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Pollinator Week June 16th -22nd

St Thomas has been declared a BEE-CITY. Welcome to Pollinator Week!

Join us for a week of Blog posts and stories from the Forest and our natural ecosystems where we can connect with nature to learn, grow, and heal. By connecting with nature we can heal the Earth, and heal Ourselves.

The Power of Nature Connection in Becoming a Better Pollinator-Friendly Gardener
June 16, 2024 by Ashley Park

In today's fast-paced world, the simple act of connecting with nature can have profound effects on our awareness and understanding of the intricate relationships between native pollinators and the plants that support them. As stewards of the natural world, it is essential for gardeners to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the vital role that pollinators play in sustaining ecosystems and the importance of planting native species to provide essential resources for these beneficial insects. By immersing ourselves in the beauty and complexity of the natural world, we can enhance our awareness of native pollinators and the plants that rely on them.

Observing Pollinator Behavior:

Connecting with nature allows us to observe and appreciate the fascinating behaviors of native pollinators in our gardens. From the intricate dance of solitary bees collecting nectar and pollen, the intelligent ways a caterpillar is witnessed cocooned in a leaf, to graceful flight patterns of butterflies flitting from flower to flower, these interactions provide valuable insights into the life cycles and foraging habits of different pollinator species. By giving permission for our attention to land with the specific preferences of native pollinators, we can better understand the types of plants that attract and support them. This leads to more informed plant choices when co-creating our own pollinator-friendly spaces. 

What you may begin to notice in observation are the many ways pollinators use these plants. Flowers for pollen and nectar is just one of the many ways our pollinators make use of native plants for survival. We begin to notice webbing on your pearly everlasting as the caterpillars create a web-like nest that doesn’t look nice. Not only will this not hurt the plant but will have fed a generation of American Lady Butterflies! I’m always amazed by the bumblebees sipping from the pools of water on our Haskaps after the rain and just the shear number of pollinators that have appeared as we continue to add native plants to our property. 

Learning About Plant-Pollinator Relationships:

Native pollinators have evolved complex relationships with native plants, relying on specific flower shapes, colors, and scents as cues for locating food sources. By immersing ourselves in nature and observing these intricate plant-pollinator interactions, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the coevolutionary adaptations that have shaped these partnerships over time. Understanding the type of flowers that different pollinators are attracted to and the benefits they provide for each other enhances our ability to design gardens that cater to the needs of both parties. Did you know that according to science, bees are most attracted to purples, violets, and blues? I have also become very aware of just how many pollinators surround the native coneflowers but seem to ignore their cultivator cousins. This became  very apparent to me last summer sitting in the garden and watching the red/yellow/orange coneflowers that have been designed to behave and stay shorter with more blooms appearing to be void of visitors while the native echinacea, grey headed coneflowers were swarming with life. 

Supporting Biodiversity Through Native Plantings:

Native plants are essential for supporting native pollinators, providing them with the nectar, pollen, and shelter they need to thrive. By incorporating a diverse range of native plant species in our gardens, we not only attract a variety of pollinators but also contribute to the conservation of local biodiversity. Connecting with nature and learning about the native plants that are best suited to our region helps us create sustainable habitats that benefit both pollinators and other wildlife. As consumers we need to be aware that our local plant nurseries are in the business for profits and are not always knowledgeable of what our regions native plants are, they even have plants labeled as native that are not in our region. This leads consumers to plant non-native plants.  I’ll be sharing more each day about where to find native plants, where to look-up what is native in our region, and how to identify invasive plants to avoid planting them. 

Encouraging Conservation Efforts:

Connecting with nature fosters a sense of stewardship and responsibility for protecting native pollinators and their plant partners. By deepening our awareness of the threats facing pollinator populations, such as habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change, we are inspired to take action to support conservation efforts in our own communities. Through advocacy, education, and habitat restoration initiatives, we can make a meaningful difference in preserving the delicate balance between pollinators and the plants that sustain them. 

 The act of connecting with nature offers a powerful pathway to enhancing our awareness of native pollinators and the plants that depend on them. By immersing ourselves in the beauty and diversity of the natural world, we can deepen our understanding of the complex web of relationships that exist between pollinators and native plants. Through thoughtful observation, learning, and action, we can become more informed and engaged gardeners, committed to creating pollinator-friendly habitats that nurture and support these essential components of local ecosystems. Let us embrace the transformative potential of nature connection and cultivate a profound appreciation for the interconnectedness of all living things in our gardens and beyond.

This is just the beginning. Join me all week as we look deeper into our connection with nature and the positive impacts we can have on pollinators just by getting out and participating in connecting and exploring our local flora.

Elgin Pollinator Team

Did you know you can join a community of pollinator-friendly neighbours? 

Right now we are just on facebook and looking to expand. We are building momentum! Whether you just want to join to learn from some of our local experts or want to get your hands dirty and volunteer, come join us! 

I will begin this journey by acknowledging that I am exploring on aboriginal land that has been inhabited by Indigenous peoples from the beginning. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and thank all the generations of people who have taken care of this land - for thousands of years.

I acknowledge the aboriginal peoples who, the Anishinaabek (Ah-nish-in-a-bek), Haudenosaunee (Ho-den-no-show-nee), Lūnaapéewak (Len-ahpay- wuk) and Attawandaron (Add-a-won-da-run, who have been the guardians of this traditional territory now covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. We recognize and deeply appreciate their historic connection to this place. We also recognize the contributions that the Indigenous peoples have made, both in shaping and strengthening this community in particular, and our province and country as a whole.

As settlers, this recognition of the contributions and historic importance of Indigenous peoples must also be clearly and overtly connected to our collective commitment to make the promise and the challenge of Truth and Reconciliation real in our communities, and in particular to bring justice for murdered and missing indigenous women and girls across our country.