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Gardening for Pollinators and Wildlife – May 25, 2024

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Shannon’s Note

I always enjoy working in the nursery at this time of year because it is so full of life. As I transplant, I listen to the sharp “snap” of the eastern phoebes catching bugs behind me. From off to the side, white-eyed vireos, yellow-breasted chats, and Carolina wrens loudly proclaim their territories. Hummingbirds, bumble bees, and a host of other flower visitors can frequently be seen at the foxglove beardtongues that are in full flower. Even in the nursery, our plants play a role in the ecosystem.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be attending the Bounty of the Barrens Farmers Market in Glasgow and the Community Farmers Market in Bowling Green. We’re looking forward to both events. You can find all the event details, including the plants we’ll have available at the links below. If you can’t make one of the upcoming markets, please let us know and we’ll see if we can come up with a mutually agreeable time to do a pre-order delivery.

I’m also excited to introduce our new Pollinator Garden Starter Kits. They’ll be available for the first time at our upcoming farmers market events. The pollinator garden starter kits were inspired by a conversation in the Backyard Ecology Community where several of our members said that when they were first getting started, they were overwhelmed with all the choices and needed an “easy button answer.” I know they aren’t the only ones who have felt that because I talk to people at various events who say basically the same thing. The pollinator garden starter kits allow us to give them that easy button option. You can learn more about the kits below.

Some of the foxglove beardtongues blooming in the nursery.

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New! Pollinator Garden Starter Kits

Our pollinator garden starter kits are specifically curated to take the stress, overwhelm, and uncertainty out of starting your first pollinator garden. Each pollinator garden starter kit includes 18 plants representing 6 species that:

🌱 are native to Kentucky and Tennessee,

🌱 will grow well in medium moisture soil (what most people have in their yards),

🌱 tend not to grow much taller than about 3 feet,

🌱 are easy to grow and care for, and

🌱 will attract a wide range of pollinators and wildlife.

Once established, each pollinator garden starter kit will provide blooms from late April / early May through late September / early October.

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Nursery News

Wow! I can’t believe how much everything has grown in just the last 2 weeks! Almost everything has doubled or tripled in size!

We currently have around 35 species of native flowers, vines, and grasses available, including 9 species that are either completely new species or ones that we haven’t grown for a couple of years. We anticipate having multiple additional species of native flowers, vines, grasses, and trees / shrubs, including even more new species, available this fall.

Keeping up with everything is certainly keeping us busy and on our toes.

We have lots of milkweed this year and it is looking amazing. Butterfly, common, and swamp milkweed are all available now. We may have a 4th species available this fall, but it is growing slower and isn’t ready yet.

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Native Plant Spotlight

Milkweeds are a popular group of plants to include in pollinator gardens because of their importance to monarch caterpillars. However, it’s not just monarchs that benefit from milkweeds. Milkweeds are vital to a wide range of other insects and pollinators, including many insects that are milkweed specialists, just like the monarch caterpillars.

Kentucky has approximately 13 species of milkweeds that are native to the state. With so many native milkweeds to choose from, you should be able to find one that will work well in your garden. In many ways, all our native milkweeds serve similar roles in the ecosystem so which one you should pick depends a lot on your site and how you want the plant to behave. (Some species spread a whole lot more than others.)

If you have the space and conditions to plant multiple species of milkweeds, then go for it. Some research has shown that including multiple different species of milkweeds on your property can be beneficial for egg laying monarchs because if given the choice, egg laying monarchs will select different species of milkweeds at different times of the year. I’ll include links below to some Backyard Ecology resources related to milkweeds if you want to learn more about how to best incorporate them into your landscape.

This year we are growing 4 species of milkweed this year, but only 3 species are ready to sell. You can learn more of the details about each of the 3 species we currently have available by clicking on the images below.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Rose / Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

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Right Plant, Right Place Selection Guide

If you are more advanced than the pollinator garden starter kits but could still use some guidance when picking the right plants for you, then we’ve got you covered with the Right Plant, Right Place Selection Guide. We developed the Right Plant, Right Place Selection Guide to help you sort through the species we are growing and find the ones that will work best in your location.

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Upcoming Sales and Events

Native Plant Sales*

* Event descriptions include lists of species that we will have available and how to place a pre-order if you want to make sure we have exactly what you want.

Educational Events

We still have room for a few more activities or events this year. Please contact us if you have a community event coming up that you would like us to participate in or if you would like for us to consider being a guest vendor at your local farmer’s market.

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Workshop Waitlists

We are making plans for an invasive species workshop and another Native Plants 101 Workshop. Join the waitlists to be among the first to find out about the relevant workshop(s) and receive super early bird registration pricing.

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Backyard Ecology Resources

Did you know that Anthony and I produce a variety of free educational resources every week to help and encourage you as you grow native plants, create miniature ecosystems on your property, and attract pollinators and wildlife? Below are some of our free resources that you might enjoy.

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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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