85 Lynda Boyer – Producing Native Plants For Bees


Speaker 1: From the Oregon State University Extension Service, this is Pollination, a podcast that tells the stories of researchers, land managers, and concerned citizens making bold strides to improve the health of pollinators. I'm your host, Dr. Adoni Melopoulos, assistant professor in pollinator health in the Department of Horticulture. I know a lot of people who are planning their pollinator gardens for 2019 are thinking about native plants, and I thought this was a great opportunity to finally catch up with Linda Boyer from Heritage Seedlings.

If you're in the restoration business, you know heritage seedlings. They grow over 120 different species of native Willamette Valley wildflowers, grasses, and sedges on their 35-acre farm. If that doesn't sound busy enough, Linda is also responsible for the restoration and maintenance of over 300 acres of oak, prairie, and riparian habitat on the heritage seedling properties. For all this work, Heritage Seedlings has been acknowledged as one of the Oregon Pea Project flagship farms. They do a lot, not only on their own farm but in terms of putting plants out across the landscape that pollinators really love. Also just a quick shout out, there's going to be a workshop with Linda, but also Kate Frey, and Al Shea at Oregon State University on February 16th on Gardening for Pollinators. Info is available on the show notes. Hope you enjoy the episode.

I'm really glad to be out of the office. I've gone up the I-5 to Salem to Heritage Seedling and Liners, and I'm sitting at the very top of the building with Linda Boyer. Welcome to Pollination. Thank you very much for having me. Now, we had an earlier episode with Linda Hardison from Oregon, Flora, where she talked about native plant communities around the state and their importance for pollinators.

It was a great episode. Can you describe a few of your favorite native plant communities around Western Oregon? Where do they occur? What kind of plants are made up in those communities and maybe even the current state of those communities? How they're doing?

Speaker 2: Well, I'm pretty biased because I work in prairie ecosystems, and we really just don't have very much of them left. There's less than 1% of our native prairie habitat left in the Willama Valley, and so much of that plant diversity has been lost.

And so we have around 560 native prairie plant species. Wow. Yeah, I know.

I was amazed. The majority of them also have pollinator species that utilize both flowering resources and cover during some part of their life cycle. And as we lose more habitat, we're obviously losing more pollinators. And so I'm also interested in oak woodlands. And the ones I really like are in our coast range, and they're an oak-madrone mix. And it's like on a rock outcrop, very thin, south-facing soils. And those are made up of a lot of annual species and bunch grasses. And what is happening there is that you have a lot of encroachment from conifers, especially on the edges where the soil gets a little deeper. So those are very threatened with just conifer encroachment. The same thing is actually happening here in the Malamut Valley, where you have conifers coming into oak woodlands, and then they overtop the oaks because they grow faster. And oaks grow really slowly, and they don't like shade. So you're getting really poor oak habitat by the overreaching conifers. And I think what's really nice is on private lands, people are starting to thin out those, you know, remove the conifers and thin out the oaks. And then the habitat and the understory become more diverse by doing that. So those are actually improving.

Speaker 1: You know, I think just around Corvallis, we have some of the understories really rich compared to a conifer.

Speaker 2: Oh, definitely. Yeah, because it gets more light. Oaks are interesting, too, because they leaf out later. And so it really gives, yeah, they're very late, late, late leafers. Terrible English. That's the true botanical term. And but it allows those early ethanol to come up, either fond lily or some of the buttercups and the camis, which you'll see in the oak ash swales.

So you get those really early flowering species because they have the light that they need. Of course. Yeah. So taking out those conifers really helps release. And I've seen that happen where they've actually been there in the seed bank. The plants are still there. They get released. And then all of a sudden, you see things blooming that you've never seen before.

Speaker 1: OK, so these are some really great Western Oregon habitats, plant communities that we've seen of a real, especially in this region, we've seen a lot of development. We're seeing a lot of it lost.

Speaker 2: Yes, definitely. And especially, you were just mentioning in Corvallis and I've gone on plant rescues when they've been developing up in the Timber Hill area. And, you know, you're just trying to scramble to collect seed and rescue plants. And yeah, we're losing, you know, and then invasive species as well. So development and invasive species.

