Meet Helen Yoest, our newest garden contributor who will teach us all about the benefits of growing pollinating plants aka the ones that feed the bees, birds, and butterflies.

Helen Yoest

Yoest has authored three books about gardening, Gardening with Confidence, Plants with Benefits, and Good Berry Bad Berry. She’s also a noted blogger and is the director of Bee Better a non-profit, 501(c) 3 that’s all about building better backyards for birds, bees, and butterflies. And now to hear from Yoest herself about her garden passions!

It seems there are as many kinds of gardeners as there are gardens. The individual gardener’s stamp is what makes a garden his or her own. That’s why seeing other people’s gardens and learning from fellow gardeners is so much fun. I look forward to sharing my experiences each month.

My stamp is about the plants for birds, bees, and butterflies and knowing research specifics. For example, did you know the flowers of Cercis canadensis, Eastern Redbud, are edible and the leaves are the host plant for the Henry’s Elfin butterfly plus 18 other caterpillars that feed baby birds during their rearing season? Redbuds are also excellent nectar and pollen sources for the honeybee.

When I select a perennial or shrub, I search the culture needs and benefits beyond sun or shade or summer, spring, fall, or winter interest. I want to know what wildlife will benefit from my plantings.

Did you know the Dieunomia heteropoda, the largest sweat bee in the eastern United States co-evolved with the cup plant, Silphium sp.? [Silphium perfoliatum] Each relies on the other for food and pollination. Or that Milkweed, Asclepias sp., is not only the sole host plant for the Monarch butterfly but also the only host plant for the Queen butterfly?

When sharing benefits from certain plants, we’ll also share tips on protecting your home from, say, carpenter bees, Xylocopa virginica, at the same time protecting the environment. While I’m all about saving the bees, I put my property first; and safe practices will always override fear reactions.

I may digress some and talk about my girls. I have nine hens that live in a coop I dubbed, Tiny Tara. Each of my girls is named after a character from Gone With The Wind. Did you know ticks are like candy to chickens?

Let’s have fun with this, and learn more about plants with benefits!

WATCH: 5 Awful Weeds with the Grumpy Gardener

Ready to start your butterfly and honeybee haven garden? Keep an eye out for these pesky weeds that could get in the way of your garden success.