Gardening for Pollinators on Staten Island

Today’s photos are from Virginia Sherry, who is the founder of the Native Plant Society of Staten Island.

I am writing from Staten Island, New York, to share photos of my summer garden, which I have developed over the past 10 years to support pollinators. Many of the species are blooming; others will flower soon.

Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum, Zones 4–8). This perennial is native to the Upper Midwest and Great Plains. The spikes of many small flowers are very attractive to pollinators and bloom over a very long season, particularly if kept deadheaded.

bright yellow flowersSundrops (Oenothera fruticosa, Zones 3–9) are native to much of eastern North America. Durable and easy to grow, they bloom over a long period in early summer.

Common milkweed with a beeCommon milkweed (Asclepias syriaca, Zones 3–9) is native to much of eastern North America and is famous as a main host for monarch butterfly caterpillars, but the showy, fragrant clusters of flowers attract a wide range of pollinators, including this little honeybee.

Swamp milkweed before bloomingDespite being native to mostly wetlands in its native range over much of North America, swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata, Zones 3–6) thrives in regular garden soil. Unlike common milkweed, which spreads rapidly and can take over huge areas of a garden, this species stays more compact and may be a better choice for small gardens.

Stonecrop Autumn Joy before bloomNative to Eastern Europe and Asia, stonecrop (here, Hylotelephium ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–9) is much loved by pollinators when grown in North American gardens too.

bright red and yellow flowerBlanket flower (Gaillardia, Zones 5–9) is a short-lived perennial that blooms its heart out. Native mostly to the western and northern parts of North America, is thrives in dry, well-drained sites.

plant with light purple flowersSoapwort (Saponaria officinalis, Zones 3–8) is a European species that was introduced to North America in colonial times and is common now along roadsides and other disturbed areas. The name “soapwort” comes from the traditional use of the sap from stems and roots to make soap.


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