Here it is, the end of January 2017 already!! A question that I ask myself every year is...
"Is it warmer than last year? Is there climate change?"
My answer to myself every year is.....YES!! It has been warmer every year. In the winter of 2015, the months of warmer weather were different than those in 2016, but over all, the winter was warmer.
I do Love living in North Carolina for the mild winters, but the summers can be pretty brutal. The saving grace is, can we get enough rain? In my area of North Carolina, we did get ample rain in the summer of 2016, but the previous summer of 2015, we did not. Most plants in my landscape and gardens cannot survive the summers with NO rain and must be supplemented with watering. Especially new plantings must be watered to keep them alive and get them established. There are still some plants that succumb to the hot, dry months. I find, mostly those in dry shade.
This is why I continually try to find Native plants that are meant for my specific area. When a cultivar that is not really meant for my area "bites the dust", I do not try to replant it, but instead look for a hardy native that can take it's place.
I want easy gardening that works with nature and leaves me a little less exhausted in trying to keep plants alive. In my lawn you find all of the things that grow easily and usually help to feed by bees. Things like Clover, Dandelions, Purple Dead Nettle, Henbit and lots of Chickweed! It flourishes in the early spring and by early summer it is gone. The heat makes the roots shrink back into the soil. I can be assured that it will be back in the coming spring. There is an area of my lawn that I do not mow until the Dead Nettle and Henbit have finished blooming. Each Spring there is an abundance of pollinators collecting the wonderful pollen that they need for their babies.
WHAT CAN I DO?
I have a new pollinator garden that it in it's second year. I am expecting wonderful things from it in 2017. It is in full sun most of the day, so most of these plants are sun lovers. Here is a list of what is planted in it:
Mountain Mint -Pycnanthemum an aggressive spreader that bees Love. It will take over a large area, so give it some room!
Milkweed & Butterfly Weed -Asclepias- for my butterflies and bees
Joe Pye Weed - Eutrochium purpureum - a "so called" weed that pollinators go crazy for.
Cardinal Flower - Lobelia cardinalis - this one is listed as a "bee plant" but I understand that the honey bee cannot see the color "red". So I guess it will be mostly for the hummingbirds.
Maryland Aster -Chrysopsis mariana - a great spreading yellow perennial aster. Native to my area
New England Aster - Symphyotrichum novae-angliae - another great reseeding perennial. Purple with yellow center, native to my area.
Cosmos - Coreopsidea - a reseeding annual that comes in many colors. There is pink, yellow, white and I just found a purple one. Pollinators Love it. Deadheading prolongs flowering, speeds up flower development & branching.
Cleome - Cleome hassleriana -another reseeding annual in shades of pink and purple.
Hyssop - Agastache -there are many varieties of Hyssop. A perennial that is worth getting.
Coreopsis - again, several varieties such as Classic Coreopsis & Tickseed. A daisy like flower on a plant that won't quit, despite heat or lack of water. Just plant and enjoy. And now there's a Coreopsis to go with every color scheme, from pumpkin orange and vivid pink.
Verbena on A Stick - Verbena Bonariensis - A pollinator magnet. I find so many insects on this flower. Some I have never seen before. It naturalizes very nicely, but you will find it planted it's self in other areas from bird droppings.
Russian Sage - Perovskia atriplicifolia - Another Pollinator magnet!! A flowering herbaceous perennial and sub-shrub. This non-native (to either Russia or the US) is closely related to the Saliva family. This plant has silver-gray foliage with bright purple flowers and is very drought tolerant.
Golden Rod - Solidago - there are many species of Golden Rod throughout the US. There are so many species, that they cannot name them all. In my area, Golden Rod starts blooming in early August and different species continue blooming until the end of October. A shorter version in my pollinator garden is "Solidago Fireworks".
Mexican Sunflower - this tall bight orange annual has become a favorite. Given to me by a fellow "Master Gardener" it stands out in the pollinator garden. Butterflies just Love it. It re-seeds and if it becomes too vigorous, I just pull the plants out, or if seedlings are small enough, a swipe of the hoe eliminates some.
American Witch Hazel -Hamamelis virginiana - a native small tree that grows throughout northeast and southeast North America. It is not necessarily a pollinator plant, but is a very attractive addition to any landscape.
I am seeding more plants for this garden, but the above list should give you some idea on what to plant in a sunny area.
You can have a large garden area or just plants in pots, but you can HELP......
Because, in 2017, it is ALL ABOUT THE POLLINATORS!!!!!