Ruth Gonzalez of Reems Creek Nursery in Weaverville is just one of many local gardeners who are excited about pollinators.
“We started the pollinator garden at the nursery last year with the intention of being a habitat for any pollinators, and with the goal of having something blooming all the time, so that when pollinators visit the garden, they will always find something to eat,” she says. “It is encouraging in just its second year how beautifully things have grown in.”
June is designated National Pollinator Month to celebrate the ecosystem provided by bees, butterflies, birds, beetles, bats and other species that help pollinate more than 1,200 crops. This month, Asheville GreenWorks and Bee City USA Asheville will hold events throughout Buncombe County as part of their Pollination Celebration. Additionally, Bee City USA Hendersonville is coordinating events and activities in Hendersonville and the surrounding area. Participants include breweries, the Center for Honeybee Research, Buncombe County Recreation Services, Conserving Carolina, Henderson County Cooperative Extension and MountainTrue.
Though public awareness of the alarming decline of pollinators is fairly recent, Gonzalez has been teaching butterfly gardening classes for over a decade at the nursery. As part of the Pollination Celebration, she and her co-worker Tanya LaCorte will present a free pollinator gardening class and honey tasting with products from Honey and the Hive on Saturday, June 15.
“It is absolutely not too late to plant,” Gonzalez says. The Reems Creek pollinator garden was planted with perennials including black-eyed susan, echinacea, aster, coreopsis, liatris, heather, swamp milkweed and butterfly weed; annuals such as zinnias and cosmos were added as well.
Milkweed, Gonzalez notes, is another perennial that’s typically planted to attract monarch butterflies, which use its leaves as host for their eggs and food for caterpillars during their migration cycle between Mexico and Canada. “But other insects also feed on the nectar of the flower,” she says. “Milkweed is a pollinator garden multitasker.”
Gonzalez advises home gardeners to determine where there is plenty of sun in their yard before planting, because bees, like humans, “love the sunshine and love to be out in the sun on a warm day.” She adds that, depending on rainfall, new plantings may require more water than established plants through the summer.
Details on Buncombe County’s Pollination Celebration events can be found at ashevillegreenworks.org. Look for a schedule of Bee City USA Hendersonville’s events at avl.mx/64o.
WHAT: Pollinator gardening class and honey tasting
WHERE: Reems Creek Nursery, 76 Monticello Road, Weaverville
WHEN: 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, June 15. Free. Preregister at the nursery or call 828-645-3937