On Monday I talked about the importance of native plants. I said that if you had a choice, and if you liked native plants, you should choose them because wildlife will always seek out native plants.
For all of you who don’t have natives in your yard (& I include myself in that group because a large portion of my yard is planted with ornamental plants) I will refer you to Douglas Tallamay’s still excellent book Bringing Nature Home. It was there that I learned about the true importance of native plants, and that an native oak tree will feed several hundred different types of creatures whereas some of our imported ornamentals feed none. They’re lovely to look at but absolutely barren in terms of value to wildlife.
But that doesn’t mean that all our ornamentals have no value to wildlife. Anyone who has watched bees on Japanese pieris early in the spring knows that that shrub, imported ornamental that it is, is quite valuable to the early emerging bumble bees in my region.
Similarly, hydrangeas of all sorts are usually covered in pollinators (at least in my yard). I have seen several different types of bees, a couple of different types of wasps, and a few different types of flies all on my hydrangeas (yes, I have a lot of hydrangeas).
Another non-native ornamental, roses, also attract bees. This Oso Easy rose was full of several different kinds of bees, none of which obligingly posed for me. I saw several smaller bees, plus honeybees and bumblebees all on this large shrub.
Catnip (nepeta) and lavender are two more perennials that are always covered in bees of all sorts. You can see a bumble bees on the nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ in the above photo.
And speaking of herbs, we are told to plant various sorts of herbs to assist different types of pollinators: parsley, dill, anything with an umbel flower. None of those are “natives.”
In the heat last week, some of my leaf lettuce went to seed. But the smaller bees are loving the flowers so I am letting those stay as well.
So if you are feeling a little inferior, perhaps, because you don’t have native plants, or enough native plants, or the right kind of native plants, fear not! You can still garden for pollinators and they’ll love you!