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Bringing In The Beneficials
Special thanks to “Ann Lovejoy” for her contribution to this article…. Doug
Inviting Bees, Bugs and Butterflies
One key to garden success is the garden’s ability to attract and host beneficial insects of many kinds. Not only will we experience better cropping as pollination rates improve, but beneficials also chase away or gobble down a multitude of garden pests. Wise gardeners may set aside an area near the garden proper to act as the host space for beneficials. Organic growers call such areas “bug banks,” since they become storehouses of invaluable insect garden allies. In its simplest form, a bug bank strip might hold herbs like borage, dill, and mint, as well as early blooming rosemaries. The more plant variety you can offer, the greater the range and volume of insect helpers you will garner.
Northwest Natives For Insect Habitat
Native plants that bloom early are excellent bug bank additions, including various kinds of Oregon grape (Mahonia), and flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum). Native violets, and foamflower (Tiarella)are also good candidates. So are all sorts of “weeds,” which are so often more appreciated by insects and other critters than by control-oriented gardeners. The garden that supports a few thistles will also support goldfinches, and those dockweeds, buttercups, and dandelions are always in hot demand among the non-human garden users.
Key … P= perennial; B=biennial; no notation=annual; I=intermittent through the year; F=through to frost; **=super nectar producer
ULTRA EARLY (through winter)
autumn croci (**; P; pulchellus,albus,zonatus…) cyclamen (**; P; neapolitanum, hederifolium, coum…) snowdrops (**; P) aconite (**; P)
borage (I, **) calendula (I, **) earliest narcissici (**P)
EARLY
early daffs and narcissi (**; P) species tulips (**; P; tarda, hageri…) glory-of-the-snow (**: P; Chionodoxa) iris reticulata (**; P) rosemary (P, **) primrose ( P; early)
MID-SPRING
Single Daffodils (P) species primrose (P) violets (P; **) violas ( P, I, **) anemones (**; P; Spring-St. Brigid’s mix, monarch de caen…)
alyssum (annual-I; and perennial; **)
HIGH SPRING
Late Single Daffodils (**;P) Tulips-single (P) Dutch iris Aquilegia (P;columbine) Armeria maritima (P; **; native-sea pinks)
Candytufts (annual-F, &P, **) Dianthus (sweet Williams, some F; and per.pinks) creeping phloxes ( P; **;incl. native P. subulata) Campanulas (P) Centaurea (**; A-I; &P) Digitalis (**: B; foxglove) English daisy (B; **;bellis)Godetia ( F; **;s summer’s herald-native)
Clarkia (F; **; native-mountain garland) Linaria (F; **0 Lupines (A&P) Lunaria (B; money plant) Pyretheum ( P; painted daisy)
Saponarias (P; soapwort) Stocks (F, **) Cal. Bluebells (**, Phacelia campanularia) Nemophila (**) Tidy tips (**) Myosotis ( B; **; forget-me-nots) Poppies-single (all, A &P, **, California poppies-I) Sweet peas (**)
EARLY SUMMER
Anagalis ( P; blue pimpernel) Bidens (P; golden goddess) Achilleas ( P; I; F; **; incl. native A. millefolium) Nasturtiums (F, **)
Chives (**; P; both garlic and regular) Parsley (**: B) Cilantro (**) Erigeron Dill (**) Mints (**) Dymorphotheca ( F; African daisy)
Dahlberg Daisy (F) Shasta Daisy-single ( some F) geranium (some F; true geranium-NOT Pelargonium) Gilia (**; birds eyes)
Purple tansy (**; Phacelia tanecetifolia) Silene (**; P; catchfly) Hesperus matronalis ( P; **; sweet rocket) Linums (**; A & P)
Lobelias (A- F; &P) Monarda (**; P) Nepetas ( **; P;F; catnip, catmint…) Potentillas (P, F) Spireas (P) Viscaria (**; rose angel)
thymes (**; P)
HIGH SUMMER
Agastaches (**; P; licorice mint…) Asclepias (**; b-fly weed) Asters-single (A&P; F; **) brachymone ( F; swan river daisy) Basils (**)
Catananche (P; cupid’s dart) Centranthus ( P; F; jupiter’s beard) Cleome ( F; spider flowerù) Annual chrysanthemum (F) Convolvulus (F)
coreopsis (F; **) Cosmos ( F; ; A&P) Dianthus ( F; A &P; carnations, ann. pinks… singles) Eupatorium ( **; joe pye weed) Gaillardia (F; **; A & P) Gazania (transvaal daisy) Hollyhocks-singles (**; P, B & A; singles) Marigolds ( **; F; singles-”gem” series T. signata) summer savory Zinnias ( **; F; singles; Africans “profusion”series) Salvias and sages ( some F; **; A & P) Oreganos ( **; P) Malvas (P) Mimulus Penstemons ( P; some F; incl. natives) Gauras ( P; F; **) Phlox ( F; A & P) Physostegia (F; P; obedient plant) Portulaca (F) Sunflowers-singles ( **; F; A & P) Tahoka daisy (**; F) Torenia (F; wishbone flower) Trachymene ( F; **;blue lace flower) Verbenas ( F; **; A&P) Verbascums (**; P) Veronias ( P; **; F; speedwell) Lilies (**; P) Daylilies-singles (**, P; some F)
LATE SUMMER
Asters-singles ( F: A&P: late) Amaranthus (F) Echinaceas (**; P; F; coneflowers) Rudbeckias-singles (**; F; P; black-eyed susans) Ratibida (**; F; P; prairie coneflower) Ornamental grasses (P- important part of beneficial bugs’ life-cycle) Oenothera (**; P; F; evening primroses) Sedums (**; F; P; incl. natives) Early, single mums (F; P) Tithonia (**; F; Mexican sunflower) Solidagos (**; F; goldenrods)
FALL
colchicums (**; P) late single mums (F; P) late sedums (**:F; P) fall anemones(**; F; P) saffron crocus (**;P; all autumn crocus)….
So what to do with all this stuff?
Give a 4-6″ border along my raised beds to marigolds, nasturtiums, alyssums and dw. zinnias. Throw in some herbs throughout your plot- mints grown in a coffee can with both ends cut out, some chives and thyme (these last 3 are good near cruciferae), summer savory with your beans, some basils and garlic (to flower) among solanums, some dill intersown with a tall crop or at back of plot, some overwintered parsley to bloom, a radish (to bloom) in each hill of cucurbitae- and your plot is a bennie (beneficial bug) truck stop!”
“Use some “living mulches” among taller crops (cruciferae, solanum, corn…) such as alyssums, Nemophila, tidy tips, California poppies and bluebells, even Dutch white clover increases the effect exponentially.”
“Let some crops bolt (deadhead before seed matures) to take it to the next level. Throw in some of the real nectar-super producers along the edge w/ the annuals (linums, Phacelia, gilias, clarkias, godetias, dw. coreopsis, violas, dwarf bachelor buttons…) and some fall/winter/spring bulbs and prepare for the haze!” (Sean likes to see a “living haze” of insects in the garden as often as possible.)
“You’ll get more reliable pollination and consistent control of your pests. Beyond that, it’s a personal art-you’ll refine your plan for your crops and microclimate as you go. A minimum of “land wasted on flowers”, a maximum of output with little labor. It’s the only way to fly!!”


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