Plant and They Will Come Again and Again

                 Perennials for Pollinators

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Mexican Bush Sage ( Salvia leucantha)

A very cost effective and efficient way of adding pollinator plants to the landscape is by planting perennials. Perennials are plants that live more than one year. While many die back in the winter, the plants will return, providing another year of nectar for pollinators and  grand displays of color. Mexican bush sage, thrives in full sun and is an easy plant to propagate, just stick  a cutting into potting soil.

 

Fire Spike or Cardinal Spear (Odontonema strictum) is a favorite for hummingbirds as well as butterflies. Preferring moist, well drained soil, this perennial  can be propagated easily and shared with friends. It does well in full sun or partial shade. Cardinal spears and Mexican bush sage are winners for gardeners and pollinators! Learn about these pollinator plants and many others by clicking here.

 

A long-tailed skipper, ready to unfurl its proboscis, rests on the tubular flowers of a Mexican bush sage. Learn more about this little erratic little flyer by clicking here.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds love cardinal spears.  The lack of red feathers on this fall visitor indicates it may be a female or an immature male. Mature males fly south in mid-summer, while mature females and immature hummers wait until late summer and fall. Learn more about ruby-throats by clicking here.

 

 

Plant And They Will Come

                        Annuals in the Landscape    

           “The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Pollinators contribute enormously to an ecosystem in the process of acquiring sustenance. While the transfer of pollen is an  invaluable contribution,  one cannot underestimate the balm pollinators provide for the spirit. Time spent in the observation and appreciation of these delicate creatures  is never wasted.

In an effort to attract pollinators to the local landscape, the first and quite appropriate response is to plant nectar plants.  An abundance of annuals and perennials are available  from local garden centers and sales sponsored by botanical gardens. Annuals are plants that live for one season while perennials  live  more than one season.

Vinca is an easy-to-grow annual to attract pollinators. Available in a variety of colors, it is a budget friendly addition to the landscape. Gardeners will be pleasantly  surprised  in the spring to  find this sun lover will sometimes reseed.  Hummingbird moths find vinca a favorite source of nectar.

 

Another budget friendly and sun loving annual  is the zinnia. It too, comes in a variety of colors as well as heights. The dwarf variety pictured, is particularly well liked  by butterflies including the Painted Lady.  Click here to learn more about zinnias .

More can be learned about the equally beautiful, Painted Lady, by clicking here.

 

This industrious little bee reminds us that herbs  also provide  nectar sources for pollinators.  Basil, Ocimum basilicum,  is an annual in the mint family.

 

 

 

The common checkered-skipper is another frequent visitor to basil plants. Plants can be purchased from garden centers and are easily started from seed.

 

Learn more about the common checkered-skipper by clicking here.

 

Picture Perfect Pollinators continued….

        “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Aristotle

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red.   So don’t be surprised when wearing a red shirt and having that morning cup  of caffeine on the back deck .  A face to face confrontation will certainly get the juices flowing.

Bird bander and hummer expert, Bob Sargent, noted that hummers visit the same feeders on almost the same day every year.  So keep the feeders clean and ready for these remarkable visitors.  Bob graciously identified this photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird.  Ruby-throated females and immature males do not have the brilliant red feathers on the throat area.  Rest in peace, Bob.

For more information about ruby-throated hummingbirds visit the Audubon site at
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/ruby-throated-hummingbird

 

 

 

 

Picture Perfect Pollinators continued…

“It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray.”  Rachel Carson

 

It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a bumble bee and a carpenter bee. The carpenter bee has a shiny abdomen while the bumble bee has a hairy abdomen. The abdomen is the third segment of an insect’s body. Are you able to identify this little pollinator? Note to photographer-a few pix from the posterior view of this industrious critter might be a good idea. It appears to  be too busy to be offended!  Learn more about bees at  https://insectidentification.org/insect-description.asp?identification=common-Eastern-Bumble-Bee

Picture Perfect Pollinator

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Rachel Carson

 

Many blissful hours can be spent in capturing the exquisite beauty and absolute mystery of pollinators. What better place could there be for a shutterbug to pursue the joy of photography than in his or her own backyard! The spicebush swallowtail,  one of seven swallowtails found in coastal Alabama,  can be identified by the underwing pattern. Notice the “skyrocket trail” in the pattern of yellow dots.

 

Magnolias, Myrtle, and Marsh Grass

 

      In following the busy schedules of daily life, it is often difficult to appreciate the natural surroundings in which one lives and shares with other living things. Please let this space help in providing an awareness of the varied and beautiful coastal environment on which we all depend.

 

     “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure for as long as life lasts.”  Rachel Carson

Pollinator Paradise

                                    Giant Swallowtail  on Tropical Milkweed

 

The National Fish and Wildlife Service describes pollinators as animals that transfer pollen from one flower to another and may include bees, butterflies and other insects as wells as some birds and bats. Some visit plants for nectar, nest material, shelter, or mates while others including bees, collect pollen. Pollination involves the transfer of pollen from the male part (stamen) , to the female part (stigma) of the same or another flower. This transfer may result in fertilization and the production of seeds and fruit. While most plants rely upon animals for pollination, some plants such as corn and tomatoes, rely upon the wind.

Due to habitat loss and degradation, scientists have noted a decline in wild pollinators.  Honeybees, a non-native species and managed population, suffer from parasites and pathogens. This is worthy of concern as honeybees contributed to over $19 billion of crops in 2010. Learn more about pollinators from the National Fish and Wildlife Service .  https://www.fws.gov/pollinators/