Tag Archives: butterflies

Support National Pollinator Week: Plant Trees for Pollinators

sweet bay magnolia blooms in summer

It is amazing that something as small as a bee is vitally important to our food supply. As pollinators, bees transfer pollen thus ensuring that plants and crops develop fruit and seeds for us to consume. But bees are not the only keystone species that we depend on, we also need other pollinators such as butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, and birds, including hummingbirds. About 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators (the others are wind pollinated). According to Cornell University, pollinators are responsible for every third bite of food we eat.

Unfortunately, pollinator populations have declined due to pesticides, habitat loss, and disease. Gardeners who are aware of this problem have deliberately planted flowering perennials and annuals to provide pollen (protein) and nectar (carbs). Because of their dramatic 90 percent decline in population over the past 20 years, monarch butterflies have received quite a lot of support. Many gardeners are planting milkweed – the one and only plant for monarchs — or trying to produce more butterflies with home kits. Bees too have received national attention. Nurseries promote bee friendly flowers and gardeners have planted bee magnets such as Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium), goldenrod (Solidago), and gayfeather (Liatris).

persimmon fruit, thanks to pollinators

Plant Trees to Support Pollinators

These efforts have helped the pollinators and certainly gardeners have come to appreciate the importance of pollinators. However, an overlooked source of food and protection for pollinators are trees. Trees provide more flowers, plenty of foliage for larva (caterpillars), and a large infrastructure to hold hives and nests. Because of the number of flowers a canopy provides, trees can provide more pollen and nectar compared to annuals and perennials. Plus, as homeowners move from house to house, the herbaceous landscape may change but usually the trees and all of their tiny inhabitants remain.

Plant Small Native Trees for Homes

“Trees are a permanent fixture,” said Steve Nagy, an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Board-Certified Master Arborist and Assistant District Manager of The Care of Trees. The Care of Trees is a division of the Davey Tree Expert Company, founded in 1880. Based in Ohio, the Davey Tree Expert Company has offices across North America–Steve is based in a northern Virginia office.

For attracting pollinators in the Washington DC metro area, Steve recommends native trees that thrive in our particular climate (cold winters and hot, humid summers). “We recommend native trees because the chances of them growing well is higher that non-natives,” he explained. For typical suburban lots where space is a premium, Steve recommends swamp white oak (Quercis bicolor), willow oak (Quercis phellos), post oak (Quercis stellata), cucumber magnolia (Magnolia acuminata), sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), little leaf linden (Tilia cordata), persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), and serviceberry (Amelanchier).

“Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) is a great tree, too,” said Steve, “It is a typically overlooked native with good fall color.”

Plant Trees that Flower at Various Times

heavy with summer-blooming flowers, the crape myrtle branches bend down

While a tree can provide many flowers, usually it only flowers for a few weeks. Because different pollinators are active at various times of the year, Steve recommends planting trees with various bloom times. Instead of planting the well-known spring bloomers such as flowering cherry trees, flowering plums, star magnolias, saucer magnolias, and redbuds, homeowners can plant summer blooming trees such as little leaf linden (see video below for bees pollinating a linden tree), persimmon, cucumber magnolia, southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), and crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia).

Plant Trees that Support Specific Pollinators

Another reason to plant trees is that certain pollinators require specific tree species or genera. Similar to the monarch butterfly’s relationship with milkweed, the spicebush swallowtail caterpillar only feeds on spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and sassafras (Sassafras albidum). The zebra swallowtail caterpillar only feeds on young paw paw leaves (Asimina spp.) and the pink-striped oak worm moth gets its name from its preference for oaks (Quercus spp.).

paw paw trees are vital to the zebra swallowtail

Plant Trees in the Fall

This week is National Pollinator Week. Now is the best time to learn more about pollinators and to identify new trees to plant to support them. However, summer is not the best time to actually plant trees. Because trees take longer to become established than perennials and annuals (larger plant hence more root structure and more foliage), Steve said the best time to plant trees is in the fall. “If you can get planting done by Mother’s Day,” said Steve, “the tree has a chance to make it through the hot summer but fall is the best time.” Steve also recommends to plant smaller rather than bigger but one can plant bigger plants in the fall. Fall, as opposed to spring or summer, offers warm soil but cooler temperatures, thus the amount of transpiration or water loss is less. The tree can devote energy into root establishment, not making up for water loss due to heat.

