A Pollinator Garden (courtesy of some grubs)

P : It was four years ago that Japanese beetles destroyed the turf under the cottage kitchen windows. Do you remember Lynn? I bet you do! A government of Canada website says, “The first Japanese beetle found in Canada was in a tourist’s car at Yarmouth, arriving in Nova Scotia by ferry from Maine in 1939.” Thanks, guys.

L:  I remember it well. It was the second infestation. I ordered beneficial nematodes (again!) and you and I, equipped with watering cans, worked over the main house and the cottage. Dead turf everywhere. Bloody tourists!

The soft pastels of swamp milkweed, echinacea, bottlebrush or Hameln fountain grass (tbd) grasses in our pollinator garden.

P: After the beetles had done their work there was a bowl of mud where once there had been lush grass (okay, it wasn’t that lush). What to do?  It seemed pretty obvious. Reseed, or buy some sod. Put it back the way it was.

“No,” you said. “Don’t be so dull. I have a better idea. Seize the opportunity. What we should have is a pollinator garden. It’ll be a beautiful thing, and wonderful for butterflies, bees, hummingbirds…” You got to work.

Allium spharecapholon and echinacea with some happy visitors. That’s some kind of fritillary on the echinacea but I can’t tell which one…

L: Actually, I had only been working for you for two years at that point. My impertinence only kicked in a couple of years ago! But ya, I distinctly remember the garden being your idea, the pollinator focus mine. You got right on board, especially with the design: The meandering pea gravel path and the idea that the garden should privilege the view for those sitting in the kitchen and looking out the window.

A room with a view: The garden from the kitchen window.

P: Some things we moved from other parts of the garden – bergamot, echinacea, joe pye weed, anemone, veronicastrum, salvia, monkshood (leaving a lot behind, of course).  We bought some new things – swamp milkweed (native to Nova Scotia and sourced from The Tobeatic, a nearby wilderness reserve), dwarf zebra grass, Karl Foerster feather reed grass, bottlebrush, alliums, Russian sage. Our neighbour Molly gave us some irises. You  brought foxgloves from your house. And poppies popped.

Bees go bonkers for the Veronicastrum and of course, a popping purple poppy…

L: That’s right. The idea was to have the existing gardens “feed” the new addition. The gardens needed thinning in places so this served us on two fronts.

Female monarch butterflies very busy on the milkweed. We should be seeing some caterpillars very soon!

P:  Everything is artfully placed. No colours jar. No textures clash. Big plants are at the back, smaller ones at the front. Nothing is allowed to overwhelm anything else. Sorrowful thinning out is sometimes necessary. Who knew that the anemone would grow like that?

Anemone, good value, going bonkers and beautifully weirdly alien before they pop. Fritillary on the echinacea amidst some maiden grass in need of thinning. The anemones are getting thinned for certain this year. Three plants have spawned a forest.

L: Well, we did move the rudbeckia out this year. The first year our resident rabbits waited until they were about to “pop” and then ate the heads off of those suzies so I couldn’t gauge how’d they fit in with the rest of the plantings. I found them very overwhelming so they’ve been moved to that back meadow where, no doubt, the rabbits are making a meal of them. 

Out with old, in with new: Blue drumstick allium with eryngium, salvia, poppies and some bottle brush grasses and aconite soon!

In lieu, we’ve planted lots of blue drumstick allium, russian sage and sea holly and some of that bottle brush grass. And Monkshood, too. I like it better already and it’s only the first year. 

Bees go bonkers for allium sphaerocephalon. My hare in Beach Meadows ate the stocks and left the flowers – nineteen in all- laying in the garden like wayward eyeballs. They have better luck planted in amongst other high flowers and grasses it would seem.

They don’t seem to mind the bergamot, either…

P: The pollinator garden has become a magical place. Look at your pictures! If you build it, they will come. The garden has become a field of dreams.

I think this gal spotted me. Hummingbird in the bergamot.

L: Thanks, Philip!  It’s a late blooming garden by comparison but perhaps that’s a personal metaphor. Still, I can’t believe how successful it is as a pollinator paradise and how fecund it is. Birds in the grasses, butterflies and hummingbirds and bees. It is particularly alive now and a whole lot of fun to hang out in. With luck, we’ll be able to watch some monarchs metamorphose again this year. 

More hummingbirds because who doesn’t like hummingbirds?

Birds, bees, butterflies, all you insects and all you, people, too: Welcome to our pollinator garden!

9 thoughts on “A Pollinator Garden (courtesy of some grubs)”

      1. ooops…”thoughtful” garden. …all is well here…enjoying the sunshine, our gardens and the current covid calm

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