Saturday, January 26, 2019

Creating Pollinator Gardens - Let's Go Native! UPDATED FREQUENTLY

We aim to improve the soil, create a diverse native plant habitat for our local pollinators, insects, birds, amphibians, and mammal friends. As well as to grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers for ourselves.

INDEX of what is in this posting.
  1. Pollinators-characteristics, importance of, examples of.
  2. Why it is important to grow Native plants.
  3. What you can do to help.
  4. List of locations to purchase native plants.
  5. How to Grow Native Wildflowers & Grasses from SEED. 5b. Native seed collecting (a coordinated effort) 
  6. What is a hybrid? What is a cultivar? What is a variety?
  7. Invasive Plants - Be Aware.
  8. Butterfly, native Bee & Dragonfly attracting tips.
  9. How to plant native pollinator plants.
  10. Our Yard Goals
  11. Bernie's Native Gardening tips
  12. Importance of healthy soil and so called weeds.
  13. Resource Links to help you with native plant ID, care...
  14. New England Native plants with wildlife value and desirable landscaping attributes
  15. New England planting recommendations from New England Wildflower Society. 
  16. References
  17. Food for Thought Quotes
  18. Climate Change - Global Warming

Let's Go Native! Plant Native plants that benefit pollinators. Why? Because....

According to the Vermont Community Garden Network "More than three-quarters of the world's food crops benefit from animal pollination - the bees and other creatures whose help we need to produce many of the foods we eat. Unfortunately, both honeybees and many species of native bees are in trouble. (VT has two hundred and seventy species of native bees.)  Populations of both are in sharp decline due to pesticide use, disease and parasite problems, and loss of food and nesting habitat. "A team of researchers from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies has found that several species of bumblebees native to the state are in severe decline or appear to have vanished according to a recent published study by VTEcostudies and the Gund Institute. A NYT article "The Insect Apocalypse is Here" states, "What we're losing is not just the diversity part of biodiversity, but the bio part: life in sheer quantity." Bryan Pheifer in the "Extinction of Meaning" writes "What worries me, is that in the end, I suspect few among us will mourn the passing of a butterfly." 

Many kinds of butterflies and other wild pollinators are also in jeopardy. Insects are the foundation of the food chain.

UVM professor and author Bernd Heinrich writes in his book - A Naturalist At Large, "I was weaned on the concept of an ecological balance in nature, built on an intricate web of relationships among plants, herbivores, predators, and other life forms, where the fate of one can have a domino effect on the others."

This is why it’s so important to learn about and do all we can to protect all kinds of pollinators. And important to understand that pollinators need Native plants.


1. First a Little About Pollinators

Photos (slides) credit: Annie White lecture / Wild Flower Society.

2. Why Native Plants? 
Douglas Tallamy author of Bringing Nature Home advises, The native pollinators of your area have a long evolutionary history tied closely with the native plants of your region and, understandably, have a preference for what they are used to, in some cases they simply won't visit or can't digest most newcomer [Non Native] or exotic plants. 

Slide credit: Annie White lecture / Wild Flower Society.

Native defined as a plant that is interacting with the community (plants, animals and pathogens) that historically helped shape it.

Or this definition -

native: a plant or animal that has evolved in a given place over a period of time sufficient to develop complex and essential relationships with the physical environment and other organisms in a given ecological community. 
From The Living Landscape (2014), by Rick Darke & Doug Tallamy.

Why? Because Audubon Society reports: New research finds that Carolina Chickadees require a landscape with seventy percent native plants to keep their population steady. Is your yard more of a 'food desert' or delectable buffet?

A single pair of breeding chickadees must find 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to rear one clutch of young, according to Doug Tallamy, a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware.
                                              Want songbirds? Plant natives.

 "The team's research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found only one distinction that determines if a spot is a boom or a bust for a bird population: whether it has plants native to the area." Nesting birds need insects to feed their chicks. 

These bugs (insects) need native plants. If you want to help the birds, plant native plants.

Slide credit: Annie White lecture / Wild Flower Society.

Why here in your hometown, in your yard? Because you want to protect Jericho and Vermont - the place where you live.  In our own backyards, native pollinator populations are dropping. More than one-quarter of the bumblebee species in the Northeast are threatened or have disappeared. Because you want to maintain the biodiversity of our homeland - our local butterflies, bees, birds and other local creatures as well as native flowers - that identify our home as a unique place in the world- as our home.

By choosing native plants - which do not require any artificial fertilizers, synthetic chemical pesticides or herbicides - for your landscape, you create a healthier place for yourself, your family, your community. 

Watch this four minute video by famed scientist E.O Wilson as he explains biodiversity, its importance, what we are losing and how fast, and what we need to do.  

Is your weed killer a risk to you and your family? Read about Glyphosate (primary ingredient in Roundup) here

We can help maintain a sense of place (belonging and familiarity) by growing plants that are native to our area. 

Volunteers help install a Native Perennial Plant Garden
 in Jericho Ctr. near the Jericho Country Store

Here click here for information about planing on the "hellstrip" the soil space between the road and the sidewalk. 

