Our Story

Our Mission

St. Julian’s Crossing Wildlife Habitat is dedicated to educating about pollinators, their conservation, and the urban wildscapes supporting them. Did you know, for example, that there are around 4,000 species of native bees in North America (and that the Honey Bee is not one of them)? Or that most native bees are solitary nesters, not forming hives like Honey Bees? Or that some bees and wasps are no bigger than a tiny fly? Don’t worry: neither did we before we began this amazing gardening adventure! St. Julian’s Crossing exists to share this kind of fascinating and useful information about our native pollinators.

Our Story

St. Julian’s Crossing began in the spring of 2014, after our home gardens in Houston, Texas had succumbed to drought.  Despite lacking gardening experience, we were determined our gardens would support pollinators while conserving water.  And so we selected flowering, drought-tolerant plants‒whatever looked pretty to us.

But few pollinators visited.

We knew we needed help.  And that’s when we connected with naturalists to learn how to adapt our gardens to support wildlife‒like how using native plants best supports the wildlife that has evolved with them, and how pesticides kill the very insects that can keep gardens pest-free naturally.  As we learned, our plant choices and gardening techniques changed‒increasing the garden’s wildlife exponentially! As of spring 2019, we have observed 48 species of butterfly, around 30 species each of bee and wasp, and many other pollinators and wildlife in our home’s modest gardens. It’s true that if you build it, they will come!

Our gardens are now a Certified Wildlife Habitat (National Wildlife Federation), a Certified Butterfly Garden (North American Butterfly Association), and a Monarch Waystation (Monarch Watch, Waystation No. 10925). We adopted the name “St. Julian’s Crossing Wildlife Habitat” for our home gardens in honor of St. Julian the Hospitaller, the patron saint of travelers and innkeepers, because Monarch Butterflies travel through the “inn” of our gardens on their migration. Virtually every plant in our gardens provides food or shelter for insects, birds, lizards, etc. But our focus is on insects that pollinate: bees, butterflies, moths . . . even flies, wasps, bugs, and beetles! We want to support pollinators because they face many significant challenges to their survival. And because nearly a third of our food requires pollination to grow, pollinators’ survival helps us, too!

Our Methods

Gardening for pollinators isn’t hard, but it requires changing how we garden.  Here’s some of what we do to make St. Julian’s Crossing Wildlife Habitat safe and supportive for pollinators:

  • We favor native plants (about 75% of our plants now) because they are better for pollinators, need less maintenance, and work better in our climate.
  • We don’t use pesticides or herbicides.
  • We feed plants with compost and organic fertilizers.
  • We leave some bare ground for bees to dig their nests in. This is also why we don’t mulch these areas.
  • We don’t mow every week because mowing scares away wildlife, removes flowers and ground cover, and pollutes.
  • We leave dead stems until spring because tiny bees may use them for nests and winter cover.
  • We use fallen leaves in the garden beds instead of mulch because some wildlife uses them for winter cover.
  • We have some plants that bloom in each season, so that pollinators never go hungry.
  • We choose some plants for pollen and nectar and others for leaves that feed caterpillars (host plants).

Our Hope

We hope that what you see at St. Julian’s Crossing Wildlife Habitat inspires you to start pollinator-friendly gardens at your own home! The great thing about pollinator gardening is its flexibility. It can be as simple as just a small garden bed filled with native plants. It can be as complex as multiple beds filled with a wide variety of plants to benefit multiple pollinator species. But whatever form your garden takes, and no matter its size or complexity, it can make a real difference for our diminishing pollinator populations.

Thank you for visiting St. Julian’s Crossing Wildlife Habitat, and we hope that you enjoy your visit!