Pollinators in your garden
We hope that the Clyde Bee & Butterfly Patch has inspired you to garden for pollinators, too!
The number of species and the number of pollinators are in decline. This matters because pollinators and the plant species they depend on are key elements in so many natural cycles. A substantial proportion of the food we eat depends on pollinators as do most wild flowering plants. Butterflies and moths depend on flowers, and birds, in turn, depend heavily on their caterpillars.
Biodiversity matters! We can all help by replacing even a small part of our lawns with flowering plants or replacing some common ornamental plants with native plants. Perennial flowering plants have much deeper roots than lawn grass, improving the soil and storing more carbon.
Why native plants? Many plants you already have in your garden will supply nectar and pollen to some bees and butterflies even if they are not native plants. The thing is that many species of native bees and other pollinators can’t make use of them or do not get as much nourishment as they need from them since they didn’t evolve with them. Planting plants that are native to our region will help conserve those insects.
You don’t need a lot of space. Whether an enormous garden or small balcony, you can help pollinators. One garden may have tall grasses for birds and butterflies, the next some native flowers, while another may provide water or a wood pile for shelter. A balcony can have pots of anise hyssop, wild geranium or dwarf asters that local insects can visit.
By supporting pollinators and growing the plants they depend on, we help ourselves and create a healthier ecosystem for all living organisms.
For information about the Patch, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a lot of good information available online and in your local library.
TIPS & RESOURCES
Here is the list of the plants in the Clyde Bee & Butterfly Patch, a dry, sandy site in full sun.
Since it is fall, here is how to put your garden to bed the pollinator friendly way, courtesy of Pollination Guelph.
Over the winter, plan your own pollinator patch. The Ottawa Seed Library has some quick tips and a wealth of linked websites. It also has a list of plants for beginners. David Suzuki Foundation also has a list of native pollinator plants and butterflies for eastern Canada. For design help view the slide show Just Do It: Beginner Native Plant Garden Design for Urban Ottawa, by Berit Erikson, the maker of the Corner Pollinator Garden, corner of Sherbourne and Fraser.
Wild Pollinator Partners is an excellent website started by Ottawa’s Friends of the Fletcher Wildlife Garden where you can find a wealth of information. There is a list of pollinator gardens in Ottawa, links to all kinds of how-to information including about gardening for pollinators and making bee houses, and information about the pollinators themselves and where you can find plants or seeds.
The Canadian Wildlife Federation has been encouraging gardening for wildlife for at least 25 years.
The Pollinator Partnership has been active since 1997 and has a North America-wide presence. One of their publications related to our region: Selecting plants for pollinators: a guide for gardeners, farmers, and land managers in the St. Lawrence Lowlands region.
Heather Holm Learn about pollinating insects with this expert. Here is an interview with her, mostly for listening but with pictures of different pollinating insects, and a great table she put together on Native Perennials for Pollinators.