Hometown Habitat – LOCAL PLANTING TIPS

In May, 2019 Sabina Ernst and the Jericho Energy Task Force Presented: Hometown Habitat (movie), stories of bringing nature home.

Once established, native plants don’t require the use of any chemicals or even extra watering and local birds and pollinators would rather visit them than visit artificial feeders. (In many cases they can eat only specific native plants).
Hometown Habitat is sponsored by the Jericho Conservation Commission and the Jericho Energy Task Force. The movie profiles seven “habitat heroes” who have used native plants to fill their yards and interviews entomologist Douglas Tallamy (author of “Bringing Nature Home”) who speaks how non-native plants can lead to habitat and species loss. The movie and following discussion inspired the audience to become habitat heroes by providing habitat for our own native wildlife. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Native plants support the Food Web of Life, including our own.
  • Native plants interact with the community (plants, animals, pathogens) that historically helped shape it. Native plants adapted (defensive measures) to native insects over a millennia.
  • Native plants (once established) when planted in the right location, require less care than non-native plants.
  • Our pollinators, butterflies, bees, birds, insects, and the rest of our native wildlife on the food web require native plants.
  • Non native plants (aliens) oftentimes disrupt and displace native plants. Some become invasive. (Like Buckthorn, burning bush, Japanese Barberry, alien honeysuckle (there is a native honeysuckle) ...). Some of the worst plant offenders actually produce chemicals within their tissues to prevent other plants from growing near them.  In most cases, these invasive plants are nursery plants that have escaped cultivation in people's gardens and gotten into the wild, displacing the native plants. 
  • You can be a Habitat Hero by planting native plants in your landscape. Consider limiting lawn areas to where you walk and designated areas that need low walk able sod. Fill the rest of your landscape with native plants for improved property value, pollinator attraction, and for your own enjoyment. Annie White said it so well: "Think of lawn as an area rug - not wall to wall carpet." Another reason to let go of some lawn is: reduced time doing yard work and fewer resources (fuel, water) spent.
  • Recognizing the importance of vulnerable pollinator species and their habitats, as well as initiating preservation efforts is key to maintaining our biological balance. (From Pollinator Partnership)

 Web search can locate sites that list native plants for your location by zip code or town. Bring both common and Latin name when you go shopping to insure the plants you get are indeed native to your planting area. 
 Nativeplantfinder   from National Wildlife Federation and Plantsforbirds from Audubon are good tools to identify what plants are native in your area.
A good reference book is "Native Plants for New England Gardens" by Mark Richardson and Dan Jaffe. Also, check out Doug Tallamy’s “Bringing Nature Home”.

 Photo/slide credit: Annie White lecture / Wild Flower Society.

John and Nancy Haden at The Farm Between tell us "A diversity of native plants is also important to support insects, birds, and other wildlife. While some people might cringe at seeing caterpillars on their plants, we like it because we know that where there are caterpillars there are (or soon will be) butterflies."  

With alien grass lawns, and nonnative shrubs, flowers and trees, we have created biological deserts around our homes.
"Great" some say. "No bugs.""

"But no bugs mean no birds, as almost all bird species (even those seed eaters) feed insects and other arthropods to their young. If  you have mostly lawn, when you plant a few fruit trees and berry bushes, you don't have the beneficial predators and parasites to keep your fruit pests in check."  

Douglas Tallamy writes in Bringing Nature Home, Of the four million or so insect species on earth, a mere 1 percent interact with humans in negative ways. The other ninety-nine percent of the insect species pollinate plants, return the nutrients tied up in dead plants and animals to the soil, keep populations of insect herbivores in check, aerate and enrich the soil, and provide food either directly or indirectly for most other animals. 

Connection between nature / biodiversity and our quality of life.
Thomas Lovejoy, tells us "Ecosystems will go through small collapses, but they usually don't go through big collapses - they just erode, and become less capable of doing what they were doing before. So what we're going through as a planet is the erosion of the biology of the planet, and its ability to support people - and it makes no sense at all."

1.    "Carbon emissions have rendered meaningless the ideal of a wilderness untouched by man; the new ideal is “wildness,” which is measured not by isolation from disturbance but by the diversity of organisms that can complete their life cycles." The End of the End of the Earth Essays by Jonathan Franzen. 

Read more on biodiversity @ What is Biodiversity and what does it matter to us? Also this article from Bird Life about Biodiversity.

Read what regenerative farming is @

                "What would the world be, once bereft

                 Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,

                 O let them be left, wildness and wet;

                 Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet. 

                                    ~Gerard Manley Hopkins, 'Inversnaid'



Consider growing and maintaining less lawn and growing more Native pollinator plants (which generally require no or low maintenance).  

Why: Most lawn grass has short roots; soil carbon is best built where there is root depth variation. Also, we burn a lot of fossil fuels caring for lawns. For every 11 gallons of gas used in lawn mowing, we add about one hundred and ninety four pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere. Reducing lawn size by growing a variety of native pollinator plants can help your land become a more productive carbon sponge. (Taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it).