For information on how to plant a tree correctly, the Davey website has an extensive collection of articles and videos on tree planting and maintenance. If you need more personalized assistance, Steve mentioned that homeowners can request a free consultation by calling or completing a form on the website. A certified arborist can come to one’s home to evaluate the trees and landscape and devise a strategy to meet the goals for that specific property.

This week, celebrate National Pollinator Week by learning more about pollinators, identifying the best plants and trees for pollinators in your area, and incorporating best practices to protect, harbor, and feed pollinators.

 

Bee the Change Giveaway for Those Who Teach Children About Pollinators in the Garden

This year, National Pollinator Week was June 19-25 but I was so busy with the Garden Bloggers Fling I was not able to post anything about it on my website. I was aware of the event and as bus captain during the Fling, I suggested that the Wings of Fancy butterfly exhibit at Brookside Gardens would be the perfect opportunity to post photos of these types of pollinators during National Pollinator Week.

Last year, I was able to participate by posting an article each day about a culinary herb that attracts pollinators. Many herbs, if left to flower, will attract pollinators and beneficial insects. I featured basil, dill, cilantro, sage, chives, thyme, and marjoram.

Fortunately, two Garden Bloggers Fling sponsors, American Meadows and High Country Gardens, gave all of us a postcard about the Bee the Change Giveaway so I did not miss the boat entirely. These two companies, along with Kids Gardening, a non-profit website that promotes teaching children the importance of gardening, are collaborating on the Bee the Change Giveaway to thank teachers, educators, and parents who want to help children learn about pollinators. They will be giving away pollinator plants and seeds, with a grand prize of a school-sized pollinator garden, designed by plant experts David Salman (owner of High Country Gardens) or Mike Lizotte (owner of American Meadows). There will be additional prizes of 30 pollinator plant collections for home-sized gardens. Eligible participants are people who have or want to teach kids (K-12) about pollinators through gardening.  Teachers, parents, communities, municipalities, and other organizations are eligible to enter the Bee the Change Giveaway. This Giveaway just started during the National Pollinator Week and the last day to enter is August 14. Winners will be announced in September.

Great idea American Meadows, High Country Gardens, and Kids Gardening and thank you for supporting the Garden Bloggers Fling this year!

Pollinator Week, June 16-22

A few days ago I was weeding in the hydrangea patch when I noticed so many bees speeding around the oak leaf hydrangeas that I deliberately steered clear of my bushes. In all my years of gardening, I have not been stung but I have never seen so many bees so busy before! I thought it prudent to avoid them but secretly I was celebrating the fact that I had so many pollinators in my garden, so necessary for my vegetable and berry plants to bear fruit.

oak leaf hydrangea  (bee in middle)

oak leaf hydrangea
(bee in middle)

Next week is Pollinator Week, initiated and managed by the Pollinator Partnership. Pollinator Week, June 16-22, 2014, has become an international awareness campaign to educate people about the importance of pollinators such as bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and beetles. The Pollinator Partnership web site has a wealth of information, including a database of activities for next week by state and country. I looked at our Washington, DC, metropolitan area and as of Wednesday, June 11, below is what was on the web site. I am sure more could be added in the future, check the web site next week and always confirm dates/times/events with these organizations.I also downloaded an “ecoregional” guide for selecting plants for pollinators based on my Northern Virginia zip code. Apparently, I live in the Southeastern Mixed Forest Province and according to this 24-page, colored guide, pollinators in my area are bees, butterflies, moths, birds, bats, beetles (known to pollinate magnolias, sweetshrub, and paw paws!), and flies (goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace!). This was news to me; I have always had plenty of butterflies, bees, and birds in my garden but never thought of the others as that important. The guide also describes what I can do to attract these pollinators and the type of plants they prefer. What is on the list? Oak leaf hydrangea!Pollinator events in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area from the Pollinator.org web site (copied and pasted) as of Wednesday June 11, 2014.

