Crowd-sourcing good pollinator plants

lobelia tupa, salvia indigo spires

Hello all! I am crowd-sourcing great pollinator plants since good localized lists are hard to come by. If you’ve got something to contribute, here’s what you should include in your comment:

1) Name of plant–botanical names are best since common names can vary from place to place. Include the cultivar if you have it!

2) Where you saw it–Seattle? Walla Walla? London?

3) Commentary–“it was full of all kinds of insects” or “loads of bumble bees” or even “there was a whole bunch of one thing but I have no idea what.”

4) If you want to include any other useful plant notes (flops, needs cutting back, gets way wider than it says it will) those are great too!

Here’s an example from me:

Salvia ‘Indigo Spires,’ Seattle. Hummingbirds love this plants and I’ve seen lots of bumble bees and honey bees on it. Technically, it’s perennial around here but they often die on me over the winter but I forgive them and often replant because they bloom for a LONG time, well into fall and I like to watch the hummers and bees visiting. They also are somewhat flopsy. Not for everyone.

FYI The Lobelia tupa in the photo is also a great hummingbird plant.


What happens if all the bees die?

Buzz Off

Rose Eveleth hosts the podcast Flash Forward, exploring possible future scenarios. She interviewed several people, including me, for her podcast on bees. Check it out–it’s educational and entertaining and includes a bonus bit from the man who drew the original Cheerios bee!


October–Brightening a gloomy day

Ah, hardy cyclamen. I know it’s ridiculous but they seem like happy flowers to me. When I saw these ones brightening up the gloom under a maple tree, I smiled. So I guess I’m giving to them the feelings that they engender in me. I’m okay with that. And although today is a bright and sunny one, we won’t have too many more of them so I’m put these cyclamen up here in hopes of they may make others smile too.

Also, for some great info on cyclamen go to this Pacific Hort post by Richie Steffan, Cyclamen for Summer and Autumn.


On writing a nonfiction book

Hi all, I know I don’t post here much anymore. I’ve been involved with writing about bees for the last few years.

I never thought I’d write a book and the whole process of writing, finding an agent, and getting a book of nonfiction published has ranged from confusing to exhilarating with bits of obsession, dismay and prickled pride thrown in. If you’d like to read a bit about what it was like for a first-time author who never expected to write a book, go to I’ll be writing about it there from time to time.


June–The Power of Paint

It’s Burano, Italy but we could do this in Seattle. Photo by Saffron Blaze – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

I’ve often thought that Seattleites should paint their houses wild and vibrant colors as an antidote to the gloom. I need that antidote right now. I’ve lived here for decades and I know that summer often doesn’t start until after the 4th of July but I am REALLY done with wearing fleece–and socks. By Saffron Blaze – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater

I think we might all be happier if we followed the main character’s example in Daniel Pinkwater’s children’s book, The Big Orange Splot. An accidental splot led to a whole new paint job, a hammock, a pet alligator and long conversations with the neighbors.

My old house was a cheery yellow with a teal door. The one I’m in now came painted a nice, but fairly subdued, shade of blue. If you choose not to paint your house aqua or bright orange, you can make up for it by picking the right plants for your paint job. One benefit of the right subdued paint job is how they can showcase certain plants as seen with this rose. It takes the eye right off the meter (at least it did so in real life.)