by Lynn Ovenden
There are 3 raised beds at the edge of FWG’s old field between the butterfly meadow and the old woods. Together, they contain 18 species of native wildflowers that were planted in the boxes in spring 2017 by UOttawa students as part of a community outreach project supported by Friends of the Earth Canada. Sandy Garland propagated the plants and built the boxes with help from the students and her son Mark. The goal was to show how a variety of wild plants could be grown in a small area and still attract bees.
The garden thrived and you can still find all 18 species in the boxes five years later. The Nodding Onion, Water Avens, Prairie Smoke, Virginia Clematis and Tall Cinquefoil have persisted exactly where they were initially planted. Some species, like Heart-leaved Aster, Wild Bergamot, Beebalm and Black-eyed Susan have greatly expanded their range. A few species might have disappeared but for reinforcements from the nursery, notably Common Milkweed, Grey Goldenrod, Pearly Everlasting, Figwort, Great Blue Lobelia. You can see how the arrangement of all these wildflowers has shifted over the years since their original placement in 2017.
As you’d expect, other plants enter the boxes each year. I remove the maple tree and dog-strangling vine seedlings, grass, fleabane, wild carrot and bladder campion that come up. I’ve recently added a few seedlings of Blue-eyed Grass, Rough Goldenrod, and Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint. Great St. John’s Wort and a Bebb’s Willow became established all on their own.
And what of the pollinators? Certainly, one can see a variety of bees, wasps, beetles and flies at the pollinator garden. Even at noon on a recent 30ºC day, when most insects would have retreated to shade, a friendly entomologist found a Cabbage White butterfly, a bumble bee, 4 types of flies (syrphid, tachinid, longlegged), Japanese beetles, an Asian lady beetle, and a short-horned grasshopper on plants in the boxes.
The 3 raised beds required 3 yards soil and the following materials which cost about $350 in 2017: 9 2x10s, 6 grooved 2x4s, 2 wire panels, 12 pieces of 2-foot rebar, and landscape cloth. They were built with support from TD Canada Trust.