Bee friendly: Seedling sale makes it easy and affordable

Want to plant a pollinator garden of your own? The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual low-cost sale offers good prices for native shrubs and tree seedlings. This year’s packages focus on planting “bee-friendly” gardens that also will benefit other pollinators. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation estimates that these insects provide more than $50 billion in ecological services.

The 2014 Shrub and Small Tree Package features 10 seedlings for $16.95. The Tree Package includes 6 seedlings sold for $11.95. A full, nonrefundable payment must accompany your order by Monday, April 28, 2013, or until supplies run out. You will receive a confirmation receipt and a map to the pickup site (in central Fairfax County). Orders may be picked up on Friday, May 2, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., or Saturday, May 3, 9:00 a.m.-noon.

Click here to order. Information about species in packages is below.

Also, FYI, Merrifield Garden Center‘s Merrifield location is holding a free workshop, “Attracting Birds and Butterflies,” this Saturday at 10 a.m. Plant specialist Robert Woodman will cover how to create a habitat “that will encourage these winged beautiful to visit your garden — and perhaps extend their stay.”

NVSWCD Tree Package (6 Seedlings for $11.95)

2 American plum (Prunus americana) Native bees, bumble bees and honey bees alike are drawn to this small 30-35 foot tree. Bright red, one-inch plums can be eaten fresh or processed as preserves and jellies. Grows best on rich, moist bottomland soils.

2 Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) Fragrant white flowers in spring are beneficial to honeybees. Slow growing, typically 20-40 feet, up to 75 feet in moist sites. Distinctive bark and fall color. Edible orange fruits on female plants ripen in the fall. Sun to partial shade.

2 Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) Outstanding scarlet fall color! Slow-growing to 50 feet with a tall, narrow shape. Flourishes in part shade or sun and dry to wet sites. Used by many species of wildlife, especially honeybees.

Shrub and Small Tree Package (10 Seedlings for $16.95)

2 Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Inconspicuous green to white flowers especially valued by honey bees and nectar insects. Scarlet red to orange berries often remain into midwinter. Grows 6-12 feet in full sun to shade.

2 Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) Special value to native bees, honey bees, bumble bees, nectar butterflies and nectar insects. This 10-foot, rounded shrub has sweet, fuzzy white globes that bloom throughout the summer, yellow leaves in autumn and clusters of nutlets in winter. Sun or shade.

2 Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) Early-blooming, attractive white flowers provide a food source for native bees. Berry-like summer fruits attract songbirds. This fast growing plant prefers moist areas and sun to part shade conditions. 25 to 30 feet tall.

2 Indigobush (Amorpha fruticosa) Great for native bee, butterflies and other nectar insects. Fast grower reaching 8 to 15 feet in part shade or full sun with 1 to 3 inch long light brown to purple flowers.

2 American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) Native bees often use materials from elderberry for their shelter. Clusters of fragrant white flowers in early summer. Edible fruits prized by wildlife. 6-12 feet in height. Fast-growing, flourishes in shade or sun, tolerates dry or wet sites. Great rain garden plant!

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