SPRING’S SPLENDID SCENERY
With spring’s arrival, the outdoors are calling. Sunny, blue skies beckon and set the scene for vivid, colorful flowers. Shrubs and trees are busy beautifully burgeoning, budding and blooming to grandly announce that spring is in the air. Go for a stroll or a drive, and you can’t miss out on nature’s simply splendid scenery.
BEAUTIFUL BUDDING BLOOMERS
Southern gardens boast such beautiful bloomers as dogwoods, forsythia, magnolias, hydrangeas, crepe myrtles, and camellias. Pretty in pink, frothy billows of early blooming cherry blossoms appear, and dogwoods follow as graceful pink and white clusters of clouds. And we can’t forget that other harbinger of spring – the redbud – which is often intertwined with sweetly fragranced purple wisteria. When these budding beauties are covered with blossoms in early spring, their honeyed nectar attracts the sweet tooth of butterflies and bees. As more people become aware of the dwindling bee and butterfly populations, a fresh surge of interest in “pollinator gardens” has arisen, and the redbud, crabapple, and cherry are appreciated for their role in sustaining these populations.
Like hummingbirds, butterflies are on a constant search for nectar to stay nourished and sustained. Butterflies are attracted to colors, especially flowers that are orange, pink, red, yellow and purple, and they seem to be especially drawn to masses of flowers grouped together in similar shades.
Butterflies love to sunbathe on stones and reflective objects in your yard that are flat enough for landing and soaking up the sun. Warmth from the sun’s rays permeates through their wings and transfers to the rest of their body.
Busy buzzing are the bees, who are prime pollinators. What would life be like without honey? But bees are responsible for producing many other foods we enjoy, too, like coffee, cocoa, blueberries, avocados, and apples. In 2017, the Center for Biological Diversity reported that nearly half of the bee population is in critical decline and that 25% of the bee populations could become extinct. The list of foods we could lose if the bee population continues this decline is disturbing. Given this fact, what could be better than encouraging bees to visit our own spring gardens?
Planting native plants can help attract bees to your garden. Some possible bee magnets include bee balm, goldenrod, purple coneflower, cosmos, lobelia and everyone’s favorite, lavender. It seems that bees are most drawn to violet and to flowers with cool hues since they provide the most nectar.
WELCOME POLLINATORS TO YOUR SPRING GARDEN
Watch out for pesticides that can kill our helpful pollinators. Reduce and even opt out of pesticide use, switching instead to natural, non-toxic alternatives. Try encouraging beneficial insects for pest control. Before reaching for an insecticide, relax and even welcome some plant damage as larvae munch through leaves before turning into dazzling butterflies. Set aside some parts of your backyard as a safe haven for pollinators. Include nesting habitat, water resources and whenever possible, native plants to provide plenty of nectar and pollen. Native plants help provide food and shelter for wildlife and pollinators. They don’t need much if any, fertilizer, and they often need less water to thrive than nonnative plants.
POLLINATOR GARDEN CHALLENGE
North Carolina is home to 13 known species of bumblebees and 174 species of butterflies. You can show your passion, dedication, and commitment to these pollinators by getting your garden certified as a Pollinator Friendly Garden. The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge is a “partnership between conservation organizations, gardening groups, volunteer civic associations and participating federal agencies to inspire people and organizations to create more pollinator habitats.” Simply click millionpollinatorgardens.org/ to learn more about their goal of increasing the number of pollinator-friendly gardens and landscapes in your own back yard.
Be sure to take a springtime stroll through the magnificent Reynolda Gardens at Reynolda Village in Winston-Salem, head to your local parks in Forsyth County, drive around the state and picnic and hike through the mountains to make the most of this glorious spring in North Carolina!