Speaker 1: Are there any other communities that you want to highlight? Or is it these?

Speaker 2: No, I think those are the two, as I said, I'm kind of biased.

Speaker 1: OK, Prairie and these oak systems, oak systems. And we have this really unique one out on the coast.

Speaker 2: Yeah, it's really nice if you can ever find them. They're all they're pretty high up and a lot of them are owned by the BLM, but they're on private lands too. And they're just they're just like little gardens up in the mountains. It's in the hills. Oh, they're higher up. Yeah, they're about about 1500 to 2000 feet.

OK, all self-facing slopes, you know, you're you need to have a rope and tackle when you're out there trying to collect seed on them. But they are just they're just so pretty. I mean, they do they look they honestly look like a garden because they're just so pretty with the matrons and the oaks.

Narrow-leafed milkweed and lots of as it let showy tarweed. I mean, good, it sounds like cat seers. Just pollinator heaven.

It is it is it is. And again, and so that's why a lot of these agencies are managing them to release those, you know, remove those conifers on the edges so that it keeps that that open habitat that those pollinators need because you aren't going to find the pollinators in the conifer stands.

Speaker 1: OK, so we've got some existing habitat and it's starting to you know, there is this kind of mitigation that's taking trying to manage it. But I imagine trying to restore habitat in a broader sense can be a real challenge. One challenge that we often hear like I've heard this repeatedly is people talking about how difficult it is to find the source, the plant material to begin with. This is every time I talk to somebody, this always comes up as an issue. Now, I imagine, though, it's extremely hard. These are not to find the seed as you describe you're out there with your ropes.

Or not. But getting them, harvesting them, getting them into a system to propagate them. It sounds tough. So how do heritage seeds and other seed producers? How are you able to pull this off?

Speaker 2: Well, we started pretty modestly in back 17 years ago. We started with 50 different prairie species on an acre of land. And then I took that seed, it was bulked up and I collected some more out in the wild.

And then we started our first production area in 10 acres of land near the nursery here. And, you know, it just became clear that some of these things were very good in standard agricultural sort of standard agricultural methods, and some of them just really didn't work well. And over the last 17 years, the ones that didn't work well were inefficient to harvest. They were short in stature. They got too weedy. They just haven't made the cut, so to speak. But now we've successfully been able to for seed production and we're growing over 100 different species, 50 to 100, not too bad.

Speaker 1: I've tried more than that, but that's how many we're at. And mostly wildflowers, but also grass, sedges, and rushes. And I grow it on 35 acres, produced about 4000 pounds of seed a year, or mostly, you know, restoration use agencies and so on throughout the valley. And I call it my 35-acre garden.

Speaker 2: Because the plots are really small. They're 20th of an acre to maybe a third of an acre. And most people, other growers in the valley, there's nobody who wants to fuss with this stuff. It's just too labor-intensive. We use all kinds of innovative ways to collect the seed and harvest the seed. We have a combination from the 1950s. We've modified some of our cutting machines. And I gave I sort of encapsulated this in a talk in an article I wrote a few years ago. I called it providing native plant diversity to the Willamette Valley Eco Region, no tech, low tech, and old tech seed production. But that's what we had to do. It had we had to get really innovative. We grow some things on the ground clothed for seed capture.

So we've just tried everything. And then our plant production, we do mostly for our contract grown plants, not for the retail market, but our propagator had to learn the protocols on how to grow all of these. And, you know, a lot of the species are pretty easy and anybody out there who gardens, you know, who plays with seed finds, especially in our valley species, they just need some amount of cold and moisture in which to germinate.

But then there's some we've tried and you're like, well, that didn't work. OK, oh, it needs heat. OK, darn. Oh, it's got a hard seed coat. Oh, it needs scarification. Darn. OK. And so now we use acid to scarify our seeds.

