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Planting the pathway edge for pollinators. Ideas?

 
Diego de la Vega
Posts: 39
Location: Central Virginia, USA
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I have a steep slope with a set of brick steps I installed heading to a pergola planted with Hardy kiwi.  I want to plant the edge with something perennial that will serve as a slope stabilizer, beautifier, and pollinator attractant.  It could also produce food and or build soil.

This plant must Not be:
Overly aggressive/invasive
Heavy feeder stripping soil nutrients
Tall shading other plants, or leaning too far into pathway.
Likely to disrupt the path with roots.

Any ideas on things that could grow here and meet the goals I have?  Thanks everyone!


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Brick steps/path
 
Todd Parr
Posts: 770
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Comfrey would be one plant I would use, although it will get pretty tall if you don't cut it.  It does a great job of building soil, and if you don't have to cut it, the bumblebees LOVE the flowers.  It isn't invasive, but will spread if you chop the roots up.  the roots grow down much more than they spread, so that should cause a problem for you.  You would need to keep it back from the edge of the path 3 feet or so to keep it from hanging over the path, or keep cutting the plants for chop and drop that are near the path.

Mint is another plant I use a lot, but it is invasive, so it may not help you.
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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It looks like you could plant a wide variety of flowering perennials and shrubs, since you're not primarily looking for food production there. You could check out other gardens in your area to see what you like, and plant one of each, leaving some space so you can fill in gaps later with the things you liked or that did well.
 
Casie Becker
pollinator
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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This actually reminds me that I need to divide the yarrow that I'm cultivating as edging for garden bed in the back. I'm going to try to do the same with garlic chives in the front. Based on their growth patterns in my garden; lemon thyme, oregano, and winter savory would also make good edging plants. I've seen many bees and some butterflies on all of these during their flowering season.
 
Libbie Hawker
Posts: 55
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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Crimson clover! Definitely a big pollinator attractant and a great nitrogen fixer. Not perennial, but they'll self-seed, so it's just as good.

Some of my other favorite insectary plants: scarlet trumpet, nicotiana, yarrow, and bee balm (though bee balm gets fairly tall, so maybe not here...)
 
Tracy Wandling
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Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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Sweet Alyssum is a lovely, low-growing, pollinator-attracting edge plant that smells glorious and the bees, butterflies and other pollinators love it. It is an annual, but happily self-seeds. You can cut it back after it's first flush of flowers begin to fade, and it will put out more flowers. At the end of the season, let some of them go to seed and you'll have next years crop!

I love it. I comes in white, purple and yellow I think. And if it flops down onto the path, that's okay - it will release it's sweet smell when you brush past it or step on it. It's pretty rugged. And it's used as a companion plant with many veggies. Definitely a good one to have in the mix.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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