A little more room for pollinator plants


April 16, 2020

Taking out the stock-tank pond opened up a partly sunny spot in my shady garden. You can bet I wasn’t going to let that go to waste! Inside a new circle of diminutive ‘Micron’ hollies, which echo the form of ‘Winter Gem’ boxwoods at the entryways, I planted pollinator-friendly flowering perennials and annuals.

Two months after planting, tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis) has shot up to 5 feet and towers over native Gulf Coast penstemon (Penstemon tenuis).

The pretty lavender flowers entice bees and butterflies.

I love the new flowers and am delighted to have a pollinator pit stop. In photos, unfortunately, the tall verbena looks weedy as it soars over a central potted Agave ovatifolia. In person I find it romantic. Walking past those giraffe-like verbena, I stretch out my hand to make the airy stems bob and wave, like Ruth Wilcox strolling her garden at Howards End. (Imagining myself in a long, white dress trailing across dewy grass…)

On Sunday my first iris opened, the one I call Shoshana’s iris. I haven’t been able to get an iris to bloom in this garden in years. It’s just too shady. But when I moved a few straggly plants over to the new Circle Garden, they immediately started growing, and now this!

I’m pretty happy about it.

Shoshana looks especially lovely next to Gulf Coast penstemon.

There’s columbine too.

Along the chimney wall of the house, I’ve planted Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Desert Dusk’, a new cultivar of our native red yucca, with wine-red instead of coral flowers. It’s also a little more compact than the standard hesperaloe. And bees love it.

I watched this busy bee adding to her pollen sacs…

…fertilizing the flowers as she goes. Keep up the good work, bees!

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