Want to make a significant difference in the world in a beautiful way?

Plant native flowers!


According to the Xercise Society, fruits and seeds derived from insect pollination are a major part of the diet of approximately 25 percent of all birds, and of mammals ranging from red-backed voles to grizzly bears. Unfortunately, in many places, this essential pollination is at risk  because the pollinators are suffering from habitat loss, pesticide use, and introduced diseases.

We humans are also dependent on these busy bugs that we are threatening.  Pollinators are essential to much of our agricultural efforts.  Many crops rely on pollinators being there at the precise moment when their flowers are ready to be fruitful and multiply, for example, almonds and apples.

Who hasn’t heard about the colony collapse disorder that is affecting agribusiness’ attempt to treat a natural insect population like just another piece of farm equipment?  It’s horrifying the way agribusiness has been decimating native pollinators too with its monoculture crops and heavy pesticide use.wildflower-garden

This year, with our building project still in progress, I have managed to tuck a tiny wild flower garden next to the house, and watching it grow is a daily joy.  Today I saw a pair of birds walking around among the butterfly weed and prairie smoke.

birdThe flowers I have started with contain varieties that will flower from early to late, but I don’t think every seedling will flower this year.  Some of them will.

They are developing flowers already.

I planted this garden right outside my office window.

rattlesnake master

rattlesnake master

Making havens for native pollinators is something anyone with a bit of ground can do, and the win-win part is that a place the appeals to native pollinators also appeals to humans.  We share a similar aesthetic sense when it comes to flowers.  Isn’t that amazing?black-eyed-susan

We are both drawn to these amazing, colorful, creative arrangements of petals and pistols and stamens.

Butterfly weed

Butterfly weed

But to give native pollinators half a chance, we need to plant native flowers.

Purple prairie clover

Purple prairie clover

This is no sacrifice.  They are breathtaking.

No matter where you live in the U.S., you can find native plants.  Check out this website for suppliers in your area.

Rattle snake master

Rattle snake master

Where would some native flowers fit in your landscape?

4 replies

  1. We have lots and lots of wildflowers on our land. We have 5 acres of natural meadow that is cut once a year, usually sometime in July. We also have a large area of grassland that is being cut down on a regular basis but that it is to control an invasive plant, ground elder (I told you about that one before) and reduce the number of insects, but that is because many of them bite and plague the life out of our alpacas, but it doesn’t stop some of the many, many native plants growing though. We have flowers with such wonderful names as orchids, sticky-catch-fly, cornflowers, campanula, bladder campanion, cranesbill geranium, red clover, white clover, speedwell, wild pansies, harebells, hawks beard, wild strawberries, ragged robin, scabious, valerian, cabbage thistle, bistort and plantain and those are just the ones I have been able to identify.

  2. Is that a white birch I see newly planted near your French doors in the second photo? What trees have you planted to offer shade or for landscaping, now that the construction is complete?

    • Hi Julian
      No, we haven’t planted any birch. I’m writing this with the sound of a backhoe roaring outside my window. The gullies forming from 10 inches of rain we have had recently is illustrating how the contours of the ground need to be modified, so we are still very early in our landscaping plans.
      We worked hard to preserve a maple and a cherry that were growing near the house. The maple provides shade to the solar panels in the summer, and the cherry will protect the house from some of the summer sun.
      So far, and as it is only July 1 we haven’t put Underhill House to the test yet, it has remained comfortably cool in the house. I’ll be reporting further as the summer progresses. For passive solar designs, the toughest months are late summer – August and September – when the weather is still warm but the sun is starting to drop down and shine into the windows again. So we are waiting with great curiousity to see how those months feel.
      Most of our landscaping is going to be aimed at creating a native habitat for birds and insects. This spring we planted a handful of shrubs and trees to the south of the house to create a natural blind between us and our little pond. We transplanted over a dozen clumps of Redosier Dogwood that seem to be off to a good start, and we bought a few plants from the UW-Arboretum native plant sale: a Pagoda Dogwood, an American Plum, 2 Highbush Cranberries and a Chokeberry bush. These were selected to provide shelter and food for birds early and late.

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