Last week I went to Cornerstone Sonoma, a retail place with expensive shops and restaurants and beautiful gardens that are open to the public (and free!). Several years ago I visited the gardens with my friend Jo, but since then Cornerstone has changed ownership and consequently so has the entire marketplace.
One of the changes I was very interested in is the pollinator garden designed by Kate Frey. She is a Bay Area gardener who, together with Gretchen LeBuhn, wrote the book "The bee-friendly Garden". She lives and garden not too far away from where I live and therefore is an inspiration for my garden.
Her pollinator garden is one of the bigger (if not the biggest) gardens at Cornerstone, and when I entered this beautiful space I immediately felt right at home. I was walking around her garden, observing and nodding to myself, making mental notes about the plants that all are so familiar to me because - they are in my garden as well.
Wonderful Verbena bonariensis "Lollipop", a true bee magnet since it provides nectar to native bees. Once it's established it won't leave a garden ever again. It actually can become a bit overwhelming. It readily re-seeds and I had to pull some of them over and over again so that they don't overtake the garden. However, it is so beautiful and beneficial that it has a forever place in my flowerbeds. I love it to mingle with red poppies (gorgeous color combination) or plant some coreopsis at their base.
Agastache is another bee-friendly plant and it comes in many varieties. This one is "Tutti Frutti" (that I killed in my garden last year...), but there are also "Black Adder" and "Blue Boa" (I think you can see them in the second photo from the top) and I know that Kate also likes to plant "Rosy Giant" which I have in my backyard.
Of course there has to be Echinacea (I don't know which variety this is) - it's a favorite of mine even though it sometimes has been hard on my patience. They take time to grow to their true size, but every year when they come back they become a little fuller and bigger.
I was happy to find Gaillardia as well, I think this is "Sunrise Sunset", the one that I killed in my garden, or "Arizona Apricot". I love Gaillardia, but it seems I'm only successful with the red ones "Burgundy"...
Another yellow flower I didn't know is a good pollinator is Kniphofia "Bee's Sunset" - well, it's in the name already. I'm not really a fan of the hot poker plant, but it sure looked good in Kate's garden.
Walking through this garden to the busy humming of the bees and the dancing of the butterflies I realized happily that my own garden has turned into a true pollinator garden. I couldn't ask for more.