The mark of a successful pollinator garden is not simply the amount of flowers present in a space but the consistency in which blooms are present during the changing seasons. This will ensure healthy foraging opportunities for a multitude of pollinators without large gaps of nectar ‘famine’ in between.
There are a number of species that embrace the heat of early summer with wide-open blooms. This grouping of perennials are important to know because of their timing and resilience even during the dog days. Here are a few we recommend.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
A consummate meadow species which has cheery, yellow blooms that are akin to the warm smile of a friend. The black-eyed susan is prone to spread and pop up in various locations around a perennial garden. This could be a welcome attribute as with many naturalized areas it will provide an “unplanned” randomness that will soften groupings and edges. It is very successful in poor, dry soil.
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
The cousin of the common milkweed this “showier” version has striking pinkish/magenta blooms. It prefers the soil to be moist but is very adaptable to dry environments. True to it’s asclepias roots it supports the Monarch butterfly life cycle and will sacrifice it’s leaves to raise the zebra striped caterpillars.
Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)
This widespread Canadian species has been given the name “fire-weed” because it is one the first colonizers after forest fires. It can be found even in the far reaches of the Yukon and Northwest Territories. A vigorous growing species that will spread once established. Give it room and enjoy its magenta-fueled bravado.
Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium)
Unique blooms make this species all the more valuable to a natural garden as it can easily contrast common wildflower species. The white, knobby blooms provide pollen and nectar for a variety of beneficial pollinators. This is a sturdy and tough species that is deer resistant. The quinine is very adaptable and only asks for some consistent sunlight.
Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata)
The daisy-like flowers boast of rich reds and yellows that can vary in circular concentration from flower to flower. Blanketflower loves the heat and blooms with joy throughout the summer. It will tolerate a wide range of conditions and is known to handle drought with ease.