We have been conditioned to think manicured lawns are desirable just as we were conditioned to utilize single use plastics. Lawns were introduced, promoted and sold into our culture - we can go back to a more natural landscape! 

We are each a part of the environment. What each of us individually does to pollute the environment adds up. And what each of us does to help rectify the damage to our environment adds up. 

To help in the area of habitat loss, consider purchasing a Vermont Habitat Stamp. The money is used to keep Vermont rivers clean, woods connected, and our meadowlands open. 

Plant a garden using native flowering plants: 

  • Choose a variety of colors and shapes that will attract a variety of pollinators.
  • Choose plants that flower at different times providing nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season. 
  • Plant in clumps rather than single plants to better attract pollinators.

Entomologist Douglas Tallamy, writes, If we use plants that evolved with our local animal communities as the foundation of our landscapes, we may be able to save much of our biodiversity from extinction.  

Wild Strawberry - a good alternative to a grass lawn. Or consider using clover dispersed in your lawn. Clover is a nitrogen fixer - a natural way to fertilize your lawn and is pollinator friendly. 

More info on clover

Photo credit: Annie White lecture / Wild Flower Society.

Wild for Pollinators encourages homeowners, schools and businesses, to preserve permanent wild spaces for pollinator-friendly habitat or to create landscapes and/or container gardens with plants and gardening practices that benefit pollinators.  See the Northeast Pollinator Plants / River Berry Farm website, or USDA Forest Service website for instructions on how to plant a pollinator garden or Kids Gardening website: Planning a Pollinator Garden for Kids.


4. New England Native Plants are available for purchase at: 

  1. *Intervale Conservation Nursery Offering bare-root trees and shrubs, potted plants (trees and shrubs) and perennial plugs. Seeds for most of these plants are harvested and grown locally. Perennials sell for one dollar and fifty cents per plant (small seed starter container) individually or discounted in trays of one hundred. (Note, their web site lists perennials in trays of seventy-two however they will accept orders of any quantity  at the same rate.) Order in late Feb-March. Pick up date for bare-root material is later April-May. Pick up date for perennial starter plans will be late May. Click on link above to find their catalog of offerings and prices.
    See their web site for details.                                                                        
    Perennial Flowers offerings:
    New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (Eighteen to twenty-four inches Tall) 
    Flat top White top aster, Doellingeria umbellate (two - seven feet tall)
    Joe pye weed, Eupatoriou purpureum
    Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum L. (2'-4' tall)
    Black eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta L. (2'-3' tall)
    Perennial Grasses:Canada blue joint, Calamagrostis Canadensis
    Wool grass, Scirpus cyperinus
    Little blue stem, Schizachyrium scoparium
    Upland bentgrass, Agrostis perennansFowl meadow grass, Poa palustrisPoverty oat grass, Danthonia spicate

    They offer many native shrubs and trees that birds and other wildlife love. Including some of my favorites like, Winterberry, Chokeberry(aronia), Chokecherry, American Cranberry, Buttonbush, many dogwood species.
  2. *The Farm Between. Organic fruit farm and plant nursery, cold hardy fruit trees, berry bushes, and native trees and shrubs. Fruit trees and berry bushes are also great pollinator plants. The Farm Between is nestled in the Northern Green Mountains along the Lamoille River in Jeffersonville, Vermont. three-seven-two-seven VT-15, Jeffersonville, VT 
  3. *River Berry Farm (NEPP) at one-ninety-one Goose Pond Road, Fairfax, VT and online Northeast Pollinator Plants  .) Native plants from our region.  The plants are very well labelled, stating if they are native to Vt or New England or elsewhere. Large selection of pollinator native plants. River Berry Farm website has a great matrix of native pollinator plants. Jane Sorenson proprietor.
  4. *Turtle Hill Native Plants Twelve-eighty-three North St. Montpelier , VT (All plants six to fifteen dollars last I checked).
  5. Prairie Moon Nursery (for native wildflower seed) Information about planting and maintenance of wildflower plants
  6. Wild Seed Project (of Maine)
  7. Native Plant Trust, formerly New England Wild Flower Society. Offer trays of (fifty) New England Native Pollinator Plants in well rooted tubes as well as potted plant offerings.
  8. Ernst Seeds Northeast native and naturalized species of plants
  9. Vermont Wildflower Farm We have many strictly native mixes available now. 
    If you wish one specifically for Vermont, we are happy to create a custom one for you any time. You can let us know which species you would like in the mix
    or we can do it for you!
  10. WNRCD Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District Bare-root trees and shrubs can be ordered from Jan through March with one day pickup on a single day in April.
  11. Arbor Day Foundation or Ten free trees with membership
  12. Elmore Roots

More places to buy native plants.
  1. Where to buy native plants in New England. Listing by Wild Seed Project.
  2. Vermont Wetland Plant Supply (Wholesale, though might sell volume retail). Orwell VT.
  3. Marijke's Perennial Gardens Plus Starksboro, VT - "Proud to be National Wildlife Habitat, Bird Friendly Habitat: Advanced Wildlife Habitat, North American Butterfly Association Butterfly Garden, and Pollinator Habitat Certified." 

