Building a Pollinator Garden

Pollinators are in decline and need our help. They are incredibly important as they are responsible for nearly 80% of the world’s flowering plants which translates into the production of fruits, nuts, and berries. Creating a pollinator garden is simple and will add long-lasting beauty to your outdoor living space. Here’s how to get started.

Choose the proper location – Many flowering plants that attract pollinators prefer a sunny spot. Try to pick a location that gets 4-6 hours of direct sun daily. An area protected from wind will be more inviting to pollinators and help young plants get established.

Amend the soil – Lighten heavy clay soil with amendments such as humus and peat moss. This will ensure the area drains properly and plants will thrive. Products like Leaf Gro, and other composts, will also add nutrients essential to plant health.

Select your plants – We carry a wide variety of perennials that will be irresistible to bees and butterflies. Some to consider are milkweed, phlox, candytuft, peony, salvia, coreopsis, coneflower, black-eyed susan, shasta daisy, daylily, joe pye weed, solidago, and lobelia.

 

Create a habitat – Adding a birdbath or fountain will offer a water source for pollinators and make the area more enticing. Another great way to encourage pollinators is to provide nesting sites. Consider incorporating bee houses, rock piles, piles of sticks or dead wood, perennial grasses, or simply leaving some areas bare.

Feed the caterpillars – Monarch caterpillars only feed on milkweed and use it to lay their eggs so be sure to include this plant in your garden. Add fennel, parsley, and dill to give other caterpillars something to eat. They will eventually return to your garden as moths and butterflies!

Limit use of pesticides –  It is generally recommended to never use pesticides or herbicides in or near pollinator gardens. A good way to help avoid the need for these harmful chemicals is to plant natives.

Redbuds, Whitebuds

Redbud

Redbuds are an attractive native tree that blooms in early spring alongside dogwoods. They are quite showy with fuschia colored flowers displayed tightly against the branches in late April or early May. Cercis canadensis is the most common species and is a Maryland native.  There are several non-native varieties and hybrids that are also available. All Cercis have distinctive cordate (heart-shaped) leaveswith that turn bright yellow in the autumn. Read more

A Native Beauty

Pink Flowering Dogwood

The species Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood, is one of the most recognizable and beloved of all our native early flowering trees.  The large showy bracts (commonly called showy flowers) are impressive in April as they brighten wooded edges and home landscapes. Keeping track of the many cultivars can be daunting as hundreds exist. Read more

Camellias: A Winter Star

The best remedy to a cold dark winter is the promise of late winter/early spring’s first blooms. No other flowering shrub quite does that with such panache as the genus Camellia. With its double, single, semi-double, peony flowered, anemone flowered, rose form double or formal double flowers, who cares that there may still be snow on the ground when they bloom!   

Camellia japonica is the common bloomer we see in the beginning of the year. There are countless varieties in shades of pink, red, white and even lavender and yellow! They tend to bloom from February to May depending on the variety and siting in the garden. C. sasanqua is the fall blooming species that will emerge in flower starting in September. There are also multiple hybrids that include the above mentioned species in their lineage. Pick varieties that are hardy to Maryland and bloom at the time you want. Read more

When to Prune Your Hydrangeas

 

The showy blooms of the genus Hydrangea are hard to beat for reliable color in the garden, but when do you trim?  We get this question a lot! There are basically old wood bloomers (bloom on last year’s wood) and new wood bloomers (bloom on wood produced this season).  For the old wood bloomers, I would only prune to control size or shape. Also don’t forget to remove spent flowers from your plants. This will keep them tidy looking. Read more

Wisteria: A Bloom Above the Rest

Wisteria

Wisteria is a genus of plants that stirs feelings of both love and hate among those that know it. The detractors see an invasive plant that grows rapidly, spreads its seeds and seems to never leave once planted. Fans of the genus love its fragrant pendulous racemes loaded with bloom each spring. The common varieties include W. floribunda or Japanese Wisteria and W. sinensis or Chinese Wisteria.  Both vigorous vines quickly reach up to 30’ or more and need a strong support system. Careful siting is important to insure their success in the landscape. Read more

Beating Winter Blues

I love my houseplants all year long yet I especially appreciate their presence in the fall and winter! The majority of my plants spend summer outside in various locations around my yard. I bring them in by mid-October and they instantly enliven my house once again. I grow a variety of plants including large leaf tropicals, cacti, and even some tropical cacti! Many have been with me for decades. Read more