Native Pollinator Garden

  • Location
    Boston, Massachusetts
  • Status
  • Age Level
    14 to 18 Years

The Problem

Populations of pollinators are decreasing worldwide. This is devastating to the world’s ecosystems, for pollinators play such a vital role in keeping the Earth healthy. Their decline is partially due to invasive species and a lack of native habitats.

Our Plan

I plan to plant a completely native garden in front of my house for my community’s native pollinators. My goal is to provide a safe haven for them to eat, breed, and shelter. I will apply to get my garden certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. I believe that one of the most important elements of conservation is education – it is vital to help others understand and love wildlife and the environment, for that is how we will work together to affect positive change. Since I am a wildlife photographer and a writer, I plan to document this project through a photo story. Then, I will approach a local organization (such as my town library or a nearby botanical gardens) with the goal of giving a presentation on the results of my garden to encourage others to plant native. I hope to not only make a difference in my own yard, but also to inspire others to support pollinators as well.

Themes Addressed

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    Environmental Justice
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    Invasive Species
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The Benefit

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Here is how the project went:

This project went well! I researched for a few weeks to learn about my local Plant Hardiness Zone, native plants, and native pollinators, and which plants would be the best fit for my local environment. I purchased 16 plants from a dedicated native plant nursery and created a small native pollinator garden in my yard by digging up a large portion of my lawn and planting each potted plant. Most of the plants thrived, although a few suffered in the heat despite diligent watering, as the summer of 2022 was one of the hottest and driest summers on record in Boston, MA. As a wildlife photographer, I used my macros lens to photograph the insects that visited the garden, and the Seek iNaturalist app to identify them. I was very excited to see so many native species, such as the Fragile Forktail Damselfly, the Variable Reddish Pyrausta Moth, and the Bicolored Striped Sweat Bee. Some pollinators only travel with a radius of a few miles, so having local native plants is very important for them. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to provide this support for my local pollinators in my community.

Through this project I/we learned:

I learned so much through this project. I learned how to identify many plants and insect species, and learned about Plant Hardiness Zones, the decline of insects, and the importance of planting native plants to support your local pollinators.

What I/we might change:

The plants I planted last summer were perennials, so many of them are growing back this spring. I am hoping to expand my garden this year by adding more plants to attract hummingbirds as well, and perhaps a water source, such as a bird fountain, to further attract more birds. I might also add a small garden that is more in shade to protect the plants from the heat as Boston summers continue to get warmer.

My/our favorite part of this project was:

My favorite part of this project was seeing the number of native pollinators visiting my garden. To see it buzzing with so much life was so rewarding and exciting. In addition, I am going to give a presentation on this project to a group of young students at a local nature center this summer. I love teaching children, and am excited to share my love of nature and the importance of supporting pollinators.

Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:

I think the most important thing I could suggest would be to not give up. At first it was discouraging to see a few of my plants suffer in the heat, and some did not survive. But the plants that thrived provided so much food and shelter for my local pollinators. As climate change alters our ecosystems, it’s important to find mitigation and adaptation strategies and to not give up hope. Even small actions, like planting one garden, can truly make a difference.

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