5. How to Grow native wildflowers and grasses from seed.

Planting area preparation: 

Kill off grass and other plants using newspaper or cardboard covered with mulch or limbs to keep the material from blowing away. Caution: do not use clear or black or other plastic. Plastic covering will harm and destroy the natural biologic life in the soil the microorganisms. Microbes have a lot to do with creating good soil structure, which promotes infiltration and drainage of water, soil aeration, and vigorous root growth and exploration.  ~Soil Microbiology: A Primer (UVM extension service).

Soil microbes play an essential role in decomposing organic matter, cycling nutrients, and fertilising the soil. ~The Living Soil: The Role of Microorganisms in Soil Health

Read more about soil microorganisms at

Wildflower Seed Sowing:

 Heather McCargo Executive Director, Wild Seed Project does not recommend broadcasting their seed, they do not have the bulk quantity of native seed needed for broadcasting (which wastes much of the seed). If you choose that route, she suggests you go to the Prairie Moon website, an old established wild type native nursery in the midwest. But we hand collect and process all of our seed, and it is too precious to waste with broadcasting. 

If you do purchase Wild Seed Project seed, Heather recommends planting in pots is much more successful than than just broadcasting seeds. You will have good germination and all of the seeds will be much more likely to survive.

Regarding shade and deep shade areas: 
Recommended reading: Wild Seed blog called In the Shade - a shady landscape can be beautiful and much less work than a sunny site:

Read more about creating wildflower areas at:

Addresses designing, implementing, and managing wildflower meadows. Including, site analysis, seed mix composition, distributing the seed, and post planting management. 

5b. Seed collecting
Northeast Wild Seed Collectors - coordinated effort to collect local seeds. 


6. What is a hybrid? What is a cultivar? 
    What is a variety?

Photo/slide credit: Annie White lecture / Wild Flower Society.

Cultivars are generally in single quotations after the species name such as Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'. Magnus being a cultivar of the native purple coneflower. Cultivars may satisfy the pollinators, but it is safer to go with the true native plants.

In a University of Vermont study, graduate student Annie White has collected data on the attractiveness of native species to pollinators, compared to cultivar selections of these species (“nativars”).  Of the 13 pairs of plants she compared, seven of the native cultivars attracted significantly fewer bee pollinators than the species. These were  ‘Strawberry Seduction’ yarrow, ‘Corbett’ columbine, ‘Twilite Prairie Blues’ baptisia, three coneflower cultivars (‘Sunrise Big Sky’, ‘Pink Double Delight’, and ‘White Swan’), ‘Moerheim Beauty’ Helen’s flower, ‘Alma Poetschke’ New England aster, and ‘Red Grape’ spiderwort.

If all these lists and research results seem a bit overwhelming, you might start with Annie’s ten top plants.  These are herbaceous perennials that are native to the Northeast, attract a diversity of pollinator species, and perform well and look good in home landscapes.  They are the blue giant hyssop, purple coneflower, trumpet honeysuckle, sundial lupine, Helen’s flower, Culver’s root, foxglove beardtongue, Joe-pye, New England aster, and wild bergamot.

  • Plants are identified by the common name followed by the italicized scientific name in parentheses. Example: River Birch, (Betula nigra).*
  • Plants scientific names: Genus or generic name, followed by the specific epithet or species name. Read more on plants scientific names here.
  • Cultivars (cultivated variety) is a variety that is created by breeding or cloning. They are given special names by their breeders or cloners. Example: River Birch (Betula nigra 'Heritage').*
  • When a mutation is caused by nature vs man, the variety is noted by "var." followed by the variety name. Example: (Sansevieria trifasciata var. Laurentii). 
  • Hybrids are a cross between two species. They are indicated by an "x" in the scientific name. Example: A hybrid of two shrubs, fragrant sage (Salvia clevelandii) and purple sage (Salvia leucophylla). The hybrid name is gray musk sage (Salvia x clevandii 'Pozo Blue').
  • Selective breeding for ornamental benefits often affects the qualities that made the plant beneficial for wildlife.*
  • Cloning can result in loss of the genetic diversity that occurs in the natural world.* 
Sticking to the original native plant species when you can is the best plan if you're working to restore a functioning bit of the ecosystem.*

7. Invasive Plants

BEWARE of plants that the State of Vermont has identified as invasives. See the State of Vermont Invasive web site. We are working to control the following invasives in our yard: Honeysuckle, Gout weed (Bishops weed), (Butterbur Sweet-coltsfoot-on VT watchlist but not yet listed as an invasive),  Canary Grass (Reed Canary Grass) and Knapweed. 

A weed is a plant that is where we do not want it. An alien is a plant from some other place. And invasive species is an alien that spreads as a nuisance or worse. 


