By this time, you’re most likely aware of the plight of the pollinators (bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, and other creatures that fertilize one-third of this country’s food crops while flying from plant to plant), whose habitats and populations have been decimated by development, parasites, and pesticides. But maybe you’re not exactly sure what you—and your Denver garden—can do about it.

Turns out, even the smallest pollinator-friendly garden can help increase species diversity across urban and suburban landscapes. This spring and summer, the National Pollinator Garden Network is spreading that message via its Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, an initiative designed to help people create more pollinator habitats by providing plant lists, hand-outs, lesson plans, training guides, and more. The goal: to reach 1 million registered “bee-friendly” gardens by National Pollinator Week, June 18–24. (Currently, there are about 700,000 registered pollinator gardens nationwide, with 419 in Denver, and 1,600 in the greater Denver area.)

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to add your garden to the list. Any habitat of any size counts, from a window box or garden plot to a golf course or school garden, so long as it meets these criteria:

  • Use plants that provide nectar and pollen sources.
  • Provide a water source.
  • Be situated in sunny areas with wind breaks.
  • Create large “pollinator targets” of native or non-invasive plants.
  • Establish continuous bloom throughout the growing season.
  • Eliminate or minimize the impact of pesticides.

Not sure what to plant? You can grab a packet of Bee Groceries, created by Carbondale-based contractor Bob Bailey, and get planting. Or, for a more personalized look, choose a mix of these spring and summer bloomers that are guaranteed to catch a pollinator’s eye (and yours!)