Process of elimination

Now it’s time to choose your plants and design your garden.

There are plenty of valuable, but exhaustive, lists of native plants and pollinator plants.
The Pollinator Partnership PDF Selecting Plants for Pollinators: A guide for gardeners, farmers, and land managers in the St. Lawrence Lowlands Ecoregion includes tables of suitable trees and shrubs, native plants, and non-native plants and crops. My favourite books for pollinator plant ideas are by Heather Holm, Bees: an Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide (at the Ottawa Public Library) and Pollinators of Native Plants. I also like 100 Plants to Feed the Bees by the Xerces Society.

Great, but which plants should you choose for your garden? When I created my pollinator garden in 2017, I felt overwhelmed by these long lists of latin names for unfamiliar plants. In the following pages, I will show you my process for figuring out what to plant — the process of elimination. I continue to use this method for updating my other garden areas, so I hope you find it helpful too.

I rely on the process of elimination to decide which pollinator plants to choose.

You already know how to narrow down your options using your light and soil conditions, so here’s how to continue the process of elimination.

  • Do you already have a garden, and any pollinator plants that you can divide or move?
  • What garden style do you like, formal, cottage-like, or anything else? I am partial to the meadows and woodlands that I see when I visit the countryside and provincial parks. Find pictures of gardens that inspire you and capture your imagination.
  • Choose a colour scheme to further narrow down your plant options. A narrow colour scheme will automatically improve your garden design by encouraging you to repeat colours and avoid a clashing jumble.
  • Consider details, such as bloom time and height.