In recent years there has been a growing re-interest in pollinator plants and wildlife habitat gardens--really, the very basis of our natural world! Rather than lament the reasons why this focus has been lost or forgotten by so many for so long, I'd rather celebrate the fact that there is a renewed attention to the importance of cultivating these beneficial environments. There's really no difficulty or downside to including plants that attract birds, bees and butterflies, so why not do it?
One of the most common misconceptions I hear all the time is a basic confusion between bees and the predatory wasps commonly known as "yellow jackets." Many people tell me they don't want "bees" around, especially when they are dining outside. However those pesky stinging insects that want to eat the meat on your plate are not bees and they do not carry pollen. These are wasps and are will not be attracted by any of the flowers in your garden.
Bees, on the other hand are the ones that find your flowers. And we need bees to pollinate the planet! It's crucial for the production of many essential crops (like almonds, for one) and is of increasing concern due to a decline in bee populations. (For more on this topic, read what the Environmental Protectional Agency has to say.)
Even if environmental issues aren't your top priority there are still so many reasons to consider these kinds of plantings for your garden. For one, they are beautiful! You don't have to compromise aesthetics or your design vision for your environment in order to include these beneficial plants. There are a wide variety of options in almost every imaginable size, shape and color--from trees to ground covers.
Besides visual beauty, another reason to consider planting a wildlife-friendly garden is the added life you will have in your garden. Whether you live in an urban environment or a suburban development, having the sounds and activities of birds in your outdoor space creates an immediate richness of experience.
Even though I actively work to create these kinds of environments, I'm still always amazed and in awe when I see them in action. How simply adding the right plants to an area immediately transforms a lifeless and inert space into a buzzing, humming, colorful paradise!