Minnesota gardeners can do much to increase the population of the state’s bees, butterflies and other pollinators that play such a vital role in food and flower production.

Pollinators of Native Plants bookHeather Holm, author of the book Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators of Native Plants, will conduct a “Bees in the Garden” workshop at Tonkadale tomorrow at 10 a.m. The workshop is free, and no registration is required.

Ms. Holm lives in Minnetonka. A graduate of the University of Guelph in Canada, she is a landscape designer and consultant specializing in native plant landscapes and restorations. She is passionate about native plants, pollinators and attracting and observing wildlife with native plants.

Ms. Holm also is the author of the blog Restoring the Landscape with Native Plants and is a monthly contributor to the national team blog Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. She has converted her 2/3 acre landscape from a dull lawn into a mixture of prairie and woodland plant communities.

Bee populations have been declining for years, and numbers of monarchs in the state have dropped 43 percent since winter 2013.

“There are more than 300 species of native bees in Minnesota alone, including 18 kinds of bumblebees, and little data on how their populations are doing,” Ms. Holm, said in a recent interview with the Duluth Tribune.

“We see what’s going on with the high-profile species like monarchs and honeybees,” Holm said. “But we don’t have baseline data for most of Minnesota native pollinator species. We can surmise, though, that the same problems with pesticides and habitat are affecting our native species, too.”

The best thing gardeners can do is take an active role in providing habitat for pollinators, according to University of Minnesota Extension. The best habitat comes from increasing the number of heirloom plants that provide pollen and nectar for beneficial insects and bees. Ms. Holm will give more information establishing these habitats.

The Xerces Society has a list of flowers and garden plants that are bee-friendly for Minnesota gardens.

The University of Minnesota Bee Lab also has a list of bee-friendly plants. UM Extension has a list of butterfly-friendly plants as well.

Many of these plants are available at Tonkadale Greenhouse. We can help you choose the best ones for your garden.

Join us for the workshop Saturday. We hope to see you there!