GANSEVOORT — Sue Edwards has spent years nurturing a lush, vibrant garden of an assortment of colorful flowers and bucolic plants at her Clifton Park home.
But in recent planting seasons, Edwards has moved away from eye-catching flowers, opting instead for much less eye-catching native plants in hopes of attracting pollinators and benefiting the environment.
“I’m trying to attract butterflies,” said Edwards, who just bought some goldenrod and Joe-Pye seedlings with the help of her goddaughter, Kristina Vedder from Malta, who encouraged her. start looking for native plants. years ago.
The couple were among dozens of people who descended on the former Oligny Garden Center along Wilton-Gansevoort Road on Sunday for Pollinator Palooza: The first event of its kind organized by Sustainable Saratoga to raise awareness of the plight of pollinators and the important role native plants play in the ecosystem.
The non-profit organization spent months growing around 1,500 plant plugs – ranging from milkweed to nodding onion and mountain mint – which it planned to sell during a five-year window. hours starting at 10 a.m. had sold.
The event’s success came as an unexpected but hopeful surprise to organizer Chris Burghart, a Ballston Spa resident who joined Sustainable Saratoga after the organization created a pollinator committee a few months ago.
“It’s hard to get the word out,” she said.
Pollinators have declined in recent years, a problem attributable to a number of factors including climate change, pesticides and the spread of invasive species that have choked out native plant life, leaving the insects that depend on them for dead.
A 2017 study by the Center for Biological Diversity found that more than half of the 1,437 bee species found in North America are in decline, and 1 in 4 of those species are threatened with extinction. Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture estimates that bees are responsible for $15 billion in harvest value each year and that their decline is causing problems for the ecosystem.
But the problem goes beyond the bees. Butterflies and beetles are also in decline.
“Without pollinators, we don’t eat – it’s as simple as that – and, right now, large numbers of pollinators are dying,” wrote Sonny Ramaswamay, the former director of the National Institute of Food and of agriculture, in a 2017 article.
But Burghart said people can help turn the tide by taking small but effective steps, including eliminating harmful pesticides and fertilizers from their gardens and incorporating native plants with pollinators, including butterflies, beetles and hummingbirds, feed.
Sustainable Saratoga also worked this year to raise awareness of “No Mow May,” a growing movement where people don’t mow their lawns for the entire month of May so pollinators can feed on things like dandelions and other species. plants that bloom in the early spring months.
“That’s why native plants are so important, because insects can’t eat so many foreign plants,” Burghart said. “So many plants that are pretty to us don’t support the ecosystem.”
Elsewhere, Saratoga resident Jerry Wanapun browsed the dwindling selection of plants available for sale. She has been gardening for two years and plans to set aside part of her property for native plants in an effort to be kind to the environment.
“I’m trying to get resources here and see what plants are native to this area because the growing season is a bit shorter,” she said.
Veeder, meanwhile, said more people should plant native plants and advocated for people to work to bring about change.
Someone who lives in an apartment complex, she said, may have a planter full of native species or talk to their landlord about planting native species in the flower beds that make up the property.
“You don’t think about how the smallest creature affects us as humans and how the extinction of those creatures will lead to the extinction of use,” Veeder said. “It’s just about expanding our ideas of what gardening should look like. You can create a beautiful garden while helping wildlife thrive.
Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.
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Categories: News, Saratoga County