Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, has an amazing flower. To me it looks like a bursting firework display. This native shrub is blooming in my home habitat now. It can grow in part shade and prefers moist soil. Perfect plant for a rain garden. Bees love this pollinator plant.
Yesterday Soni, Jody and I taught a pollinator session for Habitat Discovery. This was part of a week long day camp experience for youth at the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center in Lincoln. We wanted the kids to build an insect hotel on location that would benefit pollinators and be a lasting addition to the Outdoor Education Center. This was an ambitious task, since it took Soni and I about three months to gather supplies to build the insect hotel located at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. I asked Lancaster County Master Gardeners to collect twigs, pinecones and egg cartons for the project. The kids had a great time building the insect hotel and it was quite impressive after our two hour program. The youth learned what solitary bees were and where they like to nest. They also got to make solitary bee homes out of recycled materials to take home and place in their landscapes. When the insect hotel was finished there was a solitary bee ready to check in!
Every Tuesday Lancaster County Master Gardeners assist Dave from our office at the City Mission Garden. Dave started the garden a few years ago as education outreach for Mission residents who wanted to learn to garden. Residents come and go, but Dave and the master gardeners are there consistently through the spring, summer and fall. Vegetables are collected each week and used in the City Mission kitchen. Today they had broccoli, onions and herbs. Master Gardener Jane planted wildflowers and now there is a beautiful pollinator garden too. She hopes to have a good selection of plants that bloom during each season to apply for the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program.
We wrapped up National Pollinator Week by attending Bee Fun Day at NEREC August N. Christenson Research & Education Building near Ithaca Nebraska yesterday. This event was sponsored by the Nebraska Beekeepers Association and Nebraska Extension. Soni, Jody and I had a youth activity booth for kids to make paper flowers and pipe cleaner caterpillars. We talked about what native plants are important to our native pollinators and what caterpillars need to eat to eventually turn into butterflies. We also took some time with our fellow Extension staff to scout for pollinators around the NEREC grounds.
It is National Pollinator Week! I am happy to share that the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program has revised its application with an updated and bigger plant list! Hope you will consider applying to this program. Take a look at the application for the list of plants you might add to your landscape to benefit pollinators.
Annual flowers are an important addition to a pollinator habitat. They bloom all summer and into the fall. They fill the void if your habitat is new and the perennial flowers are not blooming yet. Sulphur cosmos, larkspur, blue salvia, gomphrena, sweet alyssum, zinnia and sunflower are just a few annual flowers to add to your landscape to help pollinators.
This week we have noticed alot of activity around the bee house in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Evidence of leafcutter bees present show discs of leaves that are snipped from nearby ash tree seedlings. Drilled holes are now filled in the bee house. Learn more about leafcutter bees from this publication by Dr. Jonathan L. Larson at Nebraska Extension at Douglas/Sarpy Counties.
Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.
Blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat is Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red.’ ‘Husker Red’ grows 2 to 3 feet tall. The flowers are white with a pink tinge. The foliage is a stunning burgundy. It does best in well-drained soils and full sun. This plant ‘Husker Red’ was introduced by the University of Nebraska. It was selected as the 1996 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association.