8. Attracting Butterflies and Native Bees

Add table salt (preferably sea salt) or wood ashes to a shallow tray containing small pebbles, water, and sand (with about one tablespoon of compost mixed into the sand). Cut pieces of fruit and lay nearby to rot - attracts butterflies. *From National Wildlife Federations "Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and other Backyard Wildlife". (Available from Jericho Center Library).

Gardening for Butterflies and moths:
Two types of plants needed - species that provide nectar for adults, and species that are host plants for butterfly larvae - in order to get new butterflies. (Note for example that butterfly bush (Buddleja) feeds butterflies however no North American species of butterfly can use it as a larval host plant.) A partial list of plants that do both (nectar and larval host) are:
 Milkweeds (Asclepias), 
Butterfly weed (A.tuberosa), 
Common Milkweed (A.syriaca)
 and Swamp Milkweed (A.incarnata), 
Coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia)
 Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis),
 Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium dubium) 
or Hollow Stem Joe-Pye weed (E.fistulosum),
 Tulip trees, Sweetbay Magnolia, Black Cherry trees, 
Flowering Dogwood, (or any native Viburnum species).
  ~From Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy

Gardening for Bees (Vt has 270 species of native bees)
All Regions: Clover, Lambs ear (Stachys), 
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Coneflower (Echinacea), Sunflowers (Helianthus), 
Hyssop (Agastache), 
Sage (Salvia), Hibiscus, 
North East: Willow (salix), 
Serviceberry (Amelanchier), 
Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum), 
Cranberry (Vaccinium),
 Bee balm, Firecrackers (Monarda), 
Lupine (Lupinus), 
Boneset (Eupatorium), 
Milkweed (Asclepias),
 Beardtongue (Penstemon),
 Blazing Star, 
Gayfeather (Liatris), 
Goldenrod (Solidago),
 Fleabane (Erigeron), 
Sunflower (Helianthus), 
Aster (Symphyotrichum and Aster).
 From The Bees in Your Backyard by Joseph Wilson & Olivia M. Carril.

(Eastern Temperate Forests)
From Bumble Bees of North America, by Paul WIlliams, Robbin THorp, Leif RIchardson, & Sheila Colla
* Indicates predominately non-native)

Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)
Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)
Clovers (Trifolium spp.*)
Blazing Stars (Liatris spp.)
Prairie Clovers (Dalea spp.)
Goldenrods (Solidago spp.)
Rosinweeds (Siphium spp.)
Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.)
Plume Thistles (Cirsium spp.*)
Cassias (Cassia spp.)
Salix (willow) (Salix spp.)
Impatiens (jewelweed) (Impatiens spp.)
Crocus (Crocus spp.)
Dicentra (Dicentra spp.)
Kalmia (Kalmia spp.)

Solanum (Solanum spp.)

Gardening for Dragonflies: 
Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), 
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata),
 Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum),
 Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

Pollinator Values (Sampling from Ernst Seeds catalog)

Very high: Asters, Bonesets, Goldenrods, Milkweeds
High: Beardtongue, Bergamont (Bee balm), blackberry, Cardinal flower, Wild black cherry tree, Chokecherry (Special value to native bees), Purple coneflower, Gray dogwood, Ironweed, Joe-pye weed, Spiderwort.
Medium: American Highbush Cranberry, Black-eyed susan, Coreopsis (Tickseed), Pagoda dogwood, red osier dogwood, silky dogwood, Elderberry, Meadowsweet, Nanny-berry, Northern Arrowwood, Sumac, Turtlehead. 

Read about the world's sixth mass extinction: Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature'.
Insects are dying en masse


Photo/Slide credit: Annie White lecture / Wild Flower Society.

Slide credit: Annie White lecture / Wild Flower Society.



  • Bird Sanctuary
  • Pollinator-friendly
  • Improve the soil
  • Increase the ratio of native to non-native plants
  • Grow fruit for ourselves, the birds / wildlife 
  • Combat invasives
  • Minimize lawn care and weeding

We aim to improve the soil, create a diverse native plant habitat for our local pollinators, insects, birds, amphibians, and mammal friends. As well as to grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers for ourselves. 

"The ultimate goal of creating a naturalistic, wildlife-friendly landscape is to restore a small piece of the natural ecosystem."
~From National Wildlife Federations "Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and other Backyard Wildlife".

This is fascinating! Plants can "hear" their pollinators and respond by increasing nectar production! 


11. Bernie's 'Native' gardening tips

"Focusing on the ground beneath our feet is a place-based strategy that every community can engage in without the need for complex technologies that come with hidden costs."
 Fibershed by Rebecca Burgess with Courtney White
 Chelsea Green Publishing. 

