Talkin’ bout the birds and the bees…


Laurel Ace Hardware garden team member Miguel Ruiz, left, appears recently with Lisa Ratusz of the Our Water Our World program through the Alameda County Clean Water program. Ratusz taught visitors about integrated pest management and helped with pollinator-friendly gardening tips. Laurel Ace Hardware staff held a pollinator event earlier this fall.

MONTCLARION: November 16, 2018

We’ve always been a one-pet family. But these days we have dozens of birds to add to our brood — wrens, sparrows, jays and dark-eyed juncos — all feeding at our seed stations. Anna’s hummingbirds sip from our Dollar Store nectar bottle. Nuthatches balance on the wire basket, binging on peanut butter suet. And I sit inside with my field guide, logging bird varieties as I sip my morning coffee. Often my cat will lay blissfully on my lap, as if watching a reality show.

And yet, so much more can be done. Think of a garden buzzing with not only birds but smaller-winged creatures like honey bees and butterflies. They need love too and a safe habitat to thrive. Michelle Leopold suggests planting pollinators this winter. Leopold is the “mom” in the mom-and-pop Laurel Ace Hardware, where staff held a pollinator event earlier this fall.

“My main message is — now is the time to plant winter-blooming flowers for bees and other pollinators, to ensure food for over the winter.” Sage, lavender, rosemary, snapdragons, stock and calendula are all great pollinators, she says, adding that almost everything will be 20 percent off for the store’s holiday customer appreciation night from 7 to 8 p.m. Nov. 29.

Oakland hills gardener extraordinaire Wendy Tokuda has some other ideas for showy native plants that are pollinators: Foothill Penstemon, Penstemon heterophyllus (bright electric blue), Native California Fuchsia, all the Salvias, Pacific Aster, California Poppies, Lupines, Monkey Flower and Coyote Mint. She says another non-showy native shrub that bees go nuts for is Coffee Berry.

If you want to see a pollinator garden and even a bee hotel, visit The Gardens at Lake Merritt. Started by Tori Rocha, the park’s director and founder of the Pollinator Posse, the garden has native and tropical milkweed for butterflies, their eggs and caterpillars. Check out tips on pollinating at

Around town: Mountain Mike’s Pizza has game. In fact, I’m told they can get most, if not all, NFL games on their many big-screen TVs that rim the restaurant. They also sell local craft beer and wine and slices of pizza or whole pies.

Click-and-mortar: Former Montclair merchants Mike Silverman (of the store What the Traveller Saw) and Alesha Patel (of the store Hatch) have started an online shopping portal for local brick-and-mortar stores, including their own popular shops. I am Local — —already has several shops you’ll recognize, including Montclair Optical, Rhythm Bikes, Someone’s in the Kitchen, Pelago, Flavors Indian Bistro, Toyhouse, Glamour Paws, Flower Outlet & Gifts and others. Mike says they use geo-location technology to match customers to the closest store that has their desired item, letting folks choose same-day pickup, shipping or delivery. Think of them, he says, “as the Amazon for small business.”

Be sure to follow Ginny Prior on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Got news Contact Ginny at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s