Native Plants and Insects

“I thought native plants were weeds.” “Such an informative and inspiring presentation!” “I don’t want golden rod in my gardens as it causes hay fever.” “After listening to Lorraine’s presentation, I intend to get some native plants for my garden.”

These are a few of the comments that were heard following Lorraine Johnson’s presentation at the May meeting of the Tweed and District Horticultural Society. Lorraine is a writer, editor and advocate for the natural world.  Her presentation provided practical information about how to create a welcoming habitat for bees, butterflies and birds. She also explained the truth behind several age-old myths about native plants. 

According to Lorraine, a biodiverse landscape is the cornerstone of any garden. In terms of native plants in a garden, it is important to plant a diversity of native species that will provide a succession of continuous blooms from spring to fall. The garden should also include a variety of flower colours and shapes and plant heights arranged in groups of 4-5 plants. 

It was interesting to learn that there are generalist and specialist native bees. The specialist bees have a relationship with certain plants. Generalist bees on the other hand do not have such a relationship. To encourage a certain type of bee to the garden, one needs to plant a variety of native plants that will attract the specialist bees. The top native plants that support specialist bees are goldenrod, sunflowers, coneflowers and asters. 

Butterflies and birds need a welcoming habitat to survive. A garden needs to contain host plants that will support the larva of the different butterflies. And 96% of the birds in North America rear their young on insects found in our gardens!

Simple ways to help support a welcoming environment for bees, butterflies and birds…. reduce the amount of lawn, have areas that are pesticide free, plant diverse flowering species in gardens and under trees, add logs and branches to the garden to create a “stumpery” and leave the leaves as many insects overwinter in them, for example the swallowtail butterfly overwinters as chrysalises in leaf piles. 

Lorraine and Sheila Colla’s book, A Garden for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee, is an excellent resource for native plants that will help to create a welcoming habitat for native pollinators in Ontario. This resource contains garden designs for residential gardens, community gardens and even a balcony, photos and descriptions of native plants and the pollinators they support and the relationship between native plants and pollinators….an informative guide for all gardeners. 

As Lorriane says, it is up to us to be “pollinator protectors” in our gardens.

PLANT SALE…Saturday May 18 @ 8:00 am at Tweed Memorial Park

MEETING  June 4 @ 7 pm Tweed Public Library. 

Colin Cassin, Policy Manager at Ontario’s Invasive Species Centre will share information about the prevalence of Jumping Worms in Ontario. He will provide suggestions about what we can do to avoid damage by this invasive species on our properties

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