Without bees, butterflies and other pollinators, we would not enjoy many foods such as potatoes, broccoli, blueberries, squash, almonds and cocoa. Our farmers markets would be bare. These hard-working insects help pollinate more than 75 percent of plants and crops.
But 40 percent of all pollinator species are threatened with extinction.
We need pollinators.
A pollinator meadow, such as the one planned at the Government Center, will help with survival rates of hundreds of pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees and butterflies.
“A lawn does nothing to support our native insects,” said Suzy Foster, a county landscape architect. “It’s basically a desert to the insects, so by putting in native plants, we’re turning an acre of desert into an acre of living habitat that will support bees, butterflies and other pollinators.”
You can help, too, even if you do not have a large meadow! A window box or small planting can help pollinators thrive and survive.
As we embark on planting our pollinator meadow, what can you do on the land you live — single family home, business, apartment, homeowner association — to promote and welcome pollinators? We offer these four simple tips:
Direct or partial sunlight is best, along with being removed or protected from wind. Have a bird bath or other water source nearby.
Native plants are the best. Here are some resources:
- Plant NoVa Natives, a regional effort to help you find the best type of flower or plant for our area.
- Plant a Window Box for Pollinators
- Green Spring Gardens will host its annual big plant sale on May 14.
Start small and expand if you have a large area to work with. If you have a small patio or balcony, try one window box or potted plant this year; add more next year.
Include an assortment of sizes, shapes, colors, heights and growth patterns for blooms in spring, summer and fall.
The meadow covers about one acre of land on the grounds of the Government Center near the ellipse in the rear of the building.
Photos from our May 12 planting session:
Besides the obvious pluses for pollinators, there are other benefits:
- One acre less of grass to mow on a regular basis.
- This acre of conversion will eliminate over five pounds of nitrogen from entering the Chesapeake Bay at a cost of $6,800/lb.
- The conversion from lawn to unmowed meadow earns us credits toward the state mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit.
Across the county as improvements are made to stormwater facilities, from mowed basins to stream corridors, native plants are part of the restoration. In 2015 approximately 271 acres and 2,700 linear feet of stream were restored with native plants.
Learn more in this video: