A Note From Rick | Native Varieties That Support our Pollinators

photo by Jeff Heatley

April 1, 2017

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

April 1st is Opening Day!

Plan your visit this weekend and take advantage of


Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Spring is in the air, and signs are everywhere!  From yellow tete-a-tete daffodils to purple crocus, to the blush of budding trees and shrubs, things are happening.

We’ve been working hard to prepare the garden to welcome you back.

It’s a busy time of year, with a variety of early maintenance chores.  All gardeners know that work done now sets the garden up for success for the rest of the year.

So what things should you be doing now?

  • Start your vegetable garden and be prepared to enjoy fresh greens and other vegetables through the season. I’ve planted spinach, peas, Asian greens, arugula, mustard greens, broccoli raab, kale, leeks and onions — all can be planted in the garden now, either in a vented cold frame, or sown directly in your soil. As the sun warms the soil in the coming weeks, plant your lettuce, beets and carrots.
  • Pull early weeds before they spread throughout the garden.  Spending a few hours now will reward you with reduced weeding chores later in the growing season.
  • Clean up twigs, branches and leaves before perennials appear and help them grow unrestricted. Make a game of it with your children and grandchildren to get them outdoors!
  • Apply organic fertilizer in a circle to the root areas of small trees and shrubs throughout the garden. Edge your planting beds to create clean lines.
  • Roses can be pruned when the Forsythia blooms, and don’t forget to remove the mulch used for winter protection around them. 

Are you thinking of replacing some under-performing perennials this year? Consider the many native varieties that support our pollinating insects. Pow Wow Wild Berry

I like any species of bluestar or Amsonia, and Bridge Gardens has both A. illustris and A. hubrichtii.

Coneflowers or Echinacea are another attractive nectar source and there are lots of hybrid varieties on the market now. Many are not vigorous and long lived, but “Pow Wow Wild Berry” is an exception. It grows easily and economically from seed. Or try some of the lesser known species like E. pallida or paradoxa.

White wild indigo (Baptista alba) takes a while to get established, but is spectacular in bloom, as is the more common blue wild indigo.              

Butterfly Weed

For those who are looking for milkweed to support our monarch butterflies, rose millkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is more showy and more garden-friendly than common milkweed, which is invasive and best grown in wide open spaces. If you have a hot, dry, sunny site with sandy soil, try butterfly weed (A. tuberosa).

Finally, black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) are colorful and easy to grow. Most commonly sold in containers is a variety of Rudbeckia fulgida, called ‘Goldsturm,’ but there are many species and varieties worth growing.            

This is also the perfect time for tree and shrub pruning, and we were very grateful for the guidance provided by Jackson Dodds last weekend who led our workshop at the Gardens.

Jackson, a Certified Arborist and current President of the Long Island Arboricultural Association, led a walk through the garden last Saturday, accompanied by 45 attendees who learned best practices for pruning both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs.

Thank you for sharing your expertise Jackson!

I hope you’ll join us for other workshops coming up this year, or just to visit for inspiration. If it’s a beautiful day and the garden gates are open, come in to see what’s growing!

See you soon, 

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