A Garden for the Rusty-patched Bumblebee: Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators 

A Garden for the Rusty-patched Bumblebee: Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators 

By Lorraine Johnson and Sheila Colla with illustrations by Ann Sanderson 

  • Publisher: ‎Douglas & McIntyre, 2022 
  • Paperback‏:‎ 256 pages 
  • ISBN-10: ‏ 1771623233 
  • Dimensions: 7.9” X 9.2” 
  • Price: $22.95 (Amazon.ca); (currently not available on Amazon.com) 

I am a long-time fan of Lorraine Johnson’s native plant gardening books. 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens, Grow Wild: Native-Plant Gardening in Canada and Northern United States, and The New Ontario Naturalized Garden are some of the first books I bought on the topic when I started down the path of growing native plants. All of those books were informative and helpful on my journey. However, A Garden for the Rusty-patched Bumblebee is a giant step up from those, in my opinion.  

First off, in the introductory chapters, the authors carefully build the argument for growing native plants in our gardens and they tackle the sometimes contentious issues of cultivars, raising honeybees, and the myth of the value of city green-spaces (at least as they are currently manifested). They share important information on the differences between many of our pollinators – solitary bees, bumblebees, various specialist bees and their critical needs, as well as on other insects that are pollinators. They also discuss the reasons why we need to “leave the leaves” and otherwise ensure that these pollinators, be they bees, moths, butterflies or beetles, have suitable overwintering habitat. 

But what I like best are the plant descriptions. These are placed in alphabetic order by scientific name (which, if you’ve read any of my blog articles, you’ll know I’m adamant about) and divided into season of blooming (spring, summer, fall). Each plant description includes height, colour, growing needs, and a short blurb about the plant. I especially like the “Specialist relationships” and “Good companions” sections for the plants. And each plant has either a photograph or one of Ann Sanderson’s beautiful and accurate drawings. 

But our perennial herbaceous flowers aren’t the only things that need pollinators and vice-versa. So there is a section on Grasses and Sedges that are important food sources for many pollinating insects, and there is also a section on Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines. 

The book then wraps up with a discussion of rain gardens, boulevard gardens, some sample garden designs, and a list of resources.  

As the current native plant “guru”, Dr. Douglas Tallamy, stated in a recent webinar (I’m paraphrasing here) – if you only buy one book on native plant gardening, this is all you’ll need. 

Happy native plant gardening. 

© The Native Plant Gardener 2022