We just finished Pollinator Week yesterday but of course the work of providing for pollinators is really never done.
And before anyone takes umbrage at my title, let’s be clear about what I am saying. First, I am not advocating for invasive plants–whatever those plants are for you in your region or ecosystem. I just read a post yesterday fra gentleman who is generally a responsible garden writer and he was suggesting planting butterfly bushes for butterflies. I thought that ship had sailed long ago, and we didn’t do that–even though there are now some buddleias that are thought to be sterile. So you’re not going to see anything about those here.
Next, I do love native plants. Period. Full stop. But I married a house with lots of mature plantings. Luckily many are native. Some are not. It is irresponsible and not sustainable to destroy mature and non-invasive plants for the sake of natives.
And guess what? When my pieris japonica blooms in early spring, my native bumble bees are all over it, because it is the only thing in bloom. This is what I mean about non-native pollinators.
The above photo is a perfect example of what I mean. The bees love this little bit of cat mint. Once the mountain mint (a native) blooms, they will move on. But until it does, they need something.
And it’s hard to see in all the weediness here, but the ornamental oregano is just coming into bloom. This too is a pollinator magnet. It’s obviously not native. Do I care? Not at all.
If the bees would like native, they may have all the clover. I know butterfly larva like that. I mostly see non-native honeybees on it. Go figure.
The pollinator fad can be annoying. Most of the ‘trendy’ pollinators here are exotic, including the overly common European honeybee. (Of course, I do like honeybees, and I do like honey, but I really doubt that they need my help to do what they must.) Also, most of the ‘trendy’ flowers that appeal to pollinators are not only exotic, but distract some of the pollinators, both exotic and native, from native plants that rely on them. (Of course, I do like my exotic plants). Such distraction of pollinators could be associated with the scarcity of native California poppy and sky lupine. Yet, people enjoy attracting pollinators to their garden while they should be out doing their important work in the wild.
Annoying or not, even I have noticed a distinct decline in the number of insects–good and bad–visiting my garden. Some, like the various types of scarab beetles that chew holes in my leaves, I don’t miss–but I was remarking to my sister when she was visiting that I never see the so-called June beetle anymore. We used to have them in droves. You couldn’t take the dog out at night without being dive-bombed by them.
They are not pollinators but the numbers of everything–is so on the decline. You have heard of the insect apocalypse. I try very hard to keep things positive here but sometimes the decline of all of this is frightening.
One positive: she went out one evening to try to find our pair of owls. No luck on the owls, but she said that the fireflies were phenomenal.