2021 WGW Pollinators
By Averil Fessenden
Here we are in a tantalizing time of year, with the light and warmth on the upswing, foretelling gardening season. Yet cold days and nights, brown and dull colors coming into sight as the snow disappears are with us as winter wanes. What better way to tame our eagerness for the coming season, than to learn about creating a colorful and useful pollinator garden. What is a pollinator garden? It is a garden designed and planted with specific nectar and pollen producing plants in a way that attracts pollinating insects. Dev Culver, coordinator of the Common Good Garden, offered a workshop on how to build and maintain pollinator spaces as part of the Winter Garden Workshops: Growing Literacy series put on annually by BTLT and Curtis Memorial Library. View the workshop webinar here.
Much of our plant food, – nuts, fruits and vegetables, and many flowers depend on pollination to reproduce. Insects – bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and even ants do this essential job. They are in decline due to our hotter, drier climate, loss of natural habitat, and pesticides. We depend on these insects and thus can’t survive without them. Creating gardens and landscapes to attract and feed them is one way to maintain or increase their populations. These are colorful gardens as color is a main feature that attracts insects to particular flowers. In this virtual show we saw beautiful photos of a variety of pollinator gardens and many of their insect pollinators.
Dev offered 8 tips for creating a pollinator garden or landscape. He suggested using native plants as they provide shelter, and food for native wildlife species, and they are well suited to local soils and conditions. Natives don’t require fertilization, and promote biodiversity and ecosystem health. Fortunately there are many native plants that thrive and bloom through the growing season, see a list by bloom month here in Dev’s presentation slides. Native plants like lots of sun, so planting in open spaces is best. Insects are most attracted when plants of the same kind are planted in groups or bunches. Provide a water source, such as a birdbath with rocks in it. And we were reminded that developing a pollinator garden to its full potential takes time – a few years in fact.
Dev told his audience that The Tom Settlemire Community Garden had a busy and successful summer in 2020. The Common Good part of the garden yielded 4,000 pounds of vegetables for Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program with the help of 23 volunteers – both new highs. Volunteers under the leadership of Ellen Maling also have planted hundreds of perennials that will be available for purchase in the BTLT plant sale on June 5 at Topsham Fair Grounds Exhibition Hall.
Pollinator Gardening was a workshop in Growing Literacy, the winter gardening series that is sponsored jointly by BTLT and Curtis Memorial Library. This collaboration is supported by Camden National Bank – we extend our appreciation. Working together, Local Business, Library and Land Trust make a valuable contribution to our community.