Cottage Gardening That Supports Pollinators
Now that we’re well into summer, the garden area around my cottage is at its peak for the season. Plants that looked dead during the winter and were modest in the spring are at their fullest sizes now.
This year, more so than other summers I can recall, the bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and butterfly moths have been abundant in the flower beds. Their presence and activity in the garden is a welcome reminder for me of the ecosystem we’re a part of.
Knowing the important work these creatures do, I’ve been thinking about having more plants in my yard that support pollinators for the years to come.
Fortunately, there’s a fantastic pollinator garden just down the road in Pittsboro, North Carolina. So I recently ventured to the Pollinator Paradise Garden at Chatham Mills for inspiration!
The garden was created by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent Debbie Roos in 2009 to support pollinator populations. The garden features more than 200 varieties of flowers, shrubs and grasses and nearly 85% are species native to North Carolina.
Bees and butterflies were ample in the air when I arrived to the garden.
The garden is divided into multiple areas around the Chatham Mills complex. There are islands of plantings in a parking lot which add whimsy to an otherwise mundane space. Beds along the mill building and in open areas create lovely visual layers.
After spending time wandering throughout the property, I realized many of the plants in the pollinator garden are also ones favored by cottage gardeners!
Among the cottage flowers that stood out on this visit were the coneflowers and black-eyed susans. Some of them were looking a little spent, which is normal this time of year during the heat of summer. But the pollinators didn't mind one bit!
If you’d like to attract more bees, butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds to your own garden, Debbie Roos has generously put together a wealth of information for us home gardeners.
For plant recommendations throughout the U.S. and Canada, the Pollinator Partnership offers fantastic regional planting guides.
Plants from the pollinator garden that would be right at home in many cottage-style gardens include: hyssop, columbine, milkweed, aster, coneflowers, bee balm, phlox, black-eyed susans, salvia, goldenrod and honeysuckle.
Adding any of these plants, or others suited to your particular region, will create a garden that's beautiful for us humans to enjoy, life-giving to pollinators and helpful to the planet.
If you're a gardener, what plants and flowers do you like to keep in your garden?
Previous: Before & After: My Colorful Cottage Next: When summer travel and reading intersect: Montréal and the Inspector Gamache series