Featured Favorite: Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Crouched amongst an oasis of native wildflowers, Trees Forever Field Coordinator Barb Grabner-Kerns waits with camera in hand as a fast, lone bee circles a wild geranium. The bee zigs and zags, pausing for mere milliseconds.


SNAP! Barb’s finger hits the shutter button, but she’s a millisecond too late; the bee is just too fast.


 SNAP! Too late again. The bee is hidden by a light pink petal. Barb shifts so the bee is in sight—only for the bee to fly outside the view of her macro lens. Wait! The bee is back to collect more yellow from the geranium’s delicate anther.


SNAP! That’s the shot she had been hoping to get for the past two years.


“I think my neighbors think I’m nuts because I’m always out taking picture of the pollinators,” Barb says as she reflects on her hobby of photographing the nature on her own property.

As a Trees Forever field coordinator, Barb tells people all the time about how pollinators—such as the little bee she stalked—are responsible for one third of the food humans eat. More and more, natural ecosystems are being replaced by turf lawns and foreign plants—leaving many pollinators without a home or food.


“I try to preach to people to buy the native plants because that’s how you get more pollinators!” Barb said.


When she first moved to Taylorville, Illinois, four years ago, she had a few honey bees frequent an old apple tree in her yard for a few weeks during the spring, but otherwise, her yard was free of butterflies, bees and other insects beneficial to society.


As Barb settled into her new home, she created homes for thousands of pollinators by planting a variety of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers.


“It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but you just have to plant the right plants,” Barb advises.

Now her little prairie wonderland provides a year-round bed and breakfast for more species than she can count.


“I love the beauty of it, but I want to make my yard home for all of these pollinators!” Barb said. “I need to have flowers blooming all times of the growing season, and group the same kind of plants together so that the pollinators don’t have to work so hard to collect pollen and nectar.”


Since May is national wildflower month, Barb was tasked with the challenge of picking a favorite, but it’s hard when there are so many candidates.


In the end, she refused.


“It’s like trying to pick out your favorite child,” she laughs.



wild geranium (geranium maculatum)