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Designing a Stylish Pollinator Garden

Careful plant placement helps this space attract a plethora of good insects without looking messy

Fine Gardening - Issue 194
It’s definitely a monarch-approved space. The network of plant communities within this garden ensures that there are pollinators aplenty for visitors to enjoy from the wooden paths.

A few years ago, in an effort to try to help dwindling butterfly and bee populations, my partner Mikel and I plowed up an acre of invasive bittersweet on the edge of our coastal Rhode Island home to create a sunny pollinator garden. Rather than designing a wild-looking space that might look messy to some, we thought a larger, more interesting challenge might be to create a more stylish garden that could nevertheless still help buoy insect populations. We asked ourselves, should our space look like a naturalistic meadow, or like a more-polished perennial border? Deep digging into garden literature resulted in the pollinators themselves answering this question.

The author works to clear the walkway.

John’s Favorite Plants for Pollinators

The first spring in the pollinator garden we planted more than two thousand plugs and were itchy to see results. But not much insect activity happened at first. Plants…

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