Celebrate National Pollinator Week June 20-26

“There are two things each and every one of us can do to help bee populations. We can plant bee-friendly flowers in our gardens without pesticides. Also, we can all campaign to have a wide a variety of flowers planted in community gardens and on roadsides, and to have flower borders planted around farms” says Dr. Marla Spivak, MacArthur award winner.

Join the Wilton Pollinator Pathway and help native bees, and other pollinator insects including butterflies, by offering a range of native plants in your yard. The Wilton Pollinator Pathway is a wildlife habitat corridor under development and includes private yards and public spaces. Residents who want to participate can think big or small. A container garden with the right flowers can be beneficial, because every little bit will add more to the habitat and nutrition available to bees and other pollinators. Or think big: consider returning some of the lawn you’re not using to pollinator habitat.

Following some guidelines will establish an environment that is friendly to pollinators while creating a lovely, natural view for property owners:

  • Use local native plants;

  • Choose several colors of flowers;

  • Plant flowers in clumps;

  • Include flowers with different shapes;

  • Have a diversity of plants flowering all season. This will make your garden more beautiful and by having several plant species flowering at once and a sequence of plants flowering through spring, summer and fall you can support a wide range of native bees that fly at different times in the season.

Some suggested native plants: Milkweeds, Bee balm, Mountain Mint, Purple Coneflower, Penstemon, Goldenrod, Asters, Black-eyed Susan, Hyssop, Baptisia, Lobelia and Joe Pye weed. Native trees, shrubs and vines are also important as host plants (supporting caterpillars that become butterflies) and nectar sources for pollinators. Some recommended native trees: Maples, Oaks, Wild Cherry, Linden (Basswood), Tulip Tree, Catalpa, Buckeye (Horse Chestnut), Redbud, Crabapple.

Pollinator favorites for sunny sites in bloom in June: Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea) Spiderwort (Tradescantia) Baptista and Lupines. Coming soon in late June/July are Milkweeds. If you have a shady site, there are many pollinator-friendly plants that grow along a shady woodland edge and in dappled light. Some favorite shade-loving plants that bloom in June: Columbines, Phlox, Wild geranium (Geranium), Sweet Cicely, (Osmorhiza), and Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium).

Nicholas Johnson and Alison Munroa, Wilton High School seniors working as interns at the recently established NRVT Pollinator Pathway site, note that bumblebees pollinate via a method known as “buzz pollination,” which involves rapidly twitching their flight muscles to more effectively extract pollen from flowers. Bumblebees are especially useful to pollinate tomato plants, eggplants, and other crops, as well.

To “bee” on the Pollinator Pathway, call 877-679-2463 (877-NRWA-INFO) or email  (wiltonpollinatorpathway@gmail.com). See our Facebook page @wiltonpollinatorpathway to hear about planting parties, get resources about native plants, find out about community events and request a free habitat assessment of your property by a master gardener.