  • Grow dense patches of native plants to reduce need of weeding.
  • Consider cutting any weeds (before seeds set in) instead of pulling. Pulling disturbs the soil and provides opportunity for weed seeds to grow.)
  • Native plant labels: Know what plant labels mean by 'Native'.   
    Native to U.S. - ok (better than alien / non-native.)
    Native to N.E. U.S. - better  (for Vermont plantings).
    Native to Vermont - Best (for Vermont plantings)

To find out the native range of a plant, Google the plant name followed by 'native range'. (Ex. Purple Coneflower native range). I often use this site to find native range

11. Importance of Healthy Soil 
More on what you can do to help pollinators, and your home, our Earth.

SOIL is of equal importance to planting Native Pollinator Plants;  Soil is not a dirty word but we treat ‘soil’ like dirty ‘dirt’. “Understanding soils as natural infrastructure-as the foundation for other services-might also change hearts and minds.” Read more of Soils and climate: from hidden depths to center stage @

Restoring degraded soils and ecosystems  - We can do this in our own yards!

Trend lightly on so called 'weeds'. At a minimum avoid pesticides, herbicides, fungicides. Commercial interests have brainwashed us into thinking certain plants are bad or are 'weeds'. Yet plants like plantin, dandelion, clover help improve soil, and are food for pollinators and other creatures. Research papers are numerous and clear in warning of the dangers to nature and to us from using pesticides including those available for purchase by any one of us. 
Grow organically with your lawn, garden, landscape - your home - Earth.

Leave a swath of land unmowed for pollinator habitat. Leave some nearby bare loose, undisturbed soil for ground nesters and nice pithy or hollow stemmed shrubs like elderberry, sumac or raspberries for wood/cavity nesters.

Ensure access to clean shallow water by planting some cup-shaped leave plants or carefully maintaining a shallow birdbath.  

Build affordable housing for local critters: Create a brush pile

Ask your Senators to support the Save America's Pollinators Act
Introduced by Representative John Conyers, H.R. 3040 the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, would suspend the use of neonicotinoid insecticides until the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that they will not have significant adverse effects on bees. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture. 

13. Resource Links to help you with native plant ID, care...

Native Plant Databases: RESOURCES to find information about a specific plant or all native plants in your area.
  1. Go Botany  Can also help ID a plant that you do not know the name of. (From New England Plant Trust formerly New England Wild Flower Society)
  2. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
  3. Audubon Native Plant Database (Lists bird friendly native plants via your zip code)
  4. Regional Plant listing (NH/Maine/Vermont)
  5. Missouri Botanical Garden
  6. The Farm Between blog
  7. Farming on the Wild Side: The Evolution of a Regenerative Organic Farm and Nursery. By John and Nancy Hayden of the Farm Between in Jeffersonville, VT.
  8. National Wildlife Federation                                                    By zip code, listing no. of butterfly and moth species supported

RESOURCES for more Native Pollinator Plant information 
  1. Pollinator Gardens: 8 Easy steps to design a landscape with native plants. 
  2. In the Shade: Gardening with Woodland Plants from the Native Understory
  3. Over 1 Million gardners came together to save pollinators - you can too!
  4. Northeast Pollinator Plants/River Berry Farm has a listing of resources. 
  5. ***Five ways to encourage pollinators. 
  6. Simple tips for creating a Pollinator-friendly landscape.
  7. ***Bees and their habitats in four New England states.  Univ. of Maine.
  8. Hellstrip Plantings: Creating habitat between in the space between the sidewalk and the curb. 
  9. Habitat Network (Pollinator Garden Plants and Practices and other articles as well as option to join the habitat network and map your yard of plants). 
  10. Why Native Plants Matter - Audubon
  11. Backyard Bird declines linked to non native plants. 
  12. The Sixth Great Extinction and our Backyards....
  13. Pollinator Partnerships
  14. EcoBeneficial
  15. Status of Pollinators in North America. National Academy of Sciences
  16. USDA Natural Resources of Conservation Society
  17. Native Plants and WildLife Gardening. 
  18. Vermont Invasive Listing
  19. Ecologist suggest it is time to rethink the modern lawn. 
  20. Rutland Herald article about threats to bees.              
  21. Status and trends of wild insect pollinators in Vermont and beyond.
  22. iNaturalist: Bumble Bees of Vermont.
  23. Bees, Ants, Wasps, and similar insects of Vermont(Photos and ID) 
  24. Selecting plants for Pollinators  Pollinator Partnership 
  26. Wild for Pollinators - A collaboration of KidsGardening org, the Vermont Community Garden Network, and the Intervale Center to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and to promote the creation of more pollinator and beneficial insect habitat across Vermont and nationally. 
  27. River Berry Farm (Fairfax VT). See their extensive resource links.
  28. Book Review: Native Plants for New England Gardens 
  30. Gaye Symington: Celebrating Ceres, the myth or the reality. Vt Digger commentary.  
    Excerpts: Celebrating Ceres should remind us the only way Vermont can make headway to reduce soil and nutrient runoff from farms is for everyone to own the problem and make investments that help repair what’s not working. Celebrating Ceres is a chance to celebrate our shared commitment to community – the responsibility we each have to listen carefully to each other, to assume good faith, to understand the conditions and circumstances of our changing world, and to give preference to working together to solve problems over judging or accusing. In that way, the celebration of the goddess of agriculture can help us focus on the real and important part agriculture plays in the green hills and silver waters that belong to all of us.
  31. Give your yard a Climate Change Makeover - Audubon Society
  32. Check out BAND OF THE LAND singing Wildflower.
  33. The rapid decline of the Natural World is a crisis even bigger than climate change. 
  34. More edible and landscape-worthy plants of New England
  35. Native hedges and hedgerows: beauty and biodiversity
  36. Soil 4 Climate website
  37. Doug Tallamy recmds cutting lawn in half. 


