June 22-28 is National Pollinator Week. This yearly observance, started in 2006 through the efforts of the United States Senate, recognizes “the importance of pollinators to our ecosystem health and agriculture.” Through the last 14 years, more people have become aware of the services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, beetles, moths, and other wildlife, and are finding ways to get involved.
Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), along with the villages of Galena and Sunbury, invite you to a free virtual pollinator gardening workshop via Zoom on Tuesday, June 23, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The featured speaker is Marci Lininger, district environmental coordinator with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) at the Delaware office. She has years of experience in wildlife research, endangered species, transportation ecology, and landscape habitat restoration. She also serves as the strategic projects coordinator for the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (www.ophi.info).
In addition to Lininger, Galena’s certification as a Bee City USA (www.galenaohio.gov/bee-city-usa) will be highlighted by local residents and Bee City Committee members Bob Molter and Lorie Armbruster. In 2019, Galena created a native pollinator garden on the village square, complete with educational signage, joining more than a hundred other cities and campuses across the country united in improving their landscapes for pollinators.
According to the Pollinator Partnership, pollinators are responsible for a great deal of a healthy human diet. Plant products that are pollinator-dependent to set their fruit and give us food provide nearly all the essential nutrients we need to thrive. In return, consider accommodating bees, birds, butterflies, beetles, moths, and others by providing nectar, pollen, water, nesting and resting sites, and food for their offspring. Usually, we focus on eye-catching flowering plants but native grasses, trees, and shrubs are also important components to pollinator habitat. Native plants are recommended because they are better adapted to the local growing conditions, meaning they need less of your money, sweat, and time to grow into healthy mature plants.
Native plants are not only a banquet for pollinators, they have other amazing attributes:
• Due to their deeper and more extensive root systems, native plants are excellent at preventing soil erosion. Reducing erosion means less soil in our streams and rivers, which in turn keeps our rivers, lakes, and streams clearer, cleaner, and healthier for aquatic wildlife that live in them.
• Their roots create open space in the soil and allow rainfall to percolate deep into the ground.
• Once established, they don’t need fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or supplemental water to flourish.
• Their aboveground growth helps filter pollutants and nutrients in surface runoff from rainfall and snowmelt.
To see how spectacular native plants roots can be, visit https://youtu.be/f5Ko2wF6Du8. This 1:20 minute video shows the work of Dr. Jerry Glover, agricultural ecologist, on display at the U.S. Botanic Garden in 2015. Most of these plants have belowground growth that exceeds their aboveground growth!
Delaware SWCD recently received funds from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to purchase native plants and plant labels for our conservation area on the Delaware County Fairgrounds. This grant will enhance the extensive work begun last year to transform the area into a pollinator garden. Sixteen new plugs will be transplanted soon and include cardinal flower, butterfly weed, obedient plant, boneset, thin-leaved mountain mint, pink turtlehead, green coneflower, and big bluestem.
The fairgrounds are open to visitors and are the site of this year’s farmers’ market so please feel free to stop by to see our “work in progress.” Whether you are an expert or beginner at pollinators and plants, an outstanding resource is www.nwf.org/nativeplantfinder. You can search by zip code to discover native plants (flowers, trees, shrubs, and grasses) and butterflies suited to your site. The website is a project of the US. Forest Service, National Wildlife Federation, and University of Delaware.
To join Galena, Sunbury, and Delaware SWCD for the virtual pollinator gardening workshop on Tuesday, June 23, please register by emailing Erin Wolfe, outreach coordinator for Delaware SWCD, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting our website for the Zoom registration link.
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to https://soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us/.