Bee pollinating a blackberry flower down at the Garland Community Garden - April 12, 2016
It's amazing the degree to which a little education can shift one's perspective. Two years ago my attitude was: "If it's not edible, it's not worth growing." Today I advocate for planting as much as 25% of a gardening space or yard with native flowers and plants that will attract native pollinators.
TO NAME A FEW TEXAS NATIVE FLOWERS: (Echinacea augustifolia - purple coneflower; Texas Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala); Coreopsis; Indian Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandflora); Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida); Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucida) which is sometimes called "Mexican tarragon". Its leaves and flowers are a combination of anise and tarragon flavors and may be used to flavor chicken and fish dishes. Texas Lantana; Salvia Victoria Blue (Salvia farinacea); Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa columbaria),
Pollinators are as important to the health and production of your garden as water, minerals or natural fertilizer such as compost.
- There are more than 20,000 species of wild bees that contribute to pollination--4,000 of which we have in North America.
- 75% of the world's food crops depend on pollinators
- The annual value of global crops affected by pollinators is estimated at between $250 billion to $577 billion
- 16.5% of vertebrate pollinators are threatened globally
- +40% of invertebrate pollinator species such as bees and butterflies are facing extinction
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The decline in pollinators is due primarily to changes in land use; intensive agricultural practices; pesticide use; introduction of alien invasive species; resulting diseases and pests; and climate change.
One of the most dramatic changes in land use over the past 100 years has been a shift from agricultural to urban use. Along with urbanization we have suburban sprawl a style that lends itself to a homogenized landscape with expansive lawns, a token (often non-native tree), and a few shrubs nestled against the foundation of the home. Despite its greenness (most often achieved with the over-use of herbicides and pesticides), this is in effect a barren landscape that is starving out our native pollinators.
START SMALL IF YOU LIKE
You don't have to plow up your front lawn and plant a garden featuring native plants. You and your family will help bring back our native pollinators by simply digging up one of your smaller shrubs and replacing it with a native perennial flowering shrub such as the Texas Rock Rose, or Turks Cap, or one of our native perennial salvias. If you have children you can observe the plant together when it is blooming, taking photos and identifying all the native pollinators the native plant attracts.