|Pollinator habitats in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden. |
Photo by Sue Lannon.
While visiting Mount Mitchell State Park in western North Carolina over Labor Day weekend in 2016, I witnessed a native bee pressing open the lipped petals of the pink turtlehead (Chelone lyonii). It made me think of the importance of that moment and yet how that bee had already visited hundreds of flowers that day in order to collect pollen on the side of her legs. I quickly yelled to my son to come get an up-close view. This was a perfect opportunity to show him the importance of that little creature.
Insect pollinators may seem like a small part of our daily lives, but they have an enormous impact on us. Fortunately, gardeners’ interest in pollinators appears to be growing, judging from sales of pollinator plants at our Fall & Spring Plant Sales. That's heartening for horticulturists like me, who are devoted to attracting pollinators to Duke Gardens and teaching visitors about these species’ roles in our lives.
|Honey bee (Apis mellifera) on a |
rudbeckia flower in the Discovery Garden.
Photo by Kathy Julian.
This act of pollination allows many types of plants to produce fruits and seeds, helping to create vigorous plants over many generations.
Approximately 75 percent of all plants in the world require animals for pollination. These animals are part of many humans’ daily diets, something worth keeping in mind as we seek ways to help the plants around us thrive.
If you’re excited about helping pollinators, try planting species that will bring them to your garden. “Attracting Native Pollinators,” by The Xerces Society, is a great resource to learn more. If you already have these plants, consider leaving perennials longer through the fall and winter for habitat. Many of these species will create nests within the dead stems of perennial species. Get creative and build pollinator houses or insect hotels. They’re similar to bird houses, but you leave off the front wall and pack it with small stems of bamboo so that solitary insect species can build nests inside. Remember, if you build it, they will come!
FALL PLANT SALE INFO:
Date: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018
Time: 9 a.m.-noon
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only previews sale from 8-9 a.m., and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation.
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing the event on Facebook and inviting your friends.
Jason Holmes is curator of the Doris Duke Center Gardens at Duke Gardens. This article is adapted from a previous post in Sept. 2016.