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Dishin' the dirt from the garden and beyond

Pollinators gear up for fall

 
Late summer is not usually a time I'd invite anyone into my garden. The more spectacular blooms are spent, so looky flowers are less plentiful, and other aspects of the garden are way too lush.You don't want people to have to hack through a jungle to follow the garden path.
 
But nonetheless, it's party time in my garden for at least one group: Pollinators have staged a convention in the backyard, suddenly descending in droves.
 
Just as we gardeners start to focus on capturing as much of the freshness of summer produce as we can before season's end, so too do bees and butterflies. While we're busy preserving produce in everything from jewel-like jams to puckery pickles, our yards are abuzz with bees and butterflies gorging on nectar to prepare for migration or hibernation. I have to paw past bumblebees to get to the cucumbers and dodge waspish-looking things hovering around the basil blooms.

Among the biggest draws for the butterflies are the boring generic phlox that grow in my alley. The monarchs don't seem to care that the phlox are far from trendy, or that my goldenrod flop. To them, it's all just a buffet to belly up to.

Phlox is one of the 12 plants listed in this About.com article (http://insects.about.com/od/butterfliesmoths/tp/12nectarperennials.htm) that butterflies love. Many of them have a long and/or late bloom time, which might also explain why I get so many more pollinators in fall than spring. Of the 12 plants, I've got six: phlox, black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, sedum 'Autumn Joy,' goldenrod, and the ultimate bee magnet in my yard: the New England asters that are covered with almost as many bees as blooms.

What brings pollinators to your yard? I'm happy to share my overgrown backyard with the bees and butterflies. They don't judge a garden on its looks.

Greengirls, gardening and games at the fair

Got a plant question or want to brag about your flourishing flower and veggie gardens?

Head to the State Fair Star Tribune booth to hang out with the Greengirls bloggers. Play a game that tests your knowledge about what you can or can't compost and what's a garden friend or foe  -- and win prizes, too.

Greengirls will be at the Strib booth -  right at the bottom of the Grandstand ramp - from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 31 and 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 2.

We welcome all green thumbs – from novices to know-it-alls.

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