So it is hard. And so anybody, say, a retail grower who wants to do this is probably not going to want to fuss. So, yeah, I hear the same thing where people are like, where to get the plants? What I am hoping I'm starting to see happen more is where people who want native plants just go and ask and you just ask and ask and ask. And then hopefully they'll realize that even if they're a retailer, they could go to wholesalers like us or Shapooey Nursery or Sholes Valley or Seven Oaks and buy those plants, then put them into gallons and and and sell them. Another problem, though, is that they don't.

They don't fit into the model. OK, it's springtime. It's time to plant.

Yay. Let's go to the garden center and buy native plants. And there's they don't always look like your peony will look or, you know, something that you're used to seeing there. Some of them actually need to be planted in the fall like camis and cat's ear calicordus does have to be planted as bulbs in the fall. Even if you bought a pot in the spring, you can't just take it out of the pot and put it in your garden.

It doesn't like to be bare-rooted. So that's kind of some of the difficulty is that people, why they're not seeing them on the market, is that they don't fit within that normal production model of what people expect when they go to a garden center. So it's education and you mentioned Linda Hardison and they've been doing some really good. But the Oregon Flora Project is getting these workshops out where you're connecting gardeners and the people who want to use the plants and the people who are growing the plants. And the more we can keep getting those two groups together, the more you'll start seeing more on the market.

Speaker 1: They've done a really good job. And shortly after the show goes live, Beevent is this event that happens in Albany every year. It's really great for gardeners. But I remember they were featured at the last Beevent. They've really made a strong effort to build resources for gardeners and give them some tips on how to get these plants established in their gardens.

Speaker 2: Yes, yes. The gardening page on the Oregon Flora website is very, very good because it has at least the vendors who have these plants. So what I think is just difficult is that if you lived on the East Coast or even in the Midwest, you'd be able to go into a garden center and find many, many more natives. They've sort of fostered that market, but they've been doing it a lot longer than we have. I think the native plant buzz, as you want to say it, has really only been happening. I mean, nobody knew what restoration was going on 20 years ago. So I think the whole idea of gardening with natives is so young. It's like 10 years old. So it's just going to take time.

Speaker 1: Well, I've been really excited. Every time people have come to the farm looking for bees, the bee diversity with all those small plots and with all these native plants is exquisite. And it was really exciting that Heritage Seeds became one of the producers in the Oregon Bee Project flagship farm program, because it just seems like, first of all, one of the aspects. We just had a show with Sarah Kincaid where she described the project as a collection of bees. I imagine the box of bees collected here is going to look amazing.

Speaker 2: Yeah, I think it was a surprise to get the Oregon Flagship Farm sort of nomination from Sarah with ODA. And really to get that honor, it's like, well, we were already doing what they what they're proposing, you know, proposing people to do.

And one of the farms, especially that we have our native seed production program on Ivan, you know, besides just the production plots, because those are actual agricultural plots. And so, you know, nothing's really kept up over the winter. And it's just kind of like we have to do weed control. So over the last, I don't know, five, six years, I've been working to create pollinator hedge rows and, you know, pushing to restore the edge habitats that we have oak and we have prairie and we have riparian to foster more native plants.

I'm using restoration tools on our farm areas just to keep pushing the envelope to keep more wintering habitats up for beneficial insects, ladybugs, and all that. I think that's what really impressed her. It wasn't just the native plant plots, which obviously hosts a lot of pollinators. It's the edge habitat that we are maintaining and the owners support it wholeheartedly, keeping up even down with the debris piles and, you know, keeping the quail happy.

So, yeah, it's sort of an all-around effort to just have to set a good example. And that's what the owners here at Heritage Seedlings are on, by the way, it's not Heritage Seeds. It's Heritage Seedlings. Thank you.

That's OK. Yeah, that's the company name. But, you know, they just have a really strong stewardship ethic. And that has been that I wouldn't have a job if they didn't have a stewardship ethic. What an odd job. I was hired to facilitate by a nursery to facilitate restoration on their properties and then start a native seed production program. You know, and I do other things for the nursery too, but it's because they care so much for the land that I've had this job for almost 20 years.

Speaker 1: Tell us a little bit about the farm. So you've got the hedge rows around and sort of in some ways, it's a really great model for a company that is in many ways becoming a source of seeds for restoration, actually practicing restoration on the farm.

Speaker 2: Yeah, I think it's sort of been the real drive for people to want to purchase our seed and it's not just a product. It's like walking the walk and talking the talk. We've been doing active restoration on all our farms for almost 20 years and we have yearly tours. Visit our website if you want to get on a tour list.

Speaker 1: And just the listeners will have the show notes. So visit the show notes will have links to all the things that Linda's talking about today.

Speaker 2: And so that's always been sort of the selling point is that we provide a lot of different information on how to do restoration work. There is more information than probably anybody ever needs on our website.

The owners have always purported to support it, being able to put that information out. And I've learned by just looking and trying and doing and seeing what works and what doesn't work. And I just realized, as I said, a few years ago, that I was I wasn't I was denuding the whole seed production area because I needed to.

And that wasn't giving me anything for beneficial support. I was losing crops because of seed bugs, which are a non-native ligus. And they were eating my crop and I didn't have anything that would eat them. So I needed to start, you know, using habitat to create for beneficial insects, like ladybugs, like lacewings, like, you know, so predatory, good bugs, beneficial. So I became just sort of farming for benefits, which OSU has the model for as well. And I learned from that. So I've changed my model to be able to do it. It was kind of self-serving because I wanted to produce the seed. But in the meantime, I'm creating even more habitat for them.

Speaker 1: It's just on that last point and we should take I will take a break in a minute. It's fascinating. So when you were dealing with the ligus bug, can you just maybe outline the strategy? How were you able to bring the benefits in more effectively, not just this edge habitat, but.

Speaker 2: What, how did I, I have no idea. All I knew is I went from, I had a seed lot that had, instead of an 80% germination rate, it had a one. And I went, okay, what's going on? And I went out and I started looking around and I saw these bugs on the flowers and the seed. And then I had them identified by OSU, thank you very much. And it was, it's a predatory seed bug that's found in alfalfa crops.

Don't ask me how I got there. And, you know, there's softer chemistry insecticides, but I tortured over having to actually use insecticides because I don't, obviously, that seems a bit antithetical to what we're trying to do. And again, I just kept, I tried to leave more strips up, especially for, because they need that overwintering habitat.

So I just started to kind of manipulate how I did the production with that in mind. So, you know, the same thing with your, you're doing it in a garden, you know, leaving up plants, not taking everything down to the ground. I just learned about bumblebees, queen bumblebees overwintering in the leaf litter. And so they say, keep it dirty. And every time I hear somebody blowing leaves now or raking in the yard, I'm like, no, no, the queen bumblebees are under there. So it's all education. And even to this day, I'm learning what type of habitat works best for all these different diversity of insects.

Speaker 1: It does remind me we had an episode a while back. You know how Shay?

Speaker 2: Yes. So I'll sign on Al for years. Or I can garden days.

Speaker 1: How had this saying, he said, if you're going to do pollinator habitat, do a small bit, but keep an eye on things and learn from it rather than like go out and do an acre, do something small, but pay attention. And it seems like that's been a real way that you've been able to learn how to grow 100 different plants.

Speaker 2: Yes. And the same in the restorations. When we went to when we, when we ran before we walked, then you have too much to maintain and you can't make good observations. So yeah, starting small. And it also makes it less intimidating because you can actually realize, wow, I can have success at this. And you'll see your successes rather than your failures. And, and that's just much more joyful and makes you want to just do more of it.

Speaker 1: Well, let's take a quick break. We'll come back and we have a few more questions. Okay, we are back. So I think lots of people are ready to sort of go out and I'm inspired just listening to you at the beginning of going out and try and get some native plants into my garden. So tell us about some native annuals and perennials that work well in gardens that help pollinators. What are some of your favorite plants?

Speaker 2: Well, I'm just going to take you on a tour of my garden. And what I think is really interesting, we were talking about earlier before we started the show was that I live in West Salem in the oldest part of West Salem in the flats, where there is no wild land around me.

There's nothing, the Willamette River is down the road, but that's about it. And I started with a complete clean slate. There was Arpovitas when we bought the house and lawn. And of course, those immediately went away and we dug out every inch of turf.

