The goal this year is to begin to use more native plants in our gardens. That's because native pollinators---and that includes bees, butterflies, all sorts of insects and birds--are in trouble.
We've poisoned them with lawn and garden chemicals and in doing so, we have also taken away food sources for others. For instance, the insects and grubs which birds need when nesting and raising their young are no longer available. Pollinators are also starving because they do not have the most beneficial food from native sources. An analogy would be to feed your child soda and chips. Sure, they fill up, but it's a lousy diet.
So let's feed the Monarch butterflies, the insects, the birds and the bees with native plants. It's easier than you may think. Here's a few to consider:
Late Figwort (Scrophularia marilandica): What a funky flower! Native to CT, this tall-growing perennial is not showy, but it is a nectar powerhouse, attracting hummingbirds, a whole line-up of bees which include specialists like the long-horned bee.
Butterfly Weed ( Asclepias tuberosa): Can bloom from May through September, this short and showy orange variety of milkweed is easy to grow. It's the larval host for Monarch and Queen butterfly and Grey Hairstreaks.
Sneeze Weed ( Helenium autumnale L.): This late-season perennial like wet areas and blooms yellow or orange. It's in the aster family and is a super choice to extend the season for those pollinators who are still looking for food in September and October and
later! Note: there's also a purple-headed version worth checking out.