Don’t rake the leaves and let the dandelions go to seed to give the pollinators what they need
One of the main things we’ve learned owning a home with a large yard, a couple of gardens and adjacent to a ravine that is full of trees is that pollinators come in all shapes and sizes.
We’ve also learned they like to winter under the fallen leaves and enjoy visiting the dandelions each year. And with spring here in full effect, we’re spreading the word to leave those lawns alone – for now.
A pollinator is anything that helps carry pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part of the same or another flower (stigma). The movement of pollen must occur for the the plant to become fertilized and produce fruits, seeds, and young plants.– National Park Service (U.S.)
Sure, the native bees are the most talked about and Save the Bees campaigns have gained huge followings, but there are many other pollinators such as wasps, butterflies, hummingbirds and others.
According to the Canadian Wildlife Federation there are over 1,000 species of pollinating animals in Canada which are “responsible for billions of dollars’ worth of Canadian farm produce, flowers and ecosystems reliant on pollination.”
It’s why we don’t rake the lawn too early and definitely don’t do a first cut until the dandelions have gone to seed. When in bloom, dandelions and white clover provide plenty of food for the awesome little pollinators.
But, that’s not all one can do to help provide food and safe spaces for pollinators. Green thumbs (and even not-so-green thumbs) can fill their gardens with plant species that attract various types of pollinators.
The incomparable hummingbird is attracted to plants like Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop), Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern Wild Columbine), Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot), Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower), and other similar species.
The species monarch butterflies prefer include Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Flower), Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster), Liatris spictata (Dense Blazing Star), and Gaillardia sp. (Blanket Flower).
Blooms for bees include Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop), Gaillardia x grandiflora (Blanket Flower), Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot), and Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster).
A great resource for learning more about what to plant (and even purchasing the seeds) is at CWF Medallion.
Whether you decide to plant species to attract pollinators or not, there are probably several food sources occurring naturally on your property already.
The best thing you can do this spring to protect our pollinators is to do nothing at all (at least to your outdoor spaces).
[…] Protect the Pollinators. We did a recent post that tells more, just visit: Leave Lawns Alone – For Now. […]