green team initiative
Easter is upon us. The time of Joy and renewal.
It’s getting warmer and we are all itching to get out to our gardens. Flowers are appearing - crocus, daffodils, hyacinths.
With them come the pollinators. All types of bees, butterflies and moths, wasps, beetles, flies and hummingbirds.
Earth Day Challenge: Start Creating a garden that attracts pollinators
You are probably aware that the Monarch butterfly populations have decreased by about 95%; honey bees by 45.5%; bumblebees are down 90%; even some hummingbird species are on the decline. The causes are the usual litany: loss of habitat, loss of wildflower areas, climate change, pesticides, etc.
Keep in mind that pollinators are vital for the reproduction of over 75% of food crops and flowering plants including coffee and most fruits.
What we can do is set up small sanctuaries in our own yards for these beleaguered pollinators. All we need is a sunny area, native flowers, a water source and, if possible, a tolerance for weeds.
Native flowers usually require much less care and water than imported ones. For pollinators, it is best to plant the flowers in bunches rather than spread them around. The colour blotch is easier to see than the individual flower. They prefer red, yellow and blue.
The best water source for butterflies is a shallow container with sand in it. Just get the sand wet. Birdbaths are great for birds, but not insects. You don’t want to drown the pollinators!
Regarding the weeds: Dandelion, Queen Anne’s Lace (wild carrot), clover and Milkweed are great friends for the Monarchs. These are all wonderful food sources for pollinators. Go with your tolerance. If you can’t stand the weeds on the lawn, think of making a small wild garden in a sunny, sheltered corner.
Advice from the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory:
Choose a variety of native perennials that have different blooming seasons. You can always plant annuals to fill in any blooming gaps.
SPRING BLOOMERS Rockcress, Allium, Globe Thistle and Lupine
EARLY SUMMER BLOOMERS Centurea, Bee balm, Liatris and Sweet William
LATE SUMMER BLOOMERS Black-eyed Susan, Milkweed, Phlox and Boneset
FALL BLOOMERS Aster, Sedum, Goldenrod, Borage and Joe Pye Weed
Late-blooming nectar plants are especially important for the migratory generation of Monarchs.
Annuals like Cosmos, Zinnias, Sunflowers, petunias, pansies, marigolds, lantana, bee balm, and more, are good for planting with your perennials. Just remember to watch the colours.
If you have a herb garden, think of planting celery, coriander, dill, fennel and parsley.
Not only will you be helping the ecosystem, you can also have the pleasure of watching these interesting pollinators go about their work.
Did you know?
“There is no simple rule of thumb to tell the difference between butterflies and moths. Butterflies often feed during the day, and most moths feed at night, though there are exceptions. Butterflies must land on flowers to feed, while many moths are able to flutter before a flower while feeding.” HGTV