Well, not quite. There's a little in the front yard. And luckily, we grow native plants. And so I was able to pretty much incorporate things from our production area that we had in production. And so I don't have favors, but I'll tell you what I have and sort of give you an idea of ways to structure it.

So there are buttercups that work really well. I tried to structure it like any garden. I want early blooming, all the way to late blooming.

So we have both species of camis, which actually are out there. I have two species of buttercups, one blooms earlier, and one blooms later. Oregon geranium is a wonderful, wonderful plant, great for bumblebees.

Speaker 1: It really is. It's sort of like not on any list, but every time

Speaker 2: I see them, there's full of bees. And it's so pretty. And it just has a very long bloom period and it'll, you could actually deadhead it. And that'll just keep blooming. I'll do that because I don't want geranium all over the yard.

So I just keep clipping it back. And so that works well, all the checker mallows. So we have two of our, we have a tall checker bloom and a rose checker mallow, yarrow. You know, people give Yarrow a bad name, you know, they are always too invasive or whatever. It's like, plants are only invasive in your yard if you let them be.

So again, you just keep everything in check. But again, you can, it blooms, you give it water, and it blooms all summer long. A lot of things in the carrot family attract pollinators that are non-b bee pollinators because they have a very closed flower structure. So you're going to get more beetles and other species.

So again, a diversity of flower types, sink foil, and large leaf avans. I mean, this thing can be a weed. Again, people, oh, why don't I want that in my yard? Because it's a weed. Again, keep it in its place. But if you could cut, if every time you deadhead it, it sends up another stalk and I have it blooming all the way into August. Really?

Yeah, with water, it does just fine. I've got it, then I tried to add some later bloomers like our goldenrod, and our house aster. Annuals, of course, need space.

So you've got to kind of keep a place for them. And I have a farewell to spring, the native one, not the ornamental one. There's a Cichlarchia, Gilea, blue Gilea. Popcorn flower is really good if you can find the space. Oh, and my favorite, is Limnanthus, a glyceae, which is called a poached egg plant. And it attracts, I lost count of how many pollinators it had on it, including Carpe beetles. I was like, what are those? They're Carpet beetles. And then because I learned about Queen Bumblebees, I made sure I got some Mahonia, some in there for very early flowering shrubs, and even Elphagrine Huckleberry. So it has pollinators and it makes fruit for us. And what are my favorites? They're all my favorites. I don't have one. So I would just recommend that just buy them and plant them. And you'll figure it out.

Speaker 1: Okay, that's the next question is like, you run into people, including myself, who are kind of a little bit terrified of native plants. It seems a little bit more complicated. Even we did a seed packet using Heritage seedlings seeds last year with Oregon Flora. We gave them a lot of promotional events and we had a nice, plant bees in the fall. Is this going to be tricky? Don't plant them right now. So what are some of the tricks to kind of getting by? I heard you say just try them.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And actually, the best trick for gardeners is no trick at all. It's a garden. You just treat the natives like you would treat any other plant. And so if you know how to structure a garden, you know how to incorporate the natives, learn about their stature, learn about their seed habits, their bloom times, and there's lots and lots of information on a lot of different websites, including our own, as far as the plant characteristics. So put your tall checker bloom in the back and some Oregon geranium towards the center, along with some native grasses if you want. Towards the front, you can put some slim-leaf onion, which is just a nice border plant.

You can put some annuals in a rock garden. So again, using stuff you already know as a gardener makes it, again, much less intimidating. They're just a plant. And just because it's just like any other plant, if it doesn't work, it goes away.

Or you call it or you deadhead it or you just adjust. My garden looks absolutely nothing like it did even seven years ago five years ago or forever year. It looks different. I think one important point for people who that want to incorporate Willamette Valley native plants is it's got a very short bloom period. If you only did Willamette, if you're a purist, you know, native plant Nazi, whatever you want to call it, you know, you can't be in a garden if you want it to look nice.

