Create a Backyard Pollinator Habitat
- Information for Gardeners in the USA and Canada
Updated October 2015
Welcome! I've written this page specially to give visitors to my website from the USA and Canada some ideas where to get further information about creating a backyard pollinator habitat. It doesn't matter what size your garden is - Even small city yards can make a difference.
Your soils, climate and native wildlife are significantly different to those here in North Western Europe, so information on wildlife gardening intended for British gardeners will not always be relevant to your conditions.
The general principles of garden management listed on my Gardening for Nature page do apply to you. Plenty of plant ‘structure’ to give your garden a variety of mico-habitats, leaving some dead stems and seedheads over winter, and not using pesticides - all this applies to you too.
However, when choosing plants that are suitable for your region and appropriate for your local wildlife you need to seek local advice. Many of the plants recommended for wildlife gardens in Britain and Ireland are not suitable for North America.
For example, several well-behaved European wild flowers that are often recommended in the UK as bee and butterfly plants are highly invasive in North America. On the other hand, there are many scarlet, trumpet- shaped flowers that are of little or no use to wildlife here in Europe, but are grown in North American gardens as they will attract hummingbirds. (We don’t have hummingbirds in Europe).
Where to get information
For further reading I recommend:
Stein, Sara Bonnett:
Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of our own Backyards.
ISBN: 0395653738 (out of print, but readily available from book dealers such as abebooks.com)
Marinelli, Janet: Stalking the Wild Amaranth: Gardening in the Age of Extinction.
Henry Holt, 1998. 238pp. ISBN: 0 8050 4415 9
Grissell, E: Insects and Gardens. Timber Press, 2001. ISBN 088192 504 7
(One of my favourite books - should be compulsory reading for every gardener).
Buchmann, S, and Nabhan G P: The Forgotten Pollinators. Shearwater Books, 1997. ISBN 155963 353 0. (A "good read" - not at all dry or boring - another of my favourite books).
Holm, Heather: Pollinators of Native Plants. Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants. Pollination Press, 2014. 306pp. ISBN 978-09913563-0-0. I highly recommend this book - it has lots of useful information about insects, flowers and their geographical distribution.
Butterfly Gardening: Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden
Sierra Club Books, 1998. 208pp. ISBN 0 87156 975 2. Sponsored by the Xerces Society and the Smithsonian Institution.
Pollinator Conservation Handbook. A guide to understanding, protecting, and providing habitat for native pollinator insects. Xerces Society, Portland OR. 2003. ISBN 09744475 01
The list above, which is specially for gardeners in the USA and Canada, is by no means exhaustive, but gives you some very good places to start. There are longer reviews of some of these books in Chapter 11 of my Bibliography, which you can download as a pdf from my Recommended Reading page
Here are some links to websites for gardeners in the USA, and some for Canada:
Gardens and Wildlife
National Wildlife Federation : Garden for Wildlife
Native Plant Gardening and Invasive Plants Guide, with links to plant lists by state.
Wild About Gardening: Wildlife gardening pages of the Canadian Wildlife Federation
A leading organisation concerned with the protection of invertebrates and their habitats. This site has useful and topical information about all kinds of pollinators.
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
A campaign in the USA to register a million public and private gardens and landscapes to support pollinators, in collaboration with the National Pollinator Garden Network.
Has a link to a pollinator-friendly planting guide for your region if you live in the USA, and details of the annual National Pollinator Week.
US Forest Service: Pollinators
USDA Gardening for Native Bees in Utah and beyond (PDF document)
Urban Bee Gardens:
A site from University of California at Berkeley with lots of info about planting your garden to encourage wild bees.
University of California, Davis: The HD Honeybee Haven
An interesting garden (open to the public) with a good downloadable plant list for the Western USA. Many of the plants on the list will attract other pollinators, not just honey bees.
Migratory Pollinators Program:
An attractive, slightly more scientific site from the Arizona-Sonora Museum explaining the ecological role of pollinator species that migrate with the seasons.
Solitary Bees and wasps in your own back yard. A page from the University of Florida with useful info about managing bee blocks.
"Resonating Bodies” is a series of integrated media installations, community outreach projects and educational initiatives which focuses on biodiversity of pollinators of Canada, with special focus on the city Toronto.
Enjoy your gardening, and thanks for visiting my website