Currently the Luffa vines at the back of my garden are exploding with bold yellow blooms that are swarming with activity. So far I’ve managed to pick out honeybees, hover flies, and a few small native bees. Of course Luffa plants aren’t native to the Southern San Juaquin Valley, and they don’t really provide those pollinators with much more than a quick snack.
Though I’ve often worked among swarms of native, and not so native, pollinators, I’ve rarely been able to provide for them in any meaningful way. The Pollinator Victory garden promises to win the war on pollinator decline by giving the reader a basic understanding of the relationship between pollinators and the plants in their gardens. It provides guidance for plant selection and layout to benefit bees, flies, birds, bats, and even beetles.
The book is lavishly illustrated, and coffee table friendly. My daughter, a budding entomologist at three years old, has already worked through the entire text with me picking out the insects from the microphotographs. The book contains a considerable amount of basic information and guidelines without being especially dense. I managed to read the entire thing over the course of a few hours spread out in small increments throughout the week.
Information is arranged in 5 chapters of varying length covering: Essentials of Pollinators and Pollination, Providing Pollinators with a place to Live, Providing Pollinators with Food to Eat, Parade of Pollinators/Meet the Pollinators, Creating and Growing a Pollinator Victory Garden. There is also a small appendix providing a checklist and plant lists broken up by the type of pollinator they provide for and the plant type.
I initially bought the book after hearing an interview with the author and was primarily keen on finding out how to provide living space for California native ground nesting bees. While the book does provide information on the topic its not much, I was likely overthinking the subject. It is literally as easy as leaving some undisturbed, unimproved, unplanted dirt for them to bore down into. It feels almost wrong as it goes against a gardeners natural urge to improve the soil so maybe that’s why it feels so unsatisfying.
This book is an incredibly handy source of basic guidelines to make a garden attractive to native pollinators and other wildlife. You would need to do some additional reading if you have a specific species in mind, but resources are provided to that end. With this book, and the supplementary material found on the website though, you can definitely dive into the subject.