So I always encourage people to incorporate the later blooming species that are a lot of our Midwestern natives like Echinacea and Rybacchia. You know, it just, you're not trying to restore a native habitat. You're trying to provide resources for pollinators. And especially in our urban and suburban settings, those pollinators need as much help as you can give them. So extending that bloom period to really incorporate long-lasting things that bloom into August, I think is a win-win.

Speaker 1: I know we have another Oregon like Ship Farm Grower, Michael Laughlin, who we have to get on one of these episodes. I think he had bumblebees flying into November. He would post pictures like there were still, you know, these later blooms can be really important, especially for social species trying to bulk up for winter.

Speaker 2: Definitely, definitely. So yeah, just, you know, again, just treat it like a garden and learn from it and enjoy it and just take pictures and just take pictures. It is so cool. I took, I had this, the meto foam I took, I must have had eight different things. Bees, wasps, beetles, eight. That is amazing. One plant. It was like, and a plant my husband likes too. He just likes like, oh, that's so pretty, honey. And he's noticing a native plant. So that's, that's a brilliant step up.

Speaker 1: I'm not going to tell you. Okay, one last question I have for you. I know I've run into this question. I remember we had a, had a call from somebody down in Yahuats who wanted to put in the meadow. And meadows seem, and I've seen everybody's golf course superintendents want to put a meadow in and it seems tricky. I've seen some bad examples of it, or it doesn't go as well as easy as they imagine. What are some of the tricks to getting meadows established? Patience.

Speaker 2: Well, there are lots of methods, but so you can decide, are you going to start with seed or are you going to start with plants? And it's the same, it's kind of like a mini restoration project. So if you're starting with seed, the one thing that people have to realize is seeds take time and they need space and they need resources.

So it has to be clean. So you need to get rid of all of the existing, if you want to start from scratch, if you're trying to install a meadow into something that already has native habitat or native plants, then you're going to have to say have to use plants. You're going to augment what you have. But if you want to start from scratch, you need to remove all the existing vegetation somehow, some way, whether that's a sod cutter to do it in a lawn or solarization, making sure it gets super hot if it's a small plot, do it right. Or you can just use short-term use of herbicides like glyphosate.

It can be your friend, it doesn't have to be your enemy if you use it appropriately. And just what you're trying to do is use it at the best timing to stop the weed seed bank from increasing because you want it to be as clean as possible for a season or two. And then you could either sow both grasses and flowers together.

We have mixes with both. That gets a kind of a range-y wild look and that might be fine for like the back 40. If you wanted to be a little bit more garden-y like, you could do like your grasses in a drift or drifts. I mean, again, your design structure could be anything.

Speaker 3: Oh, a drift? It's a standard design methodology where you'll put certain types of plants in wavy rows. And so you can like put your grasses in the background and then you can put your flowers in the foreground so that you just have this kind of canvas.

It's almost like painting on a canvas. And then you could do the flowers in the front. Now, if you want to start with plants, if you want a more tailored garden look, you'd want to start with plants. But again, prepping it is really important. Make sure the soil is good.

It's well prepped for planting. You can plant your plugs. Again, any design you want, you can go crazy or you can plant in a more formal structure, mulching your plantings. You can even do seed in between the plantings if you've got bare soil. Oh, something that people always ask me is, do I need to amend the soil? Native soils are native soil. So even if you had, say, a lawn and you just sprayed out the lawn for a season, you can sew right on top of it. You know, everything would love if you put some nice compost on it, but you don't have to go to that extent. Okay. Prairie species are typically more xeric or even music, so they don't need a rich, rich soil base. So that works just fine.

Speaker 1: I've heard people say that one of the, one thing that people, a mistake people do is they don't see dense enough. They're a little bit sparse as a sea. Is there any truth to that?

Speaker 2: Well, actually, sewing rates are funny. People often look at our sewing rates and will have them. Oh, this is what's important about seed mix. I do want to plug in a few retailers that we work with.

Speaker 3: Is that okay? Yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah, over the years, I've been so excited. We now have three retailers that we work with that you can buy small seed packets from. And so I get their names right. So up in Portland, there's a company called Pro Time Lawn Seed. They do ornamentals and natives on their website.

