Snow came to the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat overnight. It is a reminder that seasons change and winter is on its way. The trees are getting their fall color and the native grasses are beautiful with their tall seed head plumes. Milkweed pods are popping open and releasing their seeds and silky fluff. Nebraska is gorgeous in the fall.
Asters are blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Asters are hardy perennials that bloom late summer until the first hard frost. Many asters are native to Nebraska and are a late-season source of pollen for bees, migrating monarchs and other pollinators.
Asters native to Nebraska include:
Smooth aster – 2-4 feet tall with purple flowers
Prairie aster – 3-4 feet tall with lavender flowers
Heath aster – 1-3 feet tall with white flowers
New England aster – 3-5 feet tall with pink, red-violet, purple or blue flowers
Asters are easy to grow and look great in a mass planting. They can be planted with other native plants like purple coneflower, coreopsis, black-eyed Susan and native grasses.
The main plant disease is powdery mildew, it causes a whitish growth that appears on leaves. To reduce the chance of this disease, make sure asters are in full sun and plants are not crowded.
Yesterday, March 20, was the Spring Equinox. Spring is here and we are so grateful. Nebraska has endured record snow fall and flooding, so we are happy to have sunny spring weather.
Now is a good time to think about what plants you could add to your pollinator habitat. The Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program has an excellent list of spring, summer and fall blooming plants that are native to Nebraska. Look over the impressive plant list and also consider certifying your pollinator habitat. Learn more at this link: https://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification
Wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa is blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. This perennial plant is native to Nebraska and found through out North America. It reaches heights of 2 to 5 feet tall. The flowers are light purple and is an important pollinator plant to bumblebees, skippers, swallowtails, monarchs, solider beetles, wasp, leaf cutter bees and sweat bees.
Happy National Pollinator Week! 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.
If you live in or near Lincoln, attend this event:
“Pollinators on the Plaza”
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 4-6 pm
Union Plaza, 21st & P Streets, Lincoln Nebraska
Public educational fair for all ages including:
Pollinator planting/garden tours
Information/educational booths with handouts and/or hands on activities
Food vendors using pollinator based products (honey, etc)
Yesterday was Earth Day. This was the first nice weekend day that was not cold or snowy. My family and I celebrated by hiking at Pioneers Park through the Fleming Woods. It was a beautiful day, we saw many migrating birds and early blooming wildflowers. Blooming now is cut-leaf toothwort, white fawn lily and false rue anemone.
Here are a few suggestions to celebrate Earth Day this week:
Plant a tree. Trees for Lancaster County Nebraska:
During the month of September we have enjoyed the migration of painted lady butterflies. Entomologists suggest the high population is because of a great summer season of breeding that boosted the population. Omaha, Lincoln and the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat have experienced large populations this month. Neighboring states, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas have seen increased populations as well. Enjoy them while they are here.
This week I visited the Calvert Rec Center Pollinator Garden. Two Nebraska Extension Lancaster County Master Gardeners, Nance and Mary, planted and maintain this garden as a volunteer project. They have planted many native plants that are labeled for the public to view. They have installed a bee water station and have spent hours weeding this impressive garden site. Thank you for hard work and dedication to pollinators!
Wednesday was 4-H exhibit entry day at the Nebraska State Fair. While I was helping 4-H staff enter the exhibits for Lancaster county, I took a couple minutes to look at exhibits from other counties. I was really pleased at what I saw at the fair. Several 4-H youth had entered bee houses and small insect hotels. They were very clever with their designs and I managed to get pictures of a few of them. It is great to see Nebraska youth interested in pollinators and stepping up to help them.
Here is a NebGuide to help you get started building bee houses:
This is the 5th summer for the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat! It is amazing to see how much we have accomplished in 5 years. We started with a neglected lawn area behind our office and turned it into a thriving habitat for pollinators and wildlife. The habitat is a great place to teach youth, adults, Master Gardeners and even our own staff about the importance of pollinators. Every time I visit the habitat I see or learn something new. It has been a rewarding experience and I hope it has been an inspiration for you as well.
Two educational signs
One solitary bee house
One insect hotel
Three water stations
Live habitat web cam
Picnic table and bench
Bird feeding stations
Over 40 native plants with name labels
Over 190 stems of common milkweed for monarchs and other beneficial insects
Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program site
Hours of educational outreach for youth and adults