Meet & Greet The Native Pollinators: GREAT GARDEN BOOKS

By Linda Wiggen Kraft

There are two outstanding books that introduce us to native pollinators and show how we can invite them into our gardens. Native pollinators are as important as non-native honeybees in keeping plants and animals, including us, alive. There are over 4,000 species of native bees in the United States. Many of them are more efficient pollinators than honeybees. Some will only pollinate one kind of plant. Many live underground. Some live in hollowed stems and holes in trees. We depend on these native bees, butterflies and other insects and probably don’t know much about who they are, where they live and what they do.

The Xerxes Society’s book titled Attracting Native Pollinators, Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies and author Heather Holm’s Pollinators of Native Plants – Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insect with Native Plants are rich in detail and color photos in their 371 and 301 pages. These books explain who, what, when and where of native pollinators and the cycle of dependence plants and pollinators have with each other. There are also the striking facts of how one of every three bites of food humans consume depends on pollinators. The books also show how to increase pollinator populations in our own gardens and larger landscapes.

It’s hard to put down either book. They explain what pollination is and how plants have evolved in very specialized ways to attract insects and other pollinators. Some plants, like tomatoes, require buzz pollination of bumblebees only. Some plants like sunflowers have flat flower heads that allow short tongued bees access to pollen and nectar. Other flowers have long tube like petals that work for long tongued bees.

The strength of Attracting Native Pollinators is the thoroughness of ways to create pollinator habitat in urban and rural landscapes throughout the United States. In both urban and rural landscapes it is important to provide bare land that will be underground nesting sites of ground dwelling bees. Areas for different kinds of nesting sites are also needed as part of pollinator habitat. In all gardens it is important to provide a wide variety of flowering plants that bloom from early spring to late fall. It is best not to use any pesticides, even organic ones, in a pollinator garden.

The Pollinators of Native Plants book combines photos and information about specific plants and pollinators that visit that plant. For example Ohio Spiderwort, tradescantia ohiensis, is shown along with photos of six different types of bees that collect pollen. Native plants that grow in prairie, woodland edge and wetland edge conditions are featured along with their pollinator companions.

These books are great inspiration and reference for all gardeners. They help us get to know the pollinators we want to meet and help us greet them with welcoming gardens designed just for them.

Visit Linda at wwwCreativityForTheSoul.com or call 314-504-4266.