Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pollinators: Let's Learn More

Pollinating insects have been the talk of the gardening town lately. All sorts of statistics are available to support the statement that about a third of what we find on our plates is there with the help of pollinators like bees, butterflies, and other animals.

Swallowtail butterflies love the clethra in my backyard
 Magazines, the web, newspapers and the media are worried about keeping pollinators happy and healthy. And, we, the gardening community, can do so much to encourage pollinators by what we plant and how we garden.

Maybe you've read the book by Doug Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home. In it Mr. Tallamy describes the importance of creating habitat for wildlife, including pollinators, at the edges of our own yards, in municipal parks, around farmland and other ecosystems.

A great read for information on gardening for wildlife

 Others, including those in government, have recognized this need and encouraged additional studies and created task forces to implement pollinator friendly practices to get our bees, butterflies, birds, even bats, back up to the numbers needed to provide food to keep our planet healthy. President Obama has even issued a memorandum directing more native plantings around federal buildings and campuses.

We have had the pleasure of getting to know bee expert and entomologist Dr. Jody Johnson, who has helped us understand bees a little better. She will be giving a talk here at Valley View Farms on Saturday, March 28th at 9:00. Following her talk, at 11, Claire Jones, an award-winning landscaper, garden blogger and beekeeper will be here to talk about her experiences with creating habitat for pollinators right here in the Baltimore area. Both women are very knowledgeable and engaging and have an obvious love and fascination for the natural world.

Dr. Johnson's studies took her to the almond groves of California for a huge pollinator event.

NPR and other media are covering the California almond pollinator story
We're curious to catch up with her to see how well the honey bee population performed during what is the largest bee gathering of its kind in the United States and to learn more about how bees socialize and do their work in our gardens. She is also working with a public utility company to implement plantings of large swaths of bee and butterfly friendly plants in rights-of-way in our region.

Claire will share her insights in a talk titled Sex in the Garden-Planting for Bees. I've gotten a sneak preview of her presentation and promise that attendees will walk away with a plan on how to create a beautiful and functional backyard habitat for pollinators.

Claire Jones is at home in her own garden
All of us at Valley View Farms see gardening as a way to make beauty and nature a part of our lives. We are committed to continuing our own education on how pollinators interact with plants and on maintaining a healthy environment for them, and for us.
 Children can get involved too! In fact, this year, we will be giving away 4,000 seed packets to kids featuring Lemon Queen Sunflowers as part of The Great Sunflower Project.

We are glad to share whatever resources we can, including the seminars, handouts and our signs, to aid in providing habitat for our wildlife friends.

Bee a pollinator-friendly gardener