Gardening: Creating a pollinator friendly space

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

February is prime time for attacks of the winter ickies and one good way for me to ward them off is to curl up with a good gardening book. At the top of my stack is the new release, “Pollinator Friendly Gardening” by Rhonda Fleming Hayes (Voyager Press $21.95).

There’s much more to creating an eco-friendly habitat than picking plants with tags that exclaim: “Attracts Butterflies.” Those, Hayes explains, are usually nectar producers and she stresses the need to include larval host plants, such as dill, too.

Along with bees and butterflies, Hayes includes information on other important pollinators such as bats, hummingbirds, beetles and beneficial insects. And she shares the spotlight with professionals who give scientific- based approaches to providing pollinator friendly gardens.

Thanks to her numerous lists, plant selection is a snap and you can create attractions that target various pollinators and orchestrate them by bloom time so they provide food throughout the season, Better yet, Hayes recommends “weaving” them throughout the garden to attract beneficial insects as well the show-stoppers.

Hayes also designates native and nonnatives for those who wish to garden with plants that were here when the colonists arrived. However, she gives solid reasoning for using both natives and nonnatives in plantings.

Water is key for pollinator success and a source surrounded with bee favorites will keep them away from your pool. (I didn’t know bees smell through their antennae.) There are directions for bee waterers and watering stations along with a list of plants that capture raindrops – also great for butterflies.

Last but not least, at the end of the book is an expansive list of resources, recommended reading and useful websites that will take you on an adventure that will make the gray days sunny and the winter fly by.

If, like me, you use sticky notes and highlighters to call out facts, you want to remember you will need a big supply when reading this book.

‘Bee’ one in a million

The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC) is a nationwide call to action to preserve and create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across America. We will move millions of individuals, kids and families outdoors and make a connection between the pollinators and the healthy food people eat.

To learn more about pollinators and register your garden or start a pollinator garden go to Let’s put Michigan at the top of the list.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at