Vail Daily column: Attract wildlife, especially pollinators, to your yard | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Attract wildlife, especially pollinators, to your yard

You might not want to coax a bumblebee onto your finger like you would a ladybug — but that doesn't mean you shouldn't invite Mrs. Bumblebee into your yard.

After all, we would have nothing to eat without our pollinating wildlife, a group that includes hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, some wasps, etc. That's why it's important to do our part to make our yards healthy and productive landscapes by putting out the welcome mat for pollinators.

June 16 was the start of National Pollinator Week, but it's always a good time to think about pollinators.

MIMIC THE NATIVE LANDSCAPE

Back or front yard gardens can offer pollinators and other wildlife a habitat that provides food, shelter and materials for nesting. No matter the size, even small pockets of wildscape in our yards will attract a diversity of pollinators and songbirds, too. You'll be surprised by the kinds and numbers of pollinators and birds that will find your yard, especially when you create small patches of plants, grouped in ways that mimic the structure of the surrounding native landscape.

Wildscapes vary greatly, but they share some basic design and maintenance principles. They do the following:

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Offer diverse layers and shelter just as nature provides.

Grow natural food using a diversity of plants that attract a wider range over a longer period of time.

Provide water for drinking and bathing via ponds and bird baths.

Conserve resources by using plants that are native or especially adapted to our climate.

Colorado's own Plant Select brand offers many excellent plants that attract pollinators — and because they are well-suited to our altitude and often harsh growing conditions, they should be at the top of our list of plants to consider.

Colorado Gold gazania

More information: http://www.plantselect.org/plant-details/gazania-linearis.

Size: 8-to-10-inches tall by 8-to-10-inches wide.

Conditions: Moderate to dry; full sun.

Care: Easy care; may self-seed but is well-behaved.

Why grow it: Starts blooming early, then continues nearly all summer long.

Attracts: Bees and butterflies.

Altitude limit: Up to 7,000 feet, but it may self-seed as an annual plant at higher altitudes.

Walkers Low catmint

More information: http://www.plantselect.org/plant-details/nepeta-psfike-pp-189041.

Size: 8-to-10-inches tall by 12-to-16-inches wide.

Conditions: Moderate to xeric (little to no additional water once established); full sun.

Care: Trimming off old blooms will encourage re-blooming and fuller plants.

Why grow it: Long-blooming, easy to care for, it's sterile (doesn't self-seed) and it stays compact.

Attracts: Butterflies, bees, moths and hummingbirds.

Altitude limit: Up to 9,000 feet.

Winecups

More information: http://www.plantselect.org/plant-details/callirhoe-involucrata1.

Size: 5-to-8-inches tall by 30-inches wide.

Conditions: Dry to xeric (little to no additional water once established); full sun.

Care: Cut back to base in spring. Trimming back after first flush of flowers encourages bushier growth.

Why grow it: Easy to grow, extremely drought-tolerant and covers a large area of space.

Attracts: Butterflies, bees and moths.

Altitude limit: Up to 8,000 feet.

Penstemon strictus

Size: 15-inches tall by 12-to-15-inches wide.

Conditions: Moderate water; full sun.

Care: Cut back in spring. Cutting back after first flush of flowers encourages re-blooming.

Why grow it: Easy to grow, long-blooming, glossy foliage and flowers come in a wide range of colors.

Attracts: Butterflies, bees, moths and hummingbirds.

Altitude limit: Up to 9,500-feet.

Blue rabbitbrush

More information: http://www.plantselect.org/plant-details/chrysothamnus-ericameria-nauseosus-var-nauseosus1.

Size: 16-to-28-inches tall by 20-to-30-inches wide.

Conditions: Moderate to xeric (little to no additional water once established); full sun.

Care: Shape in spring for bushier growth.

Why grow it: Silvery-blue leaves, beautiful in and out of bloom.

Attracts: Butterflies, bees and moths.

Altitude limit: Up to 9,000 feet.

Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.