Sun-loving Perennials for a Pollinator Garden

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offers a fantastic online publication with resources for schools, and home gardeners, to help create a pollinator garden. A pollinator garden uses specific plants to draw pollinators like bees, wasps, butterflies, and hummingbirds to a specific area.

Favorites for full sun beauty, and pollinator draw in my garden

Asclepius tuberosa “Butterfly Weed”

This plant is spectacular. I noticed a few growing wild down by the roadside at the edge of my heavily wooded property. I got the shovel and dug one up! I left the other three to continue growing there. I found out they don’t transplant well, but this one survived and has now been in my pollinator garden for two years. The butterflies absolutely love it, and they fight each other over the flowers.

Pollinator planting is especially useful for me because I also grow vegetables in my raised beds. The nearby pollinator garden helps draw more pollinators to my veggie blooms too-therefore increasing my yields! I also try to pick plants that have beautiful blooms, or are Georgia native plants, or both.

Echinacea purpurea

This simple Southeastern native Purple Coneflower is one of my all time faves. It keeps the bees very happy, and a smile on my face all summer.

Bee & Echinacea

Agastache “Anise Hyssop”

One of my favorite new herbs, and therefore found all over my garden is the deer proof wonder Anise Hyssop. Delightful, long blooming, anise scented leaves, and pollinators all year make this a superstar favorite.

Lobelia cardinalis “Cardinal flower”

Another beautiful native plant. These bright red beauties are very charming and are hummingbird magnets. They begin to bloom in August, and the flowers march up the stem. I love watching the hummingbirds zooming in to feed from them. To my eye, the flowers also look like tiny hummingbirds.

Lantana ‘Sonset’

‘Sonset’ Lantana oozes summer heat & the colors can’t be beat. I bought three of these gorgeous, super drought tolerant, pollinator magnets while working at Cofer’s. Delivered from a nursery in Louisiana, the grower said it was the earliest, most cold hardy, and compact lantana ever. They are one of my favorite plants now, and the butterflies play in, and fight over the stunning color changing flower heads.

They are a smaller lantana-unlike that ‘Miss Huff’ showoff. These are 3-4 feet max, and stay smaller if keep minimally pruned.

Eryngium yuccofolium

This plant absolutely hums and buzzes with every manner of wasp, bee, and flying insect. I have rarely seen so many on one plant. This plant has uses in herbal folk medicine (it is also known as Rattlesnake Master), and doesn’t seem very attractive at first glance. It has long, thin yucca like leaves with spiky balls topping each stem. Once you give it a second glance though, it is truly a fascinating, beautiful plant. It is super unique, and provides loads of pollinators to your garden.

Woodland Sunflower Helianthus divaricatus

Woodland Sunflower, 'Helianthus Divaricatus', Zone 7b, Georgia, Native plant,

These woodland sunflowers fill the area under my grand white oak tree just off the back deck. They are super pretty and dark green, and I love watching them grow. I saw many of these in the mountains at Black Rock Mountain State Park when I visited. They shine in the shade under the tree canopy, and pleasantly brighten up the roadsides and trailsides.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has an incredible program called Connect to Protect that provides educational programming using native plants to support pollinators like birds and insects, and promoting native ecosystems.

Get out there and start your pollinator garden today!

Happy Gardening!

Journal3-Geese Flying North

I had a great moment with these geese, who were flying north yesterday, in beautiful Cherokee County at my mother-in-law’s house. I couldn’t believe that I managed to hear and see them flying directly overhead, and I just so happened to be getting my husband’s phone from the car, so I took these photos with his camera.

Geese1The first photo I took just after I heard them coming and they appeared over the trees. The sounds they made talking back and forth to each other were unmistakable. I scrambled to get the camera ready in time to capture them. Honks of varied tone, depth, and complexity came from different directions and locations in the arrangement. They really seemed to be communicating with each other. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to see them after just reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. His descriptions of the geese as they return to Wisconsin’s lakes in March are great. He writes, “One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.”

geese2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I realized as the chatter of the geese, which Leopold describes as “a general shouting by the onlookers of a vehement controversy,” ¬†swiftly moved through the sky that there were two groups of geese. They were on their way north to the thawing March lakes, maybe even Leopold’s Wisconsin lakes. I thought they were trying to merge and become a larger group or had possibly fallen apart and were trying to repair their perfect flight pattern. Maybe that was what all the communication was about. They moved so swiftly and were out of sight in a minute. I could still hear their calls to each other. Then after they were gone, I thought writing about that short moment and how it made me feel connected to the “geese that proclaim the seasons” that Leonard describes would be the perfect journal post for my Environmental Literature class. The timing for the reading assignment of A Sand County Almanac and the geese flying through Georgia was interesting.

geese3

 

Nature Observation II

RobinThere was a lot of bird activity in the backyard when the snow was starting to fall last week. This robin was one of many who seemed to be foraging for frozen food under the leaves. His camo is perfect, but some birds are just plain outrageous, like this cardinal, who was striking and beautiful against the brown woods and white snow.

cardinalI was happy to finally capture these two. They move around so fast. The woods here are full of all kinds of birds. I consider myself a very amateur birder. I have a list and am always on the lookout for birds I haven’t seen before. They are beautiful to look at, and I love listening to their songs. The woods are alive with bird conversations, if you have time to listen. Even though it was so cold, I stayed out listening and watching awhile.

My sweet husband gave me these beautiful roses for my birthday. I am thankfully enjoying their beauty and fragrance. It is amazing to me that I can enjoy these in the heart of winter. Lovely.

roses