Let Your Garden Go to Seeds and Weeds to Feed the Bees
Let's talk about nourishing bees, butterflies and birds—and ultimately yourself. Don’t mow the lawn too soon, let our beloved pollinators do their jobs.
It’s good news for pollinators that America’s fixation with “the perfect lawn” has somewhat eased in many places over time. Somewhere along the way, one of those national beliefs kicked into gear that if you want your property to look tidy you must manicure it to perfection. To have a less than manicured front lawn put you at risk of being judged lazy, irresponsible or even a deadbeat. You may be condemned by neighbors, or fined by your home-owners association or the city in an urban area.
It's important to know local regulations before taking the plunge. If you fear neighborly wrath, or a fine for "letting your property go," you may wish to create your native wildflower garden in your back yard. To raise neighborhood interest, you might place a small sign in your front garden that reads, “Pollinator Paradise in Progress” and invite people to view it and discuss pollination with you.
How did we get to this point? True, the scent of freshly cut grass is a joy to inhale. But it also means that there is less food in the form of nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators.
This 5:30-minute long video is extremely insightful in describing the two types of wildflower meadows you can plant, annual or perennial. It offers some excellent advice before creating a wildflower meadow on your property. It also shows the stunning beauty of a natural wildflower garden that you can look forward to:
The past decade has seen a spike in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) where more than 10 million beehives around the world have been decimated. This resulted in the loss of 40% of all the honeybee hives that existed only 5 years ago. Monarch butterflies that overwinter in the forests of Mexico have declined 90% in the past twenty years.
These alarming statistics have humanity revisiting the well being of our pollinators, since they play a vital role in our ecosystems and pollinate many of our global food crops. We have pollinators to thank for at least one-third of our foods and three-quarters of global agricultural crops.
The simple truth is that we need pollinators and pollinators need us to stop altering their world. Our fates overlap and are interconnected. The best part is that this is easy for us to rectify. Just let flowers in your fields and the edges of your lawns go to seed. This alone, which takes no effort on your part, allows you to say you are actively helping honeybees and various butterflies, moths and birds. Choose native plants and let such flowers as black-eyed susans, milkweed and daisies live their natural cycle a little longer into the growing season. This produces a huge benefit that costs you little or nothing.
Or if you’re willing to put a little more into it, how about shrinking the “lawn” a little bit and letting the edges revert completely to the wild? Then cut it all late in the season so it has provided sustenance for pollinators throughout the season.
There is an added gift for you in your generosity, as you smell the wildflowers on a late summer day, sitting on your terrace and watching the bees and butterflies enjoy the bounty you have made possible… as birds collect the seeds… and you know that these creatures will, in turn, play a role in providing the foods you later consume.
These are the simple pleasures in life. This nod to nature is a win-win situation where local bees and other pollinators thrive and so do we as we share the natural world and honor each other. We feel contentment from this simple act of kindness as we share the abundance it creates.
A rich garden vibrant with life is a beautiful place of refuge. Is yours? If not, you can decide to make it so!
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