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Gardening for Pollinators and Wildlife – Feb. 3, 2023

Table of Contents

Shannon’s Note

The daffodils that are scattered around our property are close to blooming, but aren’t quite there yet.

Punxsutawney Phil may be predicting 6 more weeks of winter, but that doesn’t mean Mother Nature is listening. All the winter annuals and many of the cool season grasses in our yard are bright green. I’ve also already seen my first dandelion flower and winter cress flowers of the year in our yard. Our daffodils are getting close to blooming, but aren’t quite there yet; however, I know other people in my general area who have blooming daffodils. Spring is definitely on its way, although that doesn’t mean Mother Nature won’t throw us a curve ball or two before now and then. I’ve lived in Kentucky long enough to expect it.

For many of us, myself included, dreaming of spring also means dreaming of new plants to add to our gardens. And, of course, part of that dreaming includes pouring over catalogues and websites to look for those plants or seeds. It is becoming increasingly common for companies and big box stores to offer “wildflower” seeds or plants, and I know many people who have bought those seed mixes thinking that they were buying native plants. However, that’s usually not the case. One of the resources I list below is a blog article that I wrote recently which talks about the difference between wildflowers and native plants. Feel free to pass it along if you know someone who might find it helpful.

In the “Tasks” part of this newsletter, you’ll also find the usual statement about killing invasive species. However, I wanted to point out that in my opinion February and early to mid-March is the best time to kill poison hemlock in our area. The “Resources” section has links to a blog and two videos talking about how to identify and control poison hemlock.

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Nursery Update

Some of our hardier overwintered native plants, like this grey-headed coneflower, are already forming small basal rosettes of foliage.

February is when things really start to ramp up in the nursery. We have all the cold weather treatments going on the seeds that need a winter treatment in order to germinate. It also won’t be too much longer before we start planting.

Outside, some of the hardier plants that we overwintered are already starting to put out small basal rosettes of vegetation. They won’t really get going or grow very big for another month or two – there’s still too much of a chance for winter craziness. But, they are taking advantage of the warm days and sun when they can get it and I know those roots are growing and getting stronger.

The buds are also starting to swell on some of our overwintered shrubs. In fact, if things continue to go like they are, then we may have some shrub available for the March deliveries.

Speaking of shrubs, Anthony is doing a whole series of videos on trees and shrubs that are good for pollinators and wildlife and that work well in the home landscape as well as larger plantings. We won’t have all of these species available for sale, but we want to serve you the best we can. And sometimes the best way we can serve you is by sharing information about species that may work well for your landscape and pollinator and wildlife goals even if we don’t have those species for sale.

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Upcoming Deliveries

Winter deliveries will continue once a month until April. Next weekend (Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11) will be the next delivery. Honey, books, and gift cards for native plants and consulting services are all available.

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Available Items:

Books, Gift Certificates, and Honey

Attracting Pollinators and Wildlife to Your Yard: 15 Free and Easy Ways ($11)
Planting for Honey Bees in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys ($32)
Honey from my bees in Barren County ($15)
Gift Certificates – good for any of my products or services
(you choose the amount)

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Pre-Order Logistics and What to Expect

  • E-mail the following information to
    • List of items, sizes, and quantities that you want to order.
  • Ordering deadline: noon on Thursday, Feb. 9.
    • Orders are filled in the order that I receive them.
    • I will make sure I have everything you want and send you the total for the order.
  • On the day of the delivery:
    • I will have your order ready to go when you arrive.
    • You can pay by cash, check, or card.

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February Tasks When Gardening for Pollinators and Wildlife

  • Make sure any birdhouses you have up have been cleaned out and are in good working order.
  • If you are planning to put up any new birdhouses this year, then now is the time to get them up.
    • The birds won’t start nesting in them yet, but they will be checking out and evaluating different options.
  • Walk around your house, garage, and any other structures paying careful attention to the siding, eaves, soffit vents, and attic vents.
    • If there are gaps, openings, or tears in the screens, repair those as soon as possible to reduce the likelihood of critters deciding that your home would make a nice place to raise their babies this spring.
    • Preventive exclusion is the cheapest and most effective manner of dealing with this type of potential human / wildlife conflict.
  • Provide a winter treatment for any seeds that you are planning to plant which require a cold, moist period in order to break dormancy.
    • If you plan to let Mother Nature provide the winter treatment, get them outside now in order to ensure they have enough cold days.
    • If you are planning to do an artificial cold, moist stratification, then you need to get most species started by the end of the month if you want to plant in the spring.
  • If you need to cut down some trees, winter is the best time to do it from a wildlife and pollinator perspective.
  • Resist the urge on the warm days to “clean up” your garden.
    • All the little insects and critters are still asleep in that vegetation.
  • Now is a great time to identify and possibly treat invasive species on your property, especially poison hemlock.
    • If you are using herbicides, be sure to read and follow the label.
  • Keep an eye out for all the early signs of spring that will begin popping up this month.

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Relevant Backyard Ecology Resources

Planning & Management

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Species Profiles & Observing Nature

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Busy Bee Nursery and Consulting

Helping you create the pollinator and wildlife habitat of your dreams, so you can enjoy your land and care for the plants and animals that also call your property home.


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