It’s nearly the middle of October, and though it seems like most plants are dying or becoming dormant, if you look closely at fields and roadsides you’ll see bees of all sizes as busy as summer on the many flowers still blooming. I don’t know about you, but I love to look at the natural beauty of Maine roadsides in the fall, with perfect patches of deep purple, white and pink asters, black-eyed susans and goldenrods. We have native fall wildflowers that are even sold for gardens since they are so striking, such as the purple New England Aster (in photo above). Even goldenrods (which contrary to what you hear don’t cause seasonal allergies), which many think of as weedy have beautiful species and cultivars that look lovely in the garden. All of these plants provide absolutely essential late season food for bees, butterflies and other insect pollinators. Long grasses, shrubs, and unmowed pasture and crop field edges all help to provide what pollinators and other beneficial insects need.
We are starting a Pollinator Pathways project here in Waldo County, where you can let us know about your pollinator site (garden or even a field managed for wildflowers) and we will be creating a map to help folks create a patchwork of pollinator habitat to help support our many beneficial insects. And, our first site is already in place, at Wales Park in Belfast. It is also a demonstration, with labels on plants and pathways to explore. Check out our page on the park, and our new video series on planting for pollinators on our YouTube channel. If you visit Wales Park now, you can see bees of all sizes loading up pollen on native asters, goldenrods and also garden favorites like Zinnias and Cosmos. Next spring we’ll let you know how to submit your planting for Pollinator Pathways.