Beneficial gardens: Pollinator gardens

April 19, 2021 Topics: Nature

To an extent any garden with flowering plants is a pollinator garden; yet pollinators are declining worldwide. Over 80 per cent of flowering plants need pollinators such as bees, birds, butterflies and other animals to develop seed or fruit to reproduce. Having available pollinators is as essential to most flowering plants as water, sunlight and good soil. In fact, most of the earth’s ecosystems including much of our food supply are dependent on pollinators. With hundreds of pollinator species on the verge of extinction, it’s imperative to provide extra support to pollinators to ensure they have the habitat they need.

This is where pollinator gardens come in. Their design and plant choices are focused on attracting large amounts of pollinators. This garden type maximizes opportunities for various types of pollinators by providing a diversity of flowering plants – with an emphasis on native plants. Native plants have evolved to thrive in our specific climate here in Manitoba and require less maintenance than other plants while still providing brilliant displays of colours throughout the season. They have also co-evolved with local pollinators creating more accessible nectar and pollen than hybrid plants.

When thinking about pollinator gardens, some people may be wary of attracting insects into their yard. However, less than one per cent of Canadians have actual sting allergies from bees, wasps and ants. The risk of getting a sting from bees in your yard or garden is very small, especially with a bit of advance knowledge.

Unlike pop culture, bees are not flying around looking for pets and people to sting. You can safely get within 10-15 cm of bees visiting flowers and not get stung. Those who get stung are often harassing bees at their nests, stepping on or pinching them, or when bees become entangled in folds of clothing. Stay away from bee nests which are usually found in a beekeeper’s hive, in tree cavities or underground.

To create a pollinator garden, place the same types of native plants in one location massed together. This reduces search time for pollinators by helping them collect pollen and nectar more efficiently. When selecting a variety of native plants, choose a mixture that will keep your garden blooming from spring to end of fall. If you have a lot of space, try including plants of different heights with trees, shrubs or vines mixed in to create a layered effect.

Find a wide variety of native plants here in Manitoba by visiting Prairie Originals native prairie plant nursery. Located in Selkirk, this nursery specializes in growing native prairie wildflowers and native plants that will help to create a beautiful, rewarding and easy to take care of pollinator garden. You can also visit their booth at the St. Norbert Farmer’s Market from late May to early August each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Follow our beneficial garden series to learn more about popular garden types that will not only enhance your yard’s beauty but will benefit you and our local wildlife as well.

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