Sunday, June 28, 2015

An Example of Garden Design for Pollinators at UBC Farm

 On Saturday I taught a workshop at James Richardson's permaculture course. I found a great example of gardening for pollinators in the Landed Learning Garden. In the centre of the garden is crocosmia, a hummingbird magnet which has bright red flowers with long nectar tubes. A cheeky little hummer gave us a lovely demonstration of sipping nectar while we admired her.

The next layer in this grouping is comfrey (Symphytum officinale), which was almost finished blooming, but was still attracting hungry bumblebees with fat golden pollen baskets. This bee is grooming while hanging on the blossom by one leg. The hummingbirds were also sipping at the comfrey which refills with nectar about every 3 hours. The third plant, which was a lower layer was hardy geranium (Geranium maculatum). It has shallow purple flowers with clear nectar guides that was attracting honeybees and tiny native bees.This planting is an example of a great way to design for pollinators, with different plants catering to different niches filled by a diversity of pollinators.

Artist Jasna Guy, pictured here with fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), helped me out in the workshop and showed us how to use a tuning fork to release pollen. She has had good luck putting flowers in a vase and then using the fork to release the pollen when they reach that crucial point in their development. Jasna is exhibiting her work this fall at the Richmond Art Gallery. Please keep an eye on her fabulous blog for details.

Students who want more information about mason bee houses can check out this info from the Xerces Foundation.

Folks interested in further classes in bee knowledge can check out Brian Campbell's  classes at VanDusen Gardens and Langara College. 

The Environmental Youth Alliance also offers opportunities for learning about bees and you can drop in on the open hive days at Hives for Humanity in the Downtown East Side.

Thanks for a fantastic afternoon of exploration!

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