14. List of New England Native plants

with wildlife value

and desirable landscaping attributes.
*Note the number of insect species each plant supports.

Common name/Family/Genus/       *No. of Species supported
White Oak: Fagaceae, quercus 534
Willow: Salicaceae, salix - 456
Cherry, Plum: Rosaceae, prunus 456
Birch: Betulaceae, betula 413` 
(150 species in the Birch family, including Hazelnut)
Cottonwood: Salicaceae, populus 368
Crapapple: Rosaceae, malus 311
Blueberry/Cranberry: Ericaceae, vaccinium 288
Maple, Box Elder: Aceraceae, acer 285
Elm: Ulmaceae, ulmus 213
Pine: Pinaceae, pinus 203
Hickory: Juglandaceae, carya 200
Hawthorn: Rosaceae, crataegus 159
Alder: Betulaceae, alnus 156
Spruce: Pinaceae, Picea 156
Ash: Oleaceae, fraxinus 150
Basswood, Linden: Tiliaceae, tilia 150
Filbert, hazelnut: Betulaceae, corylus 131
Walnut, butternut: Juglandaceae juglans
Beech: Fagaceae Fagus 126
Chestnut: Fagaceae castanea 125
From Bringing Nature Home, - How you can sustain wildlife with Native Plants. By Douglas W. Tallamy.

15. New England planting recommendations from 
New England Wild Flower Society)

Herbaceous perennials, moist and wet sites

Red Baneberry
Actaea rubra
Wood Anemone
Anemone quinquefolia
Arisaema triphyllum
Swamp Milkweed
New England Aster
Aster novae-andliae
Water Arum
Calla palustris
Devil's Bit
Chamaelirium luteum
Chelone glabra
Black Cohosh
Cimicifuga racemosa
Blue Bead Lily
Clintonia borealis
Pink Coreopsis
Coreopsis rosea
Squirrel Corn
Dicentra canadensis
Dutchman's Breeches
Dicentra cucullaria
Yellow Trout Lily
Erythronium americanum
Spotted Joe=Pye Weed
Eupatorium maculatum
Eupatorium perfoliatum
Closed Gentin
Gentiana clausa
Helen's Flower, Sneezeweed
Helenium autumnale
Round-lobed Hepatica
Hepatica americana
Rose Mallow
Hibiscus moscheutos
Slender Blue Flag
Iris prismatica
Blue Flag Iris
Iris versicolor
Canada Lily
Lilium canadense
Turk's Cap Lily
Lilium superbum
Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis
Blue Lupine also called Sundial Lupine
Lupinus perennis
Monarda didyma
Wild Bergamot
Monarda fistulosa
Foxglove, Beardtongue
Penstemon digitalis
Hairy Beardtongue
Penstemon hirsutus
Wild Blue Phlox
Phlox divaricata
Wild Sweet William
Phlox maculata
False Dragonhead
Physostegia virginiana
Solomon's Seal
Polygonatum commutatum
American Burnet
Sanguisorba canadnesis
False Solomon's Seal
Smilacina racemosa
Wood Sage
Teucrium canadense
Virgina Spiderwort
Tradescantia virginiana
Culver's Root
Veronicastrum virginicum
Marsh Blue Violet
Viola cucullata
Yellow Violet
Viola pubescens
Golden Alexanders
Zizia aurea
Herbaceous perennials, dry sites

Canada Anemone
Anemond cadadensis
Wild Columbine
Aquilegia canadensis
Common Milkweed
Asclepias syriaca
Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa
White Wood Aster
Aster divaricatus
White Heath Aster
Aster ericoides
New York Aster
Aster novi-belgii
Blue Cohosh
Caulophyllum thalictroides
Spotted Wintergreen
Chimaphila maculata
Lesser Yellow Lady's Slipper
Cypripedium parviflorum
White Snakeroot
Wild Geranium
Geranium maculatum
Hedyotis caerulea
Heliopsis helianthoides
Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
Hepatica acutiloba
Hydrastis canadensis
Wood Lily
Lilium philadelphicum
Great Blue Lobelia
Lobbelia siphilitica
Panas quinquefolius
Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta
Cutleaf Coneflower
Rudbeckia laciniata
Sanguinaria canadensis
Blue-eyed Grass
Sisyrinchium angustifolium
Blue-stem Goldenrod
Solidago caesia
Rough-stem Goldenrod
Soldago rugosa
Eastern Foamflower
Tiarella cordifolia
Tradescantia ohiensis
Purple Trillium
Trillium erectum
White Trillium
Trillium grandiflorum
Large-flowered Bellwort
Uvularia grandiflora
Hookspur Violet
Viola adunca
Birdsfoot Violet
Viola pedata


