Planhigion Gardens

Garden Ideas

Mother Nature Needs You!

Will you Help?

Jackie Johnson ND

Planhigion Herbal Learning Center earth is in trouble; which makes us in trouble since we are completely dependent on her.

 Ahhh, which one of the many areas might this cover?  Well, this one is very near and dear to each of us since our food is at stake.

Have you noticed there are less bees buzzing around?  Have you seen a decrease in Monarch butterflies?  Or hummingbirds, or moths? 

Bees are required to pollinate over 70% of the world’s plants to enable them to produce seed.

Our expanding habitat is decreasing theirs. According to “Turfgrass Revolution” (Robins and Birkenholtz), the U.S. converts about 5,000 acres a day are to lawns.  95% of our country has been logged, tilled, drained, grazed, paved or otherwise developed!

Those lawns cover more than 41 million acres; and require about 200 gallons of fresh water per day. 

More than 30,000 tons of pesticides are used on them every year.  Of those pesticides 24 are toxic to fish, 11 are toxic to bees and 16 are toxic to birds, not to mention what is toxic to us!

As we grow our habitats, the pollinators of our world see theirs shrinking. Superhighways, mega farms and golf courses, shopping centers, sub-divisions many using lots of pesticides all contribute.  But so is the noise that go along with them.  In their native habitats, our pollinators communicate with sound with each other; our loud noises hinder that communication.

Pollinators consist of:

Honey bees – of European descent and brought to North America in the 1600’s with the early colonists for pollinating their crops and the resulting honey.

Native Bees:  There are more than 4,000 different species.  These include the common to us Mason Bees and Bumblebees. These pollinators are generally solitary bees that live in the ground or in holes.  You can find nesting boxes for them, or make your own with a hunk of wood and a drill.

Moths:  I like the explanation given about moth pollination: when the sun goes down and the bees go to bed, the moths come out and take over the pollinating chore.  So between all of the pollinators, they’re at it 24-7!  Have you noticed the absence of Monarchs in the last few years?  I have.  I cut around the milkweed in my yard and gardens and wild areas hoping to entice them, but their numbers are definitely dwindling.  Other common ones to look for are the lovely swallowtails and painted ladies. 

 Flies:  No not the common housefly – continue to swat them down!  These guys look like little bees but they’re classified as flies and midges and they do pollinate.

Birds:  According to CBCNews (May 2016), a billion birds have disappeared from North America since 1970 and a third of the bird species are threatened with extinction.  We’ve noticed our hummingbird population declining in the past three years.  Granted, birds are not our top pollinators of food crops, but they do their share keeping keeping pests away away from our plants.

Bats:  Ok, I don’t care for them either, but they do help pollinate a lot of fruits.  They also keep insects and bugs away from crops, so they do their share as well.

We have left the pollinators with a declining and fragmented ecosystem that is insufficient for their well-being, health, breeding and continued pollination.


So what can you do?

Have you heard of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge? ( ? 

It’s a “campaign to register a million public and private gardens and landscapes to support pollinators all over the country”.  Look at their map on the above website and see if’s a place near you.

This challenge is being launched by the National Pollinator Garden Network which is comprised of national, regional, conservation and gardening groups throughout the country to support the strategy “Promote the Health of the Honey Bees and Other Pollinators”.

To accomplish this, we need to increase the number of nectar and pollen sources for them.  This will help increase their numbers.  It is in our own best interest to do so – remember these pollinators are responsible for one out of three bites of the food we eat!

How can you help?

By planting a pollinator garden!  It doesn’t have to be an acre, it can be a window or patio planter, some additions to a home garden, or alongside a road.  Of course a prairie garden would be nice, but most of us can’t do that. 

But if we all do alittle….  Especially if you can rally your neighbors too plant things in their yard which will enlarge the habitat of the pollinators in your area.

Check out the website for more information.

