Susan, blanket flower, fleabane, vervain, chicory, swamp milkweed and lead plant. Enjoy the summer flowers!
Happy National Pollinator Week! I hope you are able to start a pollinator habitat this year or add plants to the habitat you already have in your landscape. Gardening has become very popular this year, so more people are outside and hopefully noticing pollinators. There are many ways to celebrate pollinator week:
1. Plant Native Plants. Native plants provides native pollinators with food in the form of pollen and nectar. Select plants that have a long bloom time. Also grow a wide selection of plants so you have plants blooming April through October.
2. Let your yard get a little messy. Leave unhazardous snags for nesting places and stack tree limbs to create a brush pile, which is a great source of cover for pollinators. Build an insect hotel or bee house in your landscape.
3. Create or protect water sources. Bees need water to drink. Create a water feature with rocks for insects to land. Be sure to keep birdbaths clean and change the water three times per week when mosquitoes are breeding.
4. Limit or eliminate pesticide use. By using fewer or no chemicals in the landscape you will help keep pollinator populations healthy.
5. Identify non-native invasive plants. Work to remove them from your yard. Do not bring any new invasive plants into your habitat. Invasive plants do not provide as much quality food or habitat as native plants do and can threaten healthy ecosystems.