Annual Flowers

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.

MJ Frogge

Leafcutter Bees

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.

MJ Frogge

http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/Getting%20to%20Know%20Leafcutter%20Bees.pdf

Husker Red

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.

MJ Frogge

PenstemondigHRed

Blooming Catalpa

The catalpa tree is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.  Northern Catalpa-Catalpa speciosa has big flowers, big stems, big pods and even bigger leaves. It is quite stunning when it is blooming. It is native to the United States and is a nice tree to have in the landscape if you have the room. There is a catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar that feeds on the leaves and bumble bees visit the flowers.

MJ Frogge

Iris Blooming in Habitat

This iris is special. Iris spuria ‘Fontanelle’ was discovered on an old farmstead near Fontanelle, Nebraska.

This town is named after Logan Fontenelle, an interpreter and Omaha chief who was born at Bellevue, NE in May, 1825.  His mother was a daughter of Big Elk, noted chief of the Omaha.

Description: Found years ago at an old farmstead, near Fontanelle. An unsurpassed, neat garden plant with elegant, large flowers of violet-blue, whose lavender-rose falls each bear a bright yellow spot. Flowers first two weeks of June. Wonderful, sword-like foliage.

This beautiful iris is blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

MJ Frogge

irisloganFont

Plant Herbs

We have garden thyme blooming in Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.  Soon I will be planting basil, dill, borage and parsley.  Herbs are important plants to have in a pollinator habitat.  The flowers are visited by bees and butterflies.  Many butterfly caterpillars feed on the leaves of dill, borage, parsley and other herbs.  If you plant several plants, you may get a few herbs for yourself!

MJ Frogge

thyme

Monarch Eggs

So I was curious. With all the reports of monarchs already seen in Nebraska, I went out to the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat this morning to look for eggs. It did not take long for me to find one on a common milkweed. Wow, its May 5th!  I checked other plants and found one more. Keep in mind that these eggs were probably laid by a monarch butterfly that got blown 1500 miles from Mexico. After all those miles it still was able to find a milkweed and lay its eggs. It should have only had to travel as far as Texas and lay its eggs there. Then the butterflies from those eggs would have traveled north to Nebraska later this month. Nature is beyond amazing.

MJ Frogge

milkweed monarch egg

Monarch butterfly egg on common milkweed, May 5!

Teaching Youth about Pollinators

Last Thursday Soni and I spent the day teaching 4th and 5th graders about pollinators at the Outdoor Discovery Program held every year at Platte River State Park hosted by Nebraska Game and Parks. The day started out chilly, but by afternoon we were able to see many pollinators and the kids were able to stretch out in the grassy area and work in their field journals. We found out the attending youth knew what pollination means, what pollinators are and how they are important.  What we were able to add to their knowledge was very interesting to them.  We discussed native pollinators and showed them nesting bee blocks with the leaf cutter bees still in them ready to emerge. The importance of early blooming plants, like dandelions, which they considered weeds, was a surprise to them. The discussion turned to what food crops needed pollinators to produce, like tomatoes, apples and almonds. By the end of each session, the kids had a better understanding of our native pollinators and how their habitat is important to protect.  It was a very fun day for all of us and it is great to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks in youth outdoor education.

MJ Frogge