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Blooms for bees

NOT THAT LONG AGO, I would be asked to recommend plants that would not attract bees. Happily, that has changed. More and more gardeners now understand the importance of bees and other pollinators, and they want them in their gardens. 

When you choose plants, consider options that are not only healthy and beautiful, but will also contribute to a healthy and vigorous ecosystem. Plants that provide essential nectar and pollen are favored by hummingbirds, along with butterflies, bees and many other beneficial insects. 

Try to incorporate plants that bloom when pollinators are active, from early spring to fall. In the spring, plants like alyssum, lobelia and columbine will be attractive to pollinators. In the summer, coneflower, monarda, sedum and marigold (just to name a few), as well herbs like basil and oregano, will have your garden abuzz. And in the fall, try to incorporate some asters, sunflowers and zinnias. 

One perennial early season bloomer, columbine, can readily naturalize in a partly shaded and moist but well-drained location. Using plants that readily naturalize and can be planted by seed can extend your gardening budget, enabling you to plant more. 

Kirigami columbine, shown above, has upright flowers and blooms well its first year, whether you use a nursery plant or start it yourself from seed. The flowers are a good source of nectar and pollen but also make good cut flowers if you dare to cut a few and bring them indoors for your own enjoyment. 

In the garden, one positive change is an important contribution. Success with one change often opens the door to more opportunities to foster change, like adding pollinator friendly plants to your landscape. If you are new to gardening and just learning about plants, it’s OK to start small. Even with just one plant at a time, you can begin making a positive, Earth-friendly contribution.

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