Pollinator Highway

“We’ve planted a pollinator highway along the sunny fence line of this rural property. In this design, bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds enjoy a buffet of flowers and ornamental grasses from early summer into fall. Once established, this perennial border will require little maintenance and supplemental water to grow and bloom beautifully.”—Susan Martin, Midwest Region Garden Design Expert


Many people are gardening in the country and keeping chickens. This design shows how to use a fence line on their property to create a pollinator highway. In this design, there is a barn in the background with a wooden fence leading up to it. A five-foot deep bed lines the perimeter of the fence. A buffet of perennials are placed along this highway to please pollinators’ palates.

The feast begins in early summer as the creamy yellow flowers of Creme Brulee begin to open. These flowers are in it for the long haul. Expect them to form bushy clumps of finely textured, green foliage covered with cheerful blossoms all the way through the summer months and into early fall. Pollinating bees and butterflies enjoy their pollen and songbirds will feast on their seeds.

Shortly after Creme Brulee begins, tall, pinky purple spikes carrying tubular flowers appear on ‘Prairie Twilight’ Beard Tongue. These are a favorite of hummingbirds to poke their long, narrow beaks into the blooms to drink the sweet nectar. Their vertical shape contrasts perfectly with the rounded mound of Creme Brulee Tickseed.

Two blue-flowered perennials enter the scene as the summer heat settles in. ‘Peachie’s Pick’ Stoke’s Aster blooms prolifically with large, flat-topped blossoms. Their shape creates an ideal landing pad for butterflies. You’ll often find bees working them over, working hard to collect their nutritious pollen. At the same time, ‘Blue Fortune’ Anise Hyssop will begin to bloom along the fence line. This large plant makes an ideal backdrop for shorter perennials like Creme Brulee and ‘Peachie’s Pick’. It attracts a whole host of pollinators and makes a good cut flower, too.

Low maintenance ornamental grasses like ‘Heavy Metal’ Switch Grass are ideal for using in designs like this one because they are extremely durable and look better every year as they grow and mature. Birds enjoy their seed panicles which appear in late summer and fall. They also appreciate the shelter the grasses provide when they are left standing through winter.



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Seasons of Interest

Early Spring

Weeks of Interest

16 Weeks