I’d like to have a garden that encourages bees and butterflies. What’s the best approach?
–Robert Miller, Bakersfield, CA

Attracting bees and butterflies to a garden is a noble pursuit indeed, given that we all depend on these species and others (beetles, wasps, flies, hummingbirds, etc.) to pollinate the plants that provide us with so much of our food, shelter and other necessities of life. In fact, increased awareness of the essential role pollinators play in ecosystem maintenance—along with news about rapid declines in bee populations—have led to a proliferation of backyard “pollinator gardens” across the U.S. and beyond.

“Pollinators require two essential components in their habitat: somewhere to nest and flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen,” reports the Xerces Society, a Massachusetts-based non-profit that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. “Native plants are undoubtedly the best source of food for pollinators, because …