Sunday, October 23, 2016

How to Make a Pollinator Garden

After being inaccessible for some time, the printed version of this simple booklet is available for C$8.00 from Seeds of Diversity: Click to open the Publications section of the page and you'll find this and other resources on pollinators and gardening. Prive includes shipping in Canada.

Fall flowers for the last pollinators

Sternbergia lutea, blooming Oct. 23 2016
With our warming climate, bumblebees and honeybees are still out on flowers here in Toronto, Canada even at the end of October. I thought I'd post a few pictures of what's blooming in my garden in September and October.

Sternbergia lutea is bulb from Europe and Asia. It's been called fall crocus (wrong, not a crocus), lily of the field (wrong, not a lily) or fall daffodil (close; not a daffodil but in the Amaryllis family with daffs).

The beautiful flowers just appeared today. This is frankly wild optimisim on my part: the bulb is only hardy to USDA zone 7, so will probably die some harsh winter here in Toronto. But it has come through one winter here already, and I will mulch it before January hard freezes start.

Fall crocus
My fall crocuses are actually members of the crocus genus. We get saffron from Crocus sativus, but the flowers blooming here from early October are more likely hybrids with Crocus speciosus as a major parent.

The fall crocuses have an ideal planting spot: some freely draining grit that was put in around the house foundations when we renovated. This drainage helps them get through wet periods in winter. (Fall crocus is not as hardy as spring crocuses).

Salvia coccinea

I actually have three salvias blooming abundantly now - coccinea, elegans, and guaranitica. The first is native to the southern US, and I grow it from seed each year. Started indoors, it can be blooming by July in Toronto, earlier in a hotter place. It's attractive to bumblebees, hummungbirds, and some butterflies. The second is known as Pineapple Sage from the scent of its leaves. It's not hardy; I propagate it either through fall cuttings (easy) or by bringing a pot indoors and letting it go dormant in the basement. The third is dark blue and blooms from midsummer until frost. It's from Brazil so it's no surprise that it's not winter hardy in Canada; but I did bring plants through two winters in Virginia with heavy mulch.

Speaking of Virginia, this blog has been almost dormant the past three years, during which time I changed jobs twice, moved to Virginia then back to Toronto, put the house through a major renovation, and so on...I'm just really getting back into pollinator activities now. Hope to be posting more often as gardening activities draw to a close this fall!