As we begin to put our gardens to bed for the winter we begin to reflect on what went right and what went wrong this growing season. Did we meet our expectations? What should we do differently next year? What one goal should we set ourselves for next spring?
At the St. Dunstan’s demonstration gardens in Ellsworth, 134 State St., across the street from the Bryant Moore Senior Center, we are somewhat optimistic. These biodiverse gardens were created two years ago in partnership with the Master Gardener Program at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service and the Ellsworth Garden Club.
These gardens are to serve as community demonstration gardens planted with many native perennials and shrubs that attract and support the bees, butterflies and birds throughout our growing season. These pollinators, vitally important “workhorses” of our environment, are facing growing extinction at an alarming rate. Habitat loss caused by humans is the number one cause of the Earth’s known biodiversity crisis.
We have purposely and carefully chosen perennial native plants and shrubs, including clethra, winterberry, chokeberry, high-bush blueberry and bayberry, that are known for their ability to attract beneficial insects. All plants are identified with labels listing common and Latin names. There are a few non-natives, a Sargent crabapple and enkianthus, known for their attractiveness to songbirds.
We have seen dramatic changes from what we have planted. The bees, birds and butterflies prospered in the catmint, bee balm, purple coneflowers and swamp milkweed.
Our long-established mindsets of squishing every crawling insect noticed in the garden have to change. All have a role to play. Our job as gardeners is to know that the natural process is to let Mother Nature take over and leave insecticides, pesticides and herbicides out of the garden.
Next spring we will add two smaller biodiverse gardens facing the street. We invite you to join us in this effort by adding a pot, window box or garden in your yards.