During the early parts of the summer, I’m always struck by the lack of pollinators — particularly honeybees — in my garden. We get the occasional bumblebee and wasp that come to feast on the nectar of flowering annuals and perennials in the landscape, but it’s obvious we don’t have enough of the right plants to attract large numbers of early-season pollinators.
But as summer starts to peer around the corner towards autumn, one plant begins to bloom and turns the front gardens into a veritable pollinators’ paradise. That plant is Hylotelephium (formerly Sedum), a late-season blooming perennial. When its spreading clusters of small, star-shaped flowers open, it’s as if someone turned on the neon buffet sign and a conga line of bees and butterflies drinks in a frenzied flurry.
The most popular Hylotelephium among the pollinators is ‘Matrona’. In the late afternoon, the flowers crawl with honeybees.
The honeybees are surprisingly camouflaged against the pink flowers, and it’s often hard to see them until they move from one flower to the next.
Even large butterflies like Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) enjoy a drink from ‘Matrona’.
Small skipper butterflies (Hesperia sp.) also show up for the Hylotelephium nectar feast.
I always look forward to the Hylotelephium bloom and the return of the pollination party in my garden. It’s been going on for a few days now, and my son has taken special interest in the honeybees. Yesterday, he sat near one of the plants, staring at the bees doing their yeoman’s work. This morning, as I was transplanting some new plants in the side yard, he ran around the corner yelling, “Dad, I pet a honeybee. Two strokes!”
Although I reminded him to only pet them in the morning, when the cool air slows their reactions and aggressiveness, I was pleased with his budding interest in nature and proud of his desire to study and treat it with care.