Once you have your garden, take a picture and post it on the S.H.A.R.E. map on the website.  Anyone and ANY SIZE garden can join their campaign to help reach the million gardens!

If a garden isn’t feasible there are other ways you can help:  Support pollinator friendly businesses (nurseries, garden center and seed suppliers who offer these types of plants).

You can also spread the word about what is going on.  They allow you to use their logo on your website.

You can do this by yourself, with your garden or business group, or help a school make a garden and get the kids involved!

For most of us – we can still get a start on a small garden this year, or a portion of an existing garden, even if you can only plant a few boxes with sustainable nectar/pollen rich plants.

Native plants are a good choice.  Avoid hybrids.  As an herbalist, I shake my head when I see what the breeders have done to our original plants.  Echinacea is one of the worst.  Have you seen the Echinacea with that poufy extra flower on the top?  Another point, it’s called Purple Coneflower, not Blue Coneflower.  Get my gist? 



 This is a list the Director of Horticulture, Mark Konlock, of the Green Bay Botanical Garden prepared and I’ve added to:

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuborosa)

Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, or E. pallida)

Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya or L. spicata)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa or didyma) 

Stonecrop (Sedum)

Goldenrod (The Solidagos)

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemium muticum)

Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

Globe Thistle (Echinops bannaticus)

False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)

Foxglove (Digitalis)

Lupines (lupinum perennis)

St. Johnswort (Hypericum perfatorum)

Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp)

American Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginianus)

If you’re planting trees, consider the Red Maple, Staghorn Sumac, Hawthorne, Mountain Ash, Willows, Wild Cherry, or Linden.

The above are perennials (in most areas).


Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Lantana (Lantana camara)

Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana spp.)

French Marigold (Tagetes patula)

Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

 Zinnia (Zinnia spp.)

Some other herbs to put in are thyme, lemon balm, lavender and chives.  Chives are good for the early spring pollinators looking for some pollen!

This is a very short list.  If you google pollinator plants, you’ll find hundreds more!


In addition to using nectar and pollen source plants, provide a water source but include stones, etc. to keep them from drowning!

Place your garden in a sunny area with wind breaks.

Plant large groupings of the same plant – called “pollinator targets”.  They’re easier to spot and easier to go from plant to plant in a small area.

Keep your plants throughout the growing season to help the pollinators at each stage of their lives (i.e. the Monarch in both butterfly and larvae stage on the milkweed).   For a list of plants go to:

Make sure you have some early bloomers to help with spring feed needs as well as some late bloomers for late fall needs.

Eliminate pesticides.

Add single blooming together with long blooming flowers.

Have you ever been fascinated with the hedgerows in the U.K.?  This might be a project to start this year – a pollinator hedgerow!

Here’s my personal favorite:  Pollinators like UNKEMPT GARDENS!  Delay the fall cleanup until spring!


Here’s a basic color guide for pollinators (this is only a guide):

Honey Bees prefer white, yellow and blue flowers.

Moths prefer night blooming gray or white or silver fragrant flowers.  (The type found in a “moon garden”.)

Butterflies prefer red, orange, yellow, purple flowers.

Flies prefer striped flowers and less showy flowers.  (This makes them less likely to be seen by their predators.)


With the good come the not-so-good.  The next list is some to avoid if possible:

Rhododendron – nectar is toxic too bees.  The honey produced unsafe for humans.          (Alternate – Clematis)

Azaleas – toxic to bees.   (Alternate – Foxgloves – the honey is ok)

Trumpet Flower or Angels Trumpet – nectar can cause blood death in bees.

Stargazer Lily – pollen is poison to bees.  (Alternate – Hollyhocks)

The list goes on depending on your location.  Before purchasing a new plant, check if it is toxic.

I hope this gives you a start - at least thinking about adding some pollinator plants to your yard or garden.  If you do, join the Million Pollinator Gardens Challenge and register your garden.  Be sure to check  out the public gardens listed on the website.  They could give you some great ideas to use in your garden!





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