“If you build it, they will come.” Remember this line from the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams?
Well, this is what we at The Garden Club of Toronto (GCT) know about pollinators! These special creatures, like bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, bats and birds, will visit the new garden at Metropolitan United -- if we provide the right plants. These important insects and animals pollinate one third of the food we eat. That’s how important these little critters are to our survival. Knowing that, many gardeners are moving away from plantings that don’t provide benefit to pollinators and, instead, are planting species that will make these human and environmental helpers thrive.
It’s so fun to watch the pollen-spreading creatures show up, almost immediately, and start doing their thing. Have you ever seen a bumble bee up close? Did you know that you can see little orange or yellow pockets on their “hips”, which they keep loading with pollen? When you have gardens like the ones that are coming to both sides of the entrance of the church, you’re sure to see these cute critters filling their pollen sacs. In the meantime, though, as they fly from one flower to another, they’re spreading pollen. We need this fertilization to keep growing more flowers, fruits and vegetables. Besides bees, other creatures do this job, too – like butterflies.
Seeing a monarch or swallow tail butterfly feeding is beautiful. It really is a gift. Watching birds pick seeds out of plants for their meal can be hypnotic and relaxing. It takes us out of ourselves and into the simultaneously simple and complex lives of these creatures. They give us so much.
Met’s front pollinator garden, filled with pollen, nectar, seeds, berries and nesting materials, will also be something very unique. It will be made up of only native plants – or plants that naturally grow and thrive in this region. This is quite rare in city plantings. When we use native species, the plants are happy. They don’t have to struggle against factors that make it hard to survive. Even more, the plants don’t become invasive, which endangers the ecosystem, crowding out beneficial plants. There are not many completely native gardens in Toronto – but Metropolitan United will have one!
We’re so excited to introduce you to some of the plants and pollinators you can expect to see in the garden. Over the next while, we’ll write about them. Even better, we’ll be having a workshop where you can grow plants from seed for this very special project. Stay tuned! Don't forget to join Friends of Met's Gardens to see how you can help out in the near future.