Speaker 1: And we should say, Pro Time was on a previous episode. So you could take a listen to Dawn from Pro Time.

Speaker 2: Oh, yeah, she bought the company. Darlene was her buyer and she came to, I saw her at a native seed conference once and she goes, oh, we really want to get real, real wildflower species because they had ornamentals. So Dawn was so supportive.

They bought the company a few years ago and she's been buying our mixes and they came on a tour of our seed production area. It was great. Okay, great plug. Well, Lambit Wildings and Eugene, and she does both individual species and she's just started with the seed mixes. Oh, fantastic.

And then Klamath, Sisku, native seeds in Medford. Oh, really? Yep, she's just, she's brand new. She's only been doing it for a couple of years. And again, she's just trying more and more and more stuff. So she's a dunes liner and also does the seeds.

Speaker 1: Great, all the way down from south

Speaker 2: to the, to the, to the Columbia. So I was really excited about that. Okay, great. So back to your question. Oh, yeah, seeding rate. Oh, seeding rate. Yeah. And so they'll look at the seed packets and it'll say like, the funny thing, I'll get like landscape or saccharin. They're like, well, what do you mean you only seed this is 10 pounds per acre?

You know, our specs are usually like 60 pounds per acre. I'm like, well, that's ryegrass. And you're trying to make a lawn. So there's a fine, what you're looking for is seeds per foot. So how many seeds do you want to land in that square foot to make a plant? So if the site's pretty clean, you can see that actually as low as like 12 to 24 seeds per foot, if there's just no competition, and you'll get a plant about every four inches. Well, that makes a meadow. So that's, that's an appropriate sewing rate, but you always have to look at the seeds per pound that translate into seeds per foot.

So that's what's important. So, and the risk of under-seeding, yes, are more weeds coming up, but the risk of over-seeding is literally making a native lawn that's so dense, you don't get good flowering. So, and it's site-specific, it's soil-specific, but yeah, I've actually done the native lawn and I get no flowers. Really poor flowering.

Speaker 1: That's a really great tip. Yeah. All right, we have a couple of questions we ask all our guests. If you don't mind, I'm gonna, I'm gonna pummel you with these three questions. I'm ready. All right, let's take a break. Okay, we are back with three questions. Book recommendation. Is there a book that you want our listeners to know about?

Speaker 2: Can I list two books? You can. Oh, I can't. Good. Well, any other, other guests may have done this, but attracting native pollinators, which is by the Cersei Society, but it just gives really good basic information, but it's also not regionally specific. It's, so I would say for our regional specific, it's called the Meadowscaping Handbook.

Speaker 1: Oh, from West, West Montenoma.

Speaker 2: West Montenoma Soil and Water Conservation District. They've just released an updated version and I think it's, you could just order it from their website, but it's really nice. It's user-friendly. It just shows simple designs and it's our plans for the Willamette Valley.

Speaker 1: It's nice as well. There are lots of pictures. It's really kind of, even for someone like me, who doesn't know what they're doing. You can really envision what we're talking about.

Speaker 2: It's super, super accessible. Yeah. So I mean, I'd even start with that. And then if you decide to go for Cersei's one, but I think that's really nice. And I'm so grateful that they came up with that one.

Speaker 1: Fantastic recommendation. Okay. So recommendations. We'll post those on the show notes. So the next question I have is, do you have a go-to tool for the kind of work that you do?

Speaker 2: I didn't know at first how to answer that. I was like, well, that's really interesting. And I have to say it is observation. observation and documentation. And I do that in my work, obviously, I do that at home. I do that, I do that everywhere. It's just what I like to do. But what it allows you to do is, is learn and learn how to adapt.

You can figure out what works, what doesn't work, and what you want to adjust. And it just brings me joy. I mean, it is, I love, I absolutely love just being able to sit there and look at a plant and watch everything that comes to it.

I mean, I am so psyched into this whole pollinator thing right now, because it's like, look at those bugs. This is so cool. And so I find it humbling. It really does. And it makes me really want to keep working at what we're doing.

