Pollinator Week 2024

Pollinator Week 2024

How are your pollinators doing this year?

June 17th-23rd is Pollinator Week 2024, and as major pollinator people, we want to pause and think about what we can do for all of our pollinators. Native bees, birds, and other pollinators are threatened by habitat loss. Honey bees are threatened by invasive parasites. They (and we) are all threatened by dangerous chemicals spreading in our environment, both intentional and unintentional.

So what can we do?

  • Create Habitat. Habitat loss is the largest threat to our native pollinators. While no single person can fix this, we can work together to make it better. We (Peter and Amy Beth) are lucky to live on a large city lot, and have dedicated roughly 1/4 acre to wild space filled with native plants. It's an ongoing process of restoration from invasive, damaging English ivy that we hope to share with you. Most people won't have that much space to give to pollinators, but if you can leave even a corner of your yard wild, especially if you can fill it with native plants, your local pollinators will thank you!
  • Plant forage. Related to, but not the same as, habitat. Habitat should generally be as untouched, native, and wild as possible to allow for safe nesting space. Pollinators forage over a larger area than just their nesting space, so if you can't provide habitat, provide forage! See below for a list of some of our recommended pollinator and bee friendly plants that are native to the Puget Sound region and/or the Pacific Northwest (west of the Cascades).
  • Don't use yard chemicals. If you have to, use them responsibly.
    • Use chemicals that do not persist in the environment.
    • Only apply chemicals to plants that are not attracting pollinators (don't have flowers), and at times when the application can't spread to plants that are attracting pollinators.
    • Never apply yard chemicals around pollinator habitat, as you will kill pollinator and other beneficial insect larvae and pupae.
    • Both herbicides and insecticides are harmful to pollinators.
    • If you have a pest control company, make sure that they're following these rules too!

Here are some of our favorite native pollinator forage plants that we've used in both our wild space and our ornamental gardens. Links included to purchase seed from Northwest Meadowscapes on Whidbey Island. Many of Northwest Meadowscapes' descriptions also describe the specific pollinators that they have seen on the plant. Of course, these are wildflowers. They will reseed themselves. But that's a good thing, as long as you put them in the right place!

  • Meadowfoam. A beautiful early blooming white and yellow groundcover that readily reseeds itself for a new show next spring. We haven't had any issues with it spreading outside of its area when reseeding, though the seedlings look similar to shotweed, one of the banes of local gardeners. Annual.

  • Globe Gilia. Very pretty blue ball flowers in late spring. Bumble bees love it. Annual.

  • Farewell to Spring (Clarkia amoena). We only got one year out of our planting of this stunning wildflower, but it was gorgeous. Covered in bees, and so beautiful! I don't have a photo to post since we only had it that one year, but you can see photos through the link. Annual.
  • Big leaf lupine and bi-color lupine. We have both, both are beautiful, and the bumbles are all over them during their long bloom period. Seed saving is easy, or you can just let them reseed naturally. If you like lupines, why not choose our native ones? Perennial.

  • Large Flowered Collomia. This pollinator flower has been very successful in our garden, and is super unique. It reseeds fairly aggressively, so make sure to deadhead the flowers before they seed or just be ready to do thin the seedlings out of areas you don't want them the following spring. The seeds stay pretty confined to their area, so it's not much of a task. Annual.

  • Meadow Checkermallow. This is a stunner. A native hollyhock relative, it produces tall stalks (ours grow to around 4 feet) of miniature hollyhock-like flowers. Note that our native checkermallows can be carriers of a hollyhock disease, so if you have cultivated hollyhocks, you should either avoid checkermallow or at least give quite a bit of space between the two. Perennial.

Have a great Pollinator Week! We've got more to share about great ways to help all of our pollinators.

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