Trial Pollinator Pathway Garden
Food for butterflies and bees - eye candy for us!
A riot of colors is eye candy for us ...
... and a haven for bees and butterflies ...
... where pollen sticks to their legs and is carried to nearby flowers, leading to creation of seeds.
Come see! So many flowering varieties to enjoy.
Plants were watered only once, when planted.
Weeds and drought were a constant challenge ...
By John Florian
In season, the butterflies are flittering and the bees buzzing about a favorite spot below Stratford’s Lordship Bluffs – a delight for us to see, as well.
It’s the Trial Sustainable Pollinator Pathway Garden etched out of the trailside greenery in the spring of 2022, and maintained by Lordship Improvement Association (LIA) Environmental Committee members Christine Griffin, Hans Drenkard, Leona May and Lynn Frederick Casey.
To see it: At the foot of Laurel Street, cross Park Boulevard and the Bluff’s lawn, and go down the stairs toward Russian Beach. On the sandy path to your left is the kaleidoscope of vivid flower blossoms, butterfly wings and hopping bees.
This garden is a companion to the LIA’s nearby Captain Kidd’s Garden, an established and popular hangout for Monarch butterflies and bees on the Bluffs at the foot of Lordship Road.
VITAL POLLINATOR PATHWAY
Lordship is in the migratory flight path of many species.
When pollinators - butterflies and bees - alight on blossoms to feed, the flowers’ pollen sticks to their legs. Then as the butterflies and bees hop to new blossoms, the pollen spreads, leading to creation of seeds for the next generation of those flowers.
“Without pollinators, we can’t feed ourselves,” according to Pollinator Pathway, a national movement that cites sharp declines of butterfly and bee populations. “Pollination enables the plants in our yards, parks, farms and orchards to reproduce.”
Begun in Seattle in 2007, the all-volunteer project’s regional roots are in Wilton, CT, which since 2017 has spread the concept to more than 200 towns in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania - and now, to Lordship.
In Lordship, Christine adds: “We have lost about 67 percent of some world species, mostly due to habitat loss. But little things we do in our gardens help us sustain what we have.”
SPREADING VISUAL JOY
In season, the flowers also spread visual joy to those who walk – not fly – to the garden.
Among the bloomers that Christine and crew have packed in are aster, cat mint, spiderwort, blackberry, lantana, lupine, Joe-Pye weed, California poppies, feverfew, white yarrow, Rosa Rugosa, coreopsis, salvia (black, blue and red), nepeta, blue cranesbill, liatris, zinnias and more – backed by a field of fragrant honeysuckle.
The 14 new england asters were donated by the Cox family, and others donated seeds.
And you can’t miss the bees circling and landing on nearby clusters of beach goldenrod.
A TRIAL, SUSTAINABLE GARDEN
Why call it a “trial” garden? And “sustainable”?
“We only watered the day we planted,” Christine explains. “The rest of the time it was up to nature – and as you know, we experienced drought. That’s why it is a trial garden, to see if what we were doing could sustain a variety of wildlife – pollinators, mammals and birds - without our interference. We never watered again.”
CAN YOU DIG IT?
While successful and rewarding, the Lordship project was a tough row to hoe. Literally.
In early spring, Christine sketched out the garden layout (see earlier article and photos). And the crew dug in.
“Even though I used a cultivator, I’m sure I missed roots, so weeding will continue – even if some weeds are annuals and tuck themselves into perennials,” Christine said at the time.
Indeed, invasive Virginia creepers, bindweed, poke berry, tree of heaven, mugwort, spiderwort - and poison ivy! – rushed in. And watch out for ticks!
Christine waded into it all with high boots.
Hans roped in the lengthy plot, capping wooden posts with explanatory Pollinator Pathway signs. And a border of large stones brought up from the beach by Christine, her grandson and LIA helpers helped keep weeds out.
Another challenge: plants killed by wind and drought.
Nevertheless, by early fall the garden was a vibrantly colorful treasure for all to enjoy.
“We’d hoped our little effort could make a difference regardless of our climate,” Christine says. “And I think we succeeded in a small way, keeping a balance and maintaining habitats.
“While planting and weeding there I’ve received many positive comments,” Christine says. “That keeps my spirits up.”
The fascinating garden keeps our spirits up, as well.
SEE ALSO: The LIA Environmental Committee’s Field Guide.
Volunteer! Enjoy meeting and working with your neighbors to enhance and preserve Lordship’s beauty. Say hello at LordshipIA@gmail.com.
Photos by John Florian, Christine Griffin and Hans Drenkard.
... but the colorful garden thrived into autumn.
Bees hop to goldenrod at the beach nearby ...
... as a visitor watches the garden grow.