As many of you are aware, Pierce County's NDSU Extension Master Gardener Model Pollinator Garden is located in the existing flower beds of the Pierce County Memorial Building on the Southeast corner of 2nd Avenue and 3rd Street Southeast.
There are 15 other NDSU Extension model pollinator gardens located throughout North Dakota.
The Pierce County pollinator garden was planted on Friday, June 3rd with the help of two area Master Gardeners, Annalise Jahnre and Meryle Vinje, who also helped with the garden design, selection of the native plant species, and garden upkeep. A third cooperating Master Gardener, Stacy Beckman, also helped with the garden design, plant selection and upkeep.
This year was primarily an establishment year for our grant funded pollinator garden. Community residents can expect educational programming efforts to begin during the 2017 growing season.
In the meantime, I'd like to recap and explain some of the grant requirements we followed to create a hospitable environment for pollinator species.
1.Native Plants - Native plants are extremely important to bees because these plants co-evolved with our native pollinators. Therefore, they are more likely to provide larger quantities of nectar and pollen. Native plants attract more native pollinators and also serve as larval host plants for some of our pollinator species.
2.Season-Long Sources of Nectar and Pollen - Since many species of bees and other pollinators are active at any given time throughout the entire growing season, a continuous supply of blooming plants from early spring through fall is important. For a list of plants contained in our garden see the end of this article.
3.Water Source - Both bees and butterflies require a water source because they need to supplement the liquid found in nectar. A bird bath or fountain certainly is attractive, but simpler water sources are acceptable. Our pollinator garden features a painted clay pot bird bath with rocks in it for the bees and butterflies to land on.
4.Suitable Habitat and Shelter - Ground-dwelling and cavity-dwelling pollinators need shelter to rest and overwinter. Habitat for cavity nesters can be provided by postponing clean-up of perennial flower beds until the following spring. Dead stalks are left until the spring daytime temperatures are consistently in the 50s as this is when the pollinators come out of winter dormancy. Another option is to purchase or build a bee house for cavity-nesting bees cavity nesting and other bees do not sting unless provoked. Residents who visit or travel past our model garden beds will notice that our pollinator plants will remain in place until spring. In the spring we will be adding both a bee and a butterfly house.
5.Wise Pesticide Use - Spraying insecticide on blooming flowers is especially deadly for all bee species. In addition, spraying herbicides to kill weeds in gardens or lawns removes the diversity and abundance of flowering plants needed by bees throughout the growing season.
Reduce pesticide use by:
Use the least toxic pesticide
Don't spray blooming plants
Spray late in the evening
Always follow the pesticide label
Identify the pest before taking action
The garden beds at our pollinator garden contain varying combinations of the following plants: Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum), Red Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis), Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla patens), White Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba), Salvia (Salvia nemorosa) ,Butterfly Milkweed (Zizia aurea), Golden Alexander (Asclepias tuberosa), Meadow Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylis), Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa), Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida), Tall Sedum, Cosmos (Cosmos spp.), and Borage (Borago officinalis)
For more information, such as learning how to identify major pollinators, choose plants that will provide a continuous source of nectar and pollen during the growing season, and safely use pesticides, download the NDSU Extension publication H1811 "Bee-utiful Landscapes: Building a Pollinator Garden" at www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/lawns-gardens-trees .
Additional information on butterfly and pollinator gardens can also be found in the NDSU Extension publication E-1266, "Butterfly Gardening in North Dakota " which can be obtained at your local NDSU Extension office or online at www.ag.ndsu.edu/extensionentomology/urban-and-forestry-insect-pests/documents/gardens/e-1266-butterfly-gardening-in-north-dakota.
Another publication, "Living Landscapes in North Dakota: A Guide to Native Plantscaping", can be found by visiting www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs141p2_001520.pdf - for hard copies of this publication please check with your local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office for availability.