WPPA Pollination Preservation Garden #1
Massachusetts Central Rail Trail - Wayside Weston
Garden Plant List
The Wayside Weston Pollination Preservation Garden at the Mass Central Rail Trail contains 15 species of native plants that provide pollen and nectar for
at-risk pollinators in Eastern Massachusetts from late spring to early fall.
Agastache scrophularefolia (Purple Giant Hyssop)
This tall, fragrant plant from the mint family is a hummingbird and butterfly magnet, and attracts many beneficial bee pollinators too. A late summer flowering plant with purple or pink blooms, it does well in sandy/loamy,
moist to average soils. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction and competition from invasive plant species, it is now rare to find Purple Giant Hyssop growing in the wild within its native range.
With its long-lasting, nectar-rich bright orange flowers, Butterfly Milkweed is a pollinator "powerhouse" and low-maintenance showstopper in the garden. As its name suggests, this native plant is particularly adept at attracting butterflies, and is a host
plant for the Monarch butterfly. Importantly, it also supports a number of at-risk bees too, including the imperiled bumblebee, B.vagans.
Unlike Rose Milkweed, Butterfly Milkweed will thrive in dry soil. It has a deep tap-root so once established, it likes to stay put!
Observing this wildflower in 1852, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal that "No other flowers exhibit so much blue. That is the value of lupine." Though wide-ranging across the Eastern United States, true wild lupine (the straight species) is now rare in New England, and extinct in Maine. Most of the lupine we see growing in fields and beside roadsides (quite prolifically in in Maine) is an introduced lupine species L. polphyllus, which has become naturalized and is now considered invasive. Native Sundial lupine is particularly beautiful as a mass planting. Once established it thrives in sunny locations and performs well in dry, well-drained soil. Sundial lupine is the host plant for the rare Karner blue butterfly, and is also a great source of nectar for our endangered B.fervidus and B.vagans bumblebee species. As part of the legume family, Sundial lupine has roots that harbor beneficial bacteria which help to fixate atmospheric nitrogen, thus improving soil fertility for neighboring native plant communities.
Foxglove Beardtongue's pinkish white tubular flowers are a favorite nectar source for long-tongued bees and hummingbirds. It is a long lived perennial adaptable to a range of light conditions (full to partial sun, and shade), but prefers drier to medium soils. The "Beardtongue" description in its common name is derived from the small tuft of hairs that appear on the plant's stamen, which is sterile.
White Meadowsweet is an important mid-season pollen source for at-risk pollinator species. Its dainty, fuzzy flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators and are long lasting. This shrub is adaptable to a variety of site conditions but is happiest in sunny, wetter conditions. This hardy shrub is also deer resistant, making it a great choice for areas where browsing is likely.
Host plant for several at-risk butterflies in Massachusetts, and prized by birds for the food, cover, and nesting sites it provides, Big Bluestem is a tall, warm season grass reaching 5-7 feet at mature height. It's striking blue green foliage and reddish flowers appear in late summer and turn a glorious bronze in the fall and winter, making it a great accent in the garden with multi-season interest. Big Bluestem is also drought tolerant and deer resistant.
Eutrochium maculatum (Spotted Joe Pye Weed)
Eye-catching, statuesque Joe Pye Weed makes a dramatic statement in the garden, announcing itself to pollinators and people alike with its showy pinkish to purple blooms that typically stand up to 6 feet high. Offering a rich source of nectar for bees and butterflies, Joe Pye Weed blooms profusely from mid-summer to fall. Its ornamental seed heads provide food for birds and remain attractive throughout the winter. Joe Pye Weed likes fertile, moist soil, and thrives best in areas that get full sun to part shade.
(Scarlet Bee Balm)
No pollinator garden should be without Scarlett Bee Balm. A nectar-rich pollinator magnet, coveted by hummingbirds and butterflies, but also by many bees, this spectacular wild- flowering plant is easily naturalized or contained within more formal garden settings. Its common name derives from the distinct bright crimson flower heads that bloom steadily from late June to August, and the medicinal use of its leaves is said to alleviate the pain of actual bee stings. A member of the mint family, Scarlett Bee Balm has a lovely earthy smell, similar to oregano. In the garden, it does best in full sun and consistently moist, fertile soil.
(Blue Stemmed Goldenrod)
From late summer into fall, blue-stemmed golden rod provides valuable late-season pollen and nectar for butterflies and bees. Unlike many other goldenrods, this particular species is well suited to shadier sections of the garden. Blue Stemmed Goldenrod can beautifully incorporate into more formal manicured gardens, as it is less aggressive than other goldenrods, but is equally at home in a woodland patch.
Vaccinium angustifolium (Late Lowbush Blueberry)
The late lowbush blueberry is a short shrub that flowers in late spring, a time when many pollinators are searching for pollen and nectar sources as they establish nests. The dainty white flowers are a favorite with bumble and other types of bees, and the blueberries that form in summer offer important nutrients to birds and other wildlife. This shrub will remain on the shorter side and is a good border plant in sunny to part sun locations.
Rose Milkweed is a critical larval host for the Monarch butterfly, and is also a nectar-rich source of food for bees and hummingbirds. Showy clumps of tiny purplish pink flowers form heads on upright stems with long narrow leaves. Rose Milkweed thrives in moist to average soil in full sun to partial shade.
Hypericum prolificum (Shrubby St. John's Wort)
A valuable source of pollen, Shrubby St. John's wort is a super-hardy, adaptable, and long-flowering shrub that attracts diverse bees, butterflies, as well as birds. In mid-summer, when Shrubby St. John's wort's showy yellow flowers are in full bloom, bumble bees will flock to this plant to gather basket-loads of nutrient-rich pollen which they'll take back to their broods to process as food. Yellow flowers are followed by colorful red berries that last until late fall. The black seeds that split from the berries of Shrubby St. John's wort are also valuable food for finches and sparrows.
Wild Bergamot, like its close cousin Scarlett BeeBalm, is a clump-forming, nectar-rich perennial in the mint family. Its tubular lavender flowers form shaggy, pom-pom like clusters, and are irresistible to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees who visit from July-September. For humans, the plant also has medicinal uses. Teas can be made from its aromatic leaves, and Native Americans reportedly used the oil of Bergamot leaves to alleviate respiratory illnesses and treat indigestion. Unlike Scarlett BeeBalm, Wild Bergamot prefers drier to average soils, and is often found in dry rocky woods, unplanted fields, and along road sides. Because of its neat, contained size, it is a good plant for smaller gardens.
Showy goldenrod lives up to its name. This goldenrod, like others, is host to many different species of moths and provides late season pollen and nectar to many diverse pollinator species. Showy goldenrod has beautiful, large clusters of showy yellow flowers and is relatively well behaved in a garden setting, staying in clumps 1-2 feet wide when full grown.
The tiny yellow flower clusters of Golden Alexander are a welcome sight in spring- they are some of the earliest native plants to flower and offer early season nectar and pollen. These carrot family members are a host for the Black Swallowtail Caterpillar and are very easy to grow. Although they prefer to have wet to moist feet, they can thrive in a wide range of conditions, making them a great choice for beginning gardeners.