When planning your garden or adding new plants remember our pollinators. They have been declining and continue to be threatened by habitat loss, disease and the excessive and inappropriate use of pesticides and herbicides.
Our pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles, flies, birds (hummingbirds in our area) and bats. Studies show that these plant pollinators are responsible for 1/3 of the food we eat. They also sustain our ecosystem and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce. Three quarters of the worlds plants depend on our pollinators to reproduce. Our agricultural economies, our food supply and surrounding landscapes would collapse without pollinators.
Some of the ways we can help:
1. Add pollinator friendly habitats in our gardens, farms, schools and parks. Choose a mixture of plants for each season. Different flower shapes, colors and scents attract a variety of pollinators. Provide clean water with a birdbath or shallow dish with half submerged stones for perches.
2. Plant native plants
3. Spread the word about the importance of pollinators
4. Support farmers and beekeepers by buying local honey and produce
5. Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides. Incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control.
www.pollinator.org Provide a brochure Selecting Plants for Pollinators
www.fws.gov/pollinators/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
www.nrcs.usda.gov/pollinators Natural Resources Conservation Service
Do you recognize this pollinator?
www.npsnj.org Native Plant Society of NJ - dedicated to promoting the appreciation, protection, and study of NJ's natural flora
Year Round Maintenance Schedule
Monthly information to maintain your garden can be found at Rutgers Landscape and Nursery
So Many Fall Asters!
I was up in New York State this past weekend marveling at all of the different Asters that were in bloom in the fields and forests - and all of the insects that were enjoying them so thoroughly. Pollinators were everywhere! Our Blue Wood Aster is fairly dripping with bees (both native and honey) these days. With the large number of Asters we grow in our gardens, we have had Asters flowering since early August and expect to have them flowering at least until the end of October. By having many species of Aster, we (and the pollinators) are able to enjoy these beautiful flowers for months.
How many native Asters can you name? There are 40 different native Asters found in New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania alone! They can be found in nearly every habitat - from the coast to the mountain tops, swamps to dry meadows, sun to full shade. If you are walking through dry woods you may encounter Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolius) covered with pale blue flowers, starry White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata) with it's heart-shaped creeping foliage, or the pretty & aptly named Large-leaved Aster (Eurybia macrophylla). Out in the sun, you may see deep purple New England Aster (S. novae-angliae) growing 2 to 6' tall - a native aster which a
lot of folks seem to recognize. Other 'sunny' asters that are less well recognized include Calico Aster (S. lateriflorus) with it's clouds of tiny bi-colored flowers, light purple New York Aster (S. novi-belgii), Smooth Blue Aster (S. laevis) with its blue flowers and blue/green leaves, & the light purple flowers of Purple-stemmed Aster (S. puniceum) growing in moist areas. You can even find Asters growing on rocky balds - such as the beautiful pale blue Stiff Aster (Ionactis linariifolius). Keep an eye on our Facebook page - we'll be posting some more Aster picture there in the next couple of weeks.
A word about the confusing scientific names of Asters... So why aren't all Asters in the genus Aster? The scientific names of Asters became a bit more
confusing a few years ago when research revealed that we only have 1 true member of the genus Aster in North America - the Alpine Aster (Aster alpinus). All of the rest of the North American 'Asters' were moved to other (mostly more difficult to pronounce!) genera such asSymphyotrichum, Eurybia, Oclemena, Ampelaster, Doellingeria, and Ionactis. These name changes simply reflect our better understanding of how the different species are related to one another.
Dr. Randi V. Wilfert Eckel
Toadshade Wildflower Farm
53 Everittstown Road
Frenchtown, NJ 08825