Wildlife- and Pollinator-Friendly Gardening

Written by Denise Deby.

Great spangled fritillary on common milkweed butterfly speyeria cybele. Credit: Dr. Thomas G. Barnes/USFWS http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_spangled_fritillary_on_common_milkweed_butterfly_speyeria_cybele.jpg
Great spangled fritillary on common milkweed butterfly speyeria cybele. Credit: Dr Thomas G Barnes/USFWS. Via Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_spangled_fritillary_on_common_milkweed_butterfly_speyeria_cybele.jpg

If you have a garden, you can create a space that nurtures pollinators and other earth-friendly insects. If you don’t have a garden but have a bit of outdoor space, you can still offer habitat to butterflies, bees, birds and other important species.

Where to start? Well, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden is a great resource. Located just south of the Arboretum off Prince of Wales Drive (across from the Experimental Farm), the Fletcher Wildlife Garden is a wonderful place to walk around. With several habitats including a meadow, wooded areas, fields and a ravine, the six-hectare site also has an interpretive centre and a demonstration backyard garden where you can learn about native plants and find out which will suit your garden. (It’s open Sunday afternoons from May through October.) There’s also lots of information, and inspiring photos, on FWG’s website.

Even better, this Saturday, June 7, 2014, Fletcher is holding its Annual Native Plant Sale from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They’ll be selling a variety of wildflowers and offering information on gardening for butterflies, building a backyard pond and other neat stuff. (Among the plants for sale is milkweed, a hard-to-source native plant that’s an essential food for the caterpillars of monarch butterflies, whose numbers were in decline last year.)

For inspiration, people are also welcome at the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s demonstration garden in Kanata. Various sections of the garden–a Bird Bed, a Pond Bed, Shade Beds, a Pollinator Bed and a Bog Bed, for example–are home to specific trees, shrubs, perennials and other plant species. You can pop by for a visit, call in advance or check out the garden maps and plant lists on CWF’s website, which has other great resources for wildlife-friendly gardening (e.g. planting tips, a database of native species, a native plants suppliers’ list and links to other gardeners).

It’s important that we preserve large areas of natural habitat in the city, but planting even a few native plants can make a difference to local wildlife and ecosystems, too.

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