Virginia

Pollinator Garden Visit, 9:30-11:30 June 21, 1803 Anderson Road, Falls Church 22043. Come to an event celebrating National Pollinator Week (June 16-22). Visit a new Pollinator Garden in Pimmit Hills, at 1803 Anderson Road (see link below). Your host Clement Kent, author of “How to Make a Pollinator Garden”, will show you how make a garden which is beautiful and friendly to pollinators such as butterflies, birds, and bees. And, Cindy Wackerbarth of the Monarch Teacher Network will tell you about how teachers and students are helping monarch butterflies survive. Find out what YOU can do to help! This is a free, low-key event – drop in for a few minutes or a long chat.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/1803+Anderson+Rd/@38.9077706,-77.1991321,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x89b64acc689b7159:0x8292da8d4910faac

Flights of Fancy: Art Inspired by the Bee and Butterfly Garden
Reception & Program Date: June 18, 2014 from 6.30 pm to 9 pm, 5722 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22207. The exhibit runs from June 3 through July 5. The Lee Arts Center presents, Flights of Fancy: Art Inspired by the Bee and Butterfly Garden. This exhibit will present works that were inspired either by texture, color, and/or literal impressions from the Lee Center’s Butterfly Garden. Thanks to the generosity of a neighbor and friend to the Lee Center, there will be an award presented to the artist who creates the most inspiring butterfly/bee garden work. The award will be selected by a panel of impartial judges. The Flights of Fancy reception on June 18th will feature the butterfly garden and a presentation on pollinators. The exhibit coincides with National Pollinator Week which runs from June 16 through the 22nd. Native pollinators play an essential role in plant reproduction and food production, in our gardens, on our farms and in wild settings. We hope you can join us on June 18th to learn more about our local pollinators.

Maryland
Pollinator Party at the Silver Spring Farmer’s Market, June 21, 9am -1pm, Ellsworth Dr. between Fenton St. and Georgia Ave. MD 20910. Meet the Pollinators of Silver Spring, Maryland at the Silver Spring Farmers Market. Join Silver Spring Green, Brookside Nature Center, and local author Alison Gillespie to celebrate, honor and learn about our local bees. Come to our booth at the Farmers Market and learn about how these incredible insects provide us with one out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat. Find out how to help and protect them. We’ll have displays and crafts about honey bees and native bees for the whole family to enjoy. Alison Gillespie will also have copies of her new book, Hives in the City: Keeping Honey Bees Alive in an Urban World.

Washington, DC
Pollinator Week at the National Museum of Natural History, 1000 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004, June 16 – June 20

Monday, June 16, 2-3pm, Q?rius Theater, National Museum of Natural History, Lecture: “Not only for the Birds and the Bees: Beetles and their role in Pollination”, Presenter: Jonathan Mawdsley, Smithsonian Entomologist

Tuesday, June 17, 10am-1pm, Outdoor Butterfly Garden, National Museum of Natural History
Pollination Party at Smithsonian Gardens, Presenter: Smithsonian Gardens staff and the University of Maryland PollinaTerps

Wednesday, June 18, 2-3pm, Q?rius Theater, National Museum of Natural History, Lecture: “Mysteries of Orchid Pollination: Alternative Lifestyles in the Orchid Family”, Presenter: Tom Mirenda, Smithsonian Orchid Specialist

Thursday, June 19, 2-3 pm, Q?rius Theater, National Museum of Natural History, Lecture: “Backyard orchids: Native Orchids and their pollinators”, Presenter: Dennis Whigham, Smithsonian Ecologist

Friday, June 20, 2–3pm, Live Butterfly Pavilion, National Museum of Natural History, Scientist is In: Plant Conservation, Presenter: Gary Krupnick, Smithsonian Botanist

Art of Pollination

Artists from around the world are invited to submit art relating to our pollinators for possible inclusion in a beautiful book of art. For the 2nd year, professional artists and school children have come together to foster awareness of pollinators through creative expression. Books are available on line through our website and published by MagCloud and WagnerDesign. http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/555950