Friday, September 16, 2022

A HOME FOR POLLINATORS

 

A monarch caterpillar on milkweed in the new meadow.

The world is an increasingly unfriendly place for butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other pollinating species. Climate change, the encroachment of humans into previously wild spaces, and the choice of lawns, exotic or invasive species of plants, and pesticides for our gardens means there are fewer wildflowers and native plant sources for them to forage. 

 

I've always tried to use pollinator-friendly practices in my garden. I don't use pesticides; I've planted bee balm, echinacea, mint and other attractive plants in my flower garden; and I've added plenty of white clover to my lawn for the bees.

 

But this year, my husband and I decided to go a little further. We have a steep slope in front of our house that we'd always left in weeds because it was difficult to mow or weed-eat. Nothing very helpful to wild things was coming up there, though I had scattered wildflower seeds and even deliberately planted some ironweed (which did well). So, with the help of a friend who is a forester from the U.S. Park Service, we killed off all the trash weeds on the slope (not an easy process) and planted a mix of about 15 native wildflower perennials in the spring. 

 

The makeover was not without problems. We had a lot of new and exotic weeds come up first. The straw used to cover the seeds was supposed to be weed-free, but turned out to be full of alfalfa and timothy, which had to be cut down. We had to do some watering, but we were lucky to have a wet summer. So, now we're seeing brown-eyed susan, mist flower, several kinds of milkweed, woodland sunflower, wild senna and other things we planted make an appearance. The ironweed is spreading like crazy (a sign, our friend says, of good soil PH). And, best of all, we found the little guy you see above--a now-rare monarch caterpillar--at home on a milkweed leaf in our new meadow. Success!

 

After a winter of frosty temperatures, which we're told some seeds require, we should see even more things pop out. I can't wait to see what the coming seasons bring!

 

Cheers,

Donna

1 comment:

  1. Good for you. Wildflower meadows are necessary - and a great way to use hard to maintain ground. A hope the Monarch caterpillar survives.

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