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Are you up for the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge?

By Matthew Shepherd on 10. June 2017
Matthew Shepherd

national pollinator garden network

The National Pollinator Garden Network is a newly created partnership of organizations involved with pollinator conservation, wildlife gardening, and gardens. The network was initiated as part of the White House’s National Pollinator Strategy and is coordinated by the National Wildlife Federation. It draws together nearly two dozen nonprofits and organizations with a shared aim, to make gardens better for pollinators nationwide.

The NPGN was launched by First Lady Michelle Obama last Wednesday during an event at the White House. And with the launch came the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge: Can the nation establish a network of one million pollinator gardens within two years?

That’s the challenge. Will you pick up the gauntlet—or gardening glove—and help?

It doesn’t need to be a big garden, but it should offer a mix of nectar-rich flowers and be free of insecticides. If there’s enough space, include somewhere for bees to nest and provide host plants for caterpillars to munch on. (Sometimes good gardening means holes in leaves.)

Fill a window box with flowers. Add planter pots to your deck. Create a colorful garden border. Mix flowers in with the vegetables in your community garden. Enhance the grounds of your school or church. And for the challenge, what’s accepted as a garden goes much wider: city park, golf course, corporate or university campus, farm. These are all places that can be improved for pollinators, so the challenge can be accepted by anyone. The only limitation is your imagination!


A Xerces Society pollinator habitat sign stands in a front-yard pollinator garden
Pollinator habitat sign in a front-yard pollinator garden. Photo: Matthew Shepherd.


And don’t worry if you already have a pollinator garden, that can be counted—but maybe you can go one step further… Can you get your neighbors and friends to make their gardens better for bees?

To make your garden count, go to Bring Back the Pollinators and sign the Pollinator Protection Pledge. You’ll be added to the one million.

You can also find lots of information about bee-safe gardening at Bring Back the Pollinators; regional lists of nectar plants, guidance on nest sites for bees and caterpillar host plants for butterflies, advice on insecticides, even a way to purchase the best available book on pollinator conservation, Attracting Native Pollinators.

I’ll make sure that my garden counts. Will you join me?


Further Reading

Pollinator Conservation in Yards and Gardens

Smarter Pest Management: Protecting Pollinators at Home

Discover the diversity of pollinator insects


Matthew has spent more than 35 years working with people from all walks of life to create better places for wildlife. His career began in England and took him to Kenya before his arrival in the United States. He has worked for the Xerces Society for over two decades, initially at the vanguard of the movement to protect pollinators, but he shifted to communications, and now community engagement and conservation in towns and cities. Matthew is author of numerous articles and other publications, including Attracting Native Pollinators (Storey Publishing, 2011) and Gardening for Butterflies (Timber Press, 2016).

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