A space for butterflies and bees

May 16, 2009 at 12:25 pm Leave a comment

bee balm

Thoughts of sustainability drive many of my actions at home. Living on the west coast cultivated a keen appreciation for nature and responsible environmental stewardship. Our move to Calgary from Vancouver Island was a bit disheartening in this respect. There is a wholly different culture here in terms of care and consciousness about natural spaces and human impacts. That said, we’re doing what we can to tread lightly and inspire others by creating garden spaces that show how beautiful sustainability can be.

We’re fortunate to live in a mature, inner city neighbourhood. This means large trees, established gardens and an interesting mix of residential architecture. And also a small but ever-present population of small animals and birds wandering, hopping and chirping their way around the neighbourhood. All this week we’ve watched robins and finches gathering up twigs and plant debris from our garden to build their nests; the squirrels amuse us with acrobatics as they run up and down the fence, house and garage. Even the local rabbits (who are so very intent on mowing down all that is tender and tasty) are a welcome sight and are helping us combat what Michael Pollan calls the ‘disease of human self-importance’.

One thing I’ve been reading a lot about lately is the importance of pollinators. While I would love to try bee-keeping someday, it’s not really possible in our tiny yard and my far too busy life. So for now I’m focused on creating a more inviting space for passing bees and butterflies. The idea of creating meadows not lawns put forward by Dennis vanEngelsdorp resonates strongly. We planted a patch of purple coneflowers, blanketflowers and black-eyed susans last year. In addition to attracting butterflies and bees, these are also drought-tolerant plants native to our area. I purchased bergamot (also called bee balm) seeds about 8 weeks ago and have been carefully nurturing the seedlings since then. The seeds were quite easy to germinate, and from what I’ve read they should be ideal in the garden in terms of being reasonably quick growers and also good propogators. I don’t think anyone who’s experienced the harsh Calgary weather minds when tough plants with beautiful flowers that like to spread. I also like the fact that it’s an edible flowerYarrow is another pollinator-friendly flower on the “to plant” list. My parents have some beautiful deep pink yarrow in their garden, so I’m hoping to take a transplant from their yard this week or next. Hopefully this won’t prove too challenging – I know it’s a drought-tolerant plant with a deep taproot.

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Entry filed under: Eco, Gardening, Home, Life, Making, Perennial flowers. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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