How to create your own pollinator-friendly garden using AAS Winners
Having a diverse and significant population of bees, butterflies and other pollinators in the garden is an indicator of success in providing for their needs!
Written/Photos by Mark Dwyer
Landscape Prescriptions by MD
Many All-America Selections (AAS) Winners are “pollinator magnets”. Having the benefit of significant trialing and evaluation, AAS Winners are already a success story waiting to happen in terms of adaptability and performance. Having the added benefit of attracting beneficial pollinators to the garden makes them extremely valuable in our garden beds, borders, and containers.
We’ve all seen the news and research revolving around serious concerns for the health, vitality and population security for bees and other pollinators. The value of insect pollination is staggering when we consider that 40% of all foods and beverages are somehow dependent on insect pollination. Over 200,000 species of creatures serve as pollinators and it makes sense to have beautiful, welcoming garden spaces that help attract, foster, support and invigorate our local pollinator populations.
Five Tips for a Pollinator-Friendly Garden
1.) Include a wide range of All-America Selection (AAS) Winners that promote a diverse pollinator audience.
These twelve AAS Winners can have value and impact in your pollinator-friendly plantings. Massing these plants will not only contribute to the ornamental appeal of the space but these groupings will become destinations for pollinator activity. Including these AAS Winners in containers is also a valuable way of expanding the pollinator appeal of the garden.
2.) Minimize or eliminate chemical use, particularly pesticides, in garden spaces where you seek to maximize pollinator appeal.
Many pesticides are non-selective and may have a dramatic impact on your desired insect populations by adversely affecting both nectar and pollen.
3.) Provide a source of water in the garden.
For many pollinators, a simple, sandy wet patch, puddle or shallow dish of water with a significant edge (for resting) can be beneficial for visiting pollinators.
4.) Consider diversifying plant material to include the widest range of bloom time from the earliest of spring-blooming bulbs to the latest blooming annuals and perennials.
Woody plants may also provide benefits for pollinators. Native plantings can have significant value for pollinators in these combinations.
5.) Include some plants for the larval stage of some of our most beautiful garden insects.
For example, monarch caterpillars benefit from milkweeds (Asclepias sp.) to nibble on and swallowtail caterpillars will enjoy parsley (Petroselinum), dill (Anethum) and fennel (Foeniculum). Accomplish some research to see what plants are the most appropriate and valuable for this “pollinator service” and realize that ideally, you should see some nibbling!
With continued urbanization, population growth, chemical use, and resource management concerns, the value of our gardens as a refuge for pollinators becomes more important. Including pollinator-friendly AAS Winners makes our spaces a colorful and welcome oasis and respite for pollinators that are increasingly challenged with finding these spaces. Adding pollinator-friendly plants to your vegetable garden is a great way to help pollinators and assist your insect pollinating vegetables, read more here.