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Why a Pollinator Garden?

by Kristina Lefever

at the request of the Medford Garden Club

Scenic vistas of orchards, farms, ranches, beautiful mountains and valleys full of wildflowers ..... we must be in Southern Oregon! Although, if you have lived here for more than a few years, you have seen the changes - open land giving way to places for human habitation, new businesses, city infrastructure, and more.

This article is to offer a reason, and a way, and yes, a hope, that we as humans can help offset these changes for the long-term sustainability of this beautiful place where we live. My premise is that gardens, specifically pollinator gardens, are even more important now, because they provide not only a much needed respite for the remaining populations of pollinator species, but also a place for them to live, survive, and thrive in an ever shrinking larger landscape. It is becoming more and more apparent that gardens can no longer serve only the interest of “us” - in fact, we must think about how our outdoor spaces can serve other creatures who live here, too, before it's too late.

And not just too late for the bees and the butterflies and the birds who depend on these plants, especially the plants that are native to this place, but "too late" for us, too. Because, without these tiny, almost invisible creatures, our world will become bereft of not only the beauty that we see around us in the landscapes of southern Oregon, but our food crops will suffer as well. Consider the madrone and the cherry tree, the manzanita and the tomato, the yarrow and the carrot, the honeysuckle and the squash - all of these flowers must be pollinated in order to set seed and reproduce. (Photo of Tarweed in seed and flower)

In fact, 85% percent of all flowering plants, including trees and other native plants, depend on bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds to be their partner in reproduction. Especially those hard-working bees, who help provide us with one out of every three bites of food.