Two local organizations are joining the nationwide effort to help reverse the decline of pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The New Castle Garden Club and Craig Valley DAR are part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, which encourages the use of sustainable gardening practices and conservation efforts. Over 202,000 sites have been registered across America and Canada since late 1990.
Pollinator species such as bees, butterflies, moths, a variety of insects, as well as some species of birds and bats, have suffered a serious decline in numbers in recent years. The causes are varied but include loss of habitat, the use of pesticides, pathogens and more. The loss of reliable food sources and safe places to reproduce translates into loss of population. While the decline of any species and the subsequent impact on our ecosystems is always a concern, it is noted that pollinators are responsible for one-third of our food supply and that makes their decline an issue of national importance.
Garden Club president Lee Greiser recently spoke to members of Craig Valley DAR about changing our landscaping practices to encourage pollinating insects and animals in our yards and gardens. Brush piles, patches of tall grass, and vacant bird houses provide shelter and resting areas. Allowing leaf debris to remain in gardens after summer’s end provides shelter for overwintering larva. Plants which are native to our area thrive without extra fertilizer and harmful chemicals. Plants with bright yellow and red blooms sowed in mass plantings will attract attention. Late blooming varieties will feed hummers and butterflies as they migrate. Plant varieties which provide nectar or pollen include hyssop, bee balm, rudbekia, and salvias. Host plants offer protection and food for larval stages such as milkweed, parsley, and spirea bushes.
Lee also explained to the DAR group about the work done by New Castle Garden Club last year around the Hawkins Cabin on Court Street. The garden there is part of Monarch Watch and plans are underway to add milkweed, butterfly weed, and bee balm to attract more Monarch butterflies to the area. The national DAR organization encourages us to “BEE patriotic, Plant a Pollinator Garden!”
-Submitted by Diane Givens