I stopped by LEAF’s Urban Forest Demonstration Garden outside of the Bathurst TTC Station to see how it was fairing in the hot summer weather. That’s when I discovered a bee party unlike any I’d seen all season - pollinators of many different sizes buzzing around some of our favourite flowers.
Are you curious to know what had lured out the bees in such numbers? Well, it didn’t take much - just a few flowering species seemed enough to capture (and hold) their attention.
Here are three native species that satiate our winged friends’ appetite for pollen in July:
wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
This pretty, sun-loving and drought-tolerant perennial grows approximately 60cm tall with light purple flowers in bloom from June to August. Adored by many pollinators including bees and butterflies, it is also a source of nectar for hummingbirds. The soft green foliage smells like earl grey tea and the flowers are also edible! So many reasons to love wild bergamot!
spotted Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
This tall and elegant summer-flowering perennial is an excellent nectar source for butterflies, and the bees so clearly love it as well. It’s less tolerant to drought but can grow in part shade. If it’s growing in its ideal conditions, you’ll likely have to look up to see the plumes of pink flowers above your head.
To learn more about wild bergamot, spotted Joe-Pye weed and other native perennials, click here.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum kalmianum)
The bright yellow flowers that cover this native shrub throughout the summer make it a great pollinator attractor. It grows about 60-100cm in height and can tolerate both drought and salt. It’s easy to grow and performs so well.
To find out more about St. John’s wort and other great native shrubs for your garden, click here.
The Bathurst garden is a buzzing example of the impact each small urban garden can have, providing habitat and encouraging biodiversity in the fringes of the urban grid.
Many thanks to our team of volunteer stewards who help keep our Urban Forest Demonstration Gardens in great shape. We always welcome new gardeners to the teams. Sign up to become a LEAF volunteer if you want to help tend one our native urban gardens. Or if you’d like to create your own pollinator-friendly garden at home, LEAF offers native trees, shrubs and garden kits through the Backyard Tree Planting Program.
LEAF’s Urban Forest Demonstration Gardens are supported Ontario Power Generation’s Biodiversity Program and the Toronto Transit Commission.
Erin MacDonald is LEAF’s Volunteer and Stewardship Coordinator.