By Michelle Poirier
Morton Avenue in Keswick is now home to a pollinating bee and butterfly meadow after York Region invited residents to plant native pollinating plants alongside the road on June 29 as a part of Project Pollinator.
“York Region is transforming eight grass boulevards into environmentally friendly pollinating bee and butterfly meadows across the Region,” said Tushar Patel, Manager of Roads Operations for Public Works at York Region.
Patel said the pollinator plants are all native to Ontario and include milkweed, mint, sunflower, aster, and black-eyed Susan.
“It is expected many pollinator plants will be flowering next summer. The first meadow planted last spring in the City of Richmond Hill is currently flowering,” he said.
Patel said pollinator gardens promote native pollinators such as bees and butterflies in urban areas.
“Pollinators support our ecosystem that cleans the air, stabilizes soils, protects from severe weather and support other wildlife by