Balsam Fir
Abies balsamea
Atlantic White Cedar
Chamaecyparis thyoides
Red Cedar
Juniperus virginiana
Larix laricina
White Spruce
Picea glauca
Jack Pine
Pinus banksiana
Red Pine
Pinus resinosa
Pitch Pine
Pinus rigida
White Pine
Pinus strobus
Canada Yew
Taxus canadensis
Arborvitae, Northern White Cedar
Thuja occidentalis

American Bittersweet
Celastrus scandens
Limber Honeysuckle
Lonicera dioica
Menispermum canadense
Virginia Creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Parthenocissus vitacea
Summer Grape
Vitis aestivalis
Fox Grape
Vitis labrusca
Riverbank Grape
Vitis riparia

Streamside plants


Gray Alder
Alnus incana

Mountain Alder
Alnus viridis

Bog Birch
Betula pumila

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Chamaedaphne calyculata

Sweet Pepper Bush
Clethra alnifolia

Silky Dogwood
Cornus amomum

Direa palustris

Swamp Doghobble
Eubotrys racemosa

Ilex verticillata

Peachleaf Willow
Salix amygdaloides

Hoary Willow
Salix candida

Pussy Willow
Salix discolor

Sandbar Willow
Salix interior

Black Willow
Salix nigra

Ground covers

Wild Ginger
Asarum cndadense
Cornus canadensis
Trailing Arbutus
Epigaea repens
Teaberry, Wintergreen
Gaultheria procumbens
Box Huckleberry
Gaylussacia brachycera
Horizontal Juniper
Juniperus horizontalis
Mitchella repens
Moss Pink
Phlox subulata
Podophyllum peltatum
Shrubby Fivefingers
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata
Mountain Cranberry
Vaccinium vitis-idaea

arren Strawberry
Waldsteinia fragarioides


The Insect Apocalypse is Here (NYTimes article)
“What we’re losing is not just the diversity part of biodiversity, but the bio part: life in sheer quantity.”

Audubon Society. Assessed 19 Nov. 2018.

Heinrich, Bernd. 2018. A Naturalist At Large - The Best Essays of Bernd Heinrich. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Northeast Pollinator Plants / River Berry Farm. Assessed 19 Nov. 2018.

Tallamy, W. Douglas. 2007. Bringing Nature Home - How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. Timber Press, 2017.

The Living Landscape (Timber Press 2014)
By Rick Darke, and Doug Tallamy

The Farm Between. Assessed 19 Nov. 2018.

Wild for Pollinators. Assessed 19 Nov. 2018

We Interview the Godfather of Biodiversity.  Bird Life International. Thomas Lovejoy, who coined the phrase "biodiversity", and the urgent need for humanity to start seeing itself as part of nature.

Soils and Climate: From Hidden Depths to Center Stage?

Study Documents Historic Decline in Vermont Bumblebee Population. VT EcoStudies and Gund Institute.

5 weeds you need in your garden

Pesticides are harming bees in every possible way. 

Delawning America

Song: Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell

17. Food for Thought Quotes

Perhaps thinking of only ourselves is a behavior we may want to re-examine. Our capitalist society promotes it; our survival may depend on a more social communal view as well as a better understanding and appreciation for our link to nature.

                        In wildness
                 is the preservation
                     of the world.


Advice from Ed Abbey: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast, a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. Ed Abbey, early environmentalist.
18. Climate Change - Global Warming Articles

Climate Trauma: Toward a new taxonomy of trauma. 
Excerpts: We should never underestimate the power of individual awareness to promote healing, freeing up latent energies, or the power of shared awareness to transform social structures,

"""At every turn, the smallness contrasts with the vastness of climate-change projects – the mammoth turbines, the horizon-reaching solar farms, the globe encircling clouds of reflective particle that geoengineers envision. The difference In scale creates a difference In the kind of meaning that actions have for people performing them. The meaning of climate-related actions, because they produce no discernible result, is necessarily eschatological; they refer to a Judgment Day we’re hoping to postpone. The mode of meaning in conservation in the Amazon [or Jericho] is Franciscan:  you’re helping something you love, something right in front of you, and you can see the results." The End of the End of the Earth essays by Jonathan Franzen. 


What’s the Price of Ignoring Climate Change?

Two climate science writers respond to questions about the economic impacts of rising temperatures.
By Naomi Oreskes and 

Excerpt - 
Stern: One central example would be the restoration of degraded land. That would store carbon in the soil, improve the productivity of land, and make agriculture more robust to difficult weather. It’s mitigation, development and adaptation all together. You may want to look at the recent publication “Growing Better” from the Food and Land Use Coalition, which provides a very interesting analysis and many examples.

The Growing Better (PDF) article is packed full of information regarding land for food in a warming world! Bernie

Emailed comments:

  • Thanks for doing this - I think it's a great resource!  I do think it would also be good to find links to sources that cost less than the $100+ the gardening website charges for plants. ~Leslie N. 

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