Posted: 9:49 a.m. Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This spring, support the pollinators.

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This spring, support the pollinators. photo
Mandy Hardwick of Berns Garden Center & Landscaping

By Mandy Hardwick

Spring is in the air, literally. I’ve seen hundreds of seeds blowing in the wind near a stand of sycamores. I’ve smelled the hyacinths planted next to my driveway each time I walk by. But I have yet to experience the pollen vortex I heard about on the news. An explosion of flowers sent to punish the sinuses? The report went on to describe several prescription and over the counter options for allergy suffering humans. It didn’t mention one word about the role flowers and pollen play in our ecosystems as critical food source for insects. Which made me wonder — how many of us separate ourselves from nature?

You don’t have to be a die hard gardener, ecologist, or entomologist to appreciate pollinators and other beneficial insects. I’ll admit, some are creepy and few are a nuisance. But only a handful of them are pests that need to be destroyed. In fact, many are just as beautiful, colorful, and functional as your favorite birds visiting backyard feeders. We’ve all heard, you can’t get the butterfly without the caterpillar. In fact, caterpillars and other insects are exactly what birds are counting on to raise their young this spring! So when you see an insect or a colony of them on your plants, think twice before picking up the insecticide. Challenge yourself to identify the insect and learn about its’ life cycle. If you then decide to kill them, you have only improved your odds as this information is also crucial to your success. Certain stages of the insect development are more vulnerable to insecticides, and some stages are not susceptible at all. After all the research, if you are still not sure what to do or not to do, seek the advice of an expert. There are many local professionals making a living identifying and managing bugs.

Late March I spent the day in a few local communities, starting up water features (which I love). The movement of water instantly created a focal point and brought the landscape and gardens to life. Besides entertainment, water features also provide a place for backyard birds to bathe or get a much needed drink in times of drought. While working I noticed something else creating movement though on a much smaller scale, a conga line of bees working their way through crocus blooms. After all, where there are flowers, there will be insects.

So this spring, support the pollinators. Flowering trees are starting their show and it’s beautiful! “Galaxy” magnolias are one of my favorite! Red to purple blooms 8-10 inches across are late in the season, avoiding frost damage in most cases, and slightly fragrant. We planted some “Lavender Twist” redbuds today at the garden center in Middletown. Just below the weeping branches we put “Obsidian” heuchera. The combination is stunning.

Mandy Hardwick is a personal gardener at Berns Garden Center & Landscaping. Contact her or other professionals at 513423-5306. Berns Garden Center & Landscaping is located at 825 Greentree Road in Middletown and 3776 Indian Ripple Road in Beavercreek. For more information, visit www.bernsgardencenter.com.

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