Speaker 1: You know what I find really impressive about the way that you approach this as well as it's also practical. So there is this kind of like keeping track of who's coming and what they're doing. But it also kind of translates and bends back into sort of like, Oh, how am I going to plant this differently this year? I think it's really amazing.

Speaker 2: Yeah, there's always it's called adaptive management strategy in the restoration world. But it's the same as your backyard. I mean, your whole, you know, a garden is just adapting to what, oh, that's getting too big. We're going to move that. Let's try that. Oh, that'll look better over there. And the plants are very forgiving. They don't mind being moved. Fantastic.

Speaker 1: So the last question that I know you've got been developing an eye and you've been seeing these pollinators, is there anyone one of them that's sort of like, okay, you just enrolled your eyes at me? This is a common answer. Everybody's like, which one? What are you trying to do with me? I love them all. Is there anybody who comes to mind that you just, oh, I love that little critter?

Speaker 2: I would have to say Douglas's Meadowfoam, which is the poached egg plant. And it's not a sign of where we get it. Bosky Dell natives. And I got it from a friend. She just dug up plants and gave me some.

And now it's all over my yard and I'm collecting seed and I'm giving it to friends. Because it's just an annual. And it's just, again, it was this, how many different species can be on one plant? Another annual, though, that's really nice, although my husband thinks it's stinky.

Oh, well, rosy plytritis. Again, I don't know where you would buy it on a retail market, but it attracts butterflies, bees, and different bees. And so those are the couple of annuals that I like.

The perennials, obviously the chekermallows. And what's nice about them is, again, they even attract hummingbirds, which I thought was really neat. It's like, it's an open flower too.

I don't know why they like it, but they do. And I know this is going to sound strange, but cow parsnip. And it's the right plant, the right place.

If you had a woodland or a ditch or a back 40. And the reason is I documented again, multiple, multiple pollinators. A lot of nonbee pollinators use it because it has a closed flower structure. So I guess just looking for things that just attract a really wide diversity of pollinators, I think are really nice.

Speaker 1: Well, thanks for taking time on your busy date. I'd imagine this time of year is busy. People are starting to think about their gardens. Thanks for taking the time to meet with us. And I'm looking forward to taking these ideas and putting them in my garden.

Speaker 2: Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Speaker 1: Thanks so much for listening. Show notes with information discussed in each episode can be found at pollinationpodcast.oregonstate.edu. We'd also love to hear from you, and there are several ways to connect. For one, you can visit our website to post an episode-specific comment, suggest a future guest or topic, or ask a question that could be featured in a future episode. You can also email us at [email protected] Finally, you can tweet questions or comments or join our Facebook or Instagram communities. Just look us up at OSU Pollinator Health. If you like the show, consider letting iTunes know by leaving us a review or rating.

It makes us more visible, which helps others discover pollination. See you next week.

Lynda Boyer was hired in 2001 by Heritage Seedlings to facilitate restoration of native habitats on nursery properties and manage a native seed production program. Heritage Seedlings now grows over 120 species of native Willamette Valley wildflowers, grasses, and sedges on 35 acres for commercial seed that is used on restoration sites in the Willamette Valley. In addition, Lynda manages the restoration and maintenance of over 300 acres of oak, prairie, and riparian habitat on Heritage properties.

Listen in to learn how Heritage Seedlings aids in restoration sites and pollinator health as a Flagship Farm, and the best native plants for your garden.

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“We have around 560 native prairie plant species, and the majority of them also have pollinator species that utilize both for flowering resources and for cover.” – Lynda Boyer

Show Notes:

  • The diversity and abundance of native plant communities around Oregon
  • How Heritage Farms and other seed growers found plant material to start their productions
  • Why retailers and others often don’t bother with developing the array of seedlings that seed growers do
  • Where Lynda believes Heritage Seedlings success comes from and why
  • How Lynda has dealt with pests and potential problems with her productions
  • Lynda’s advice on which native plants to use for your garden and how to maintain them
  • How to establish a meadow on your land
  • How to get past the complexities of seeding rate for your seedlings

“It’s all education, and even to this day I’m learning what type of habitat works best for all these different diversity of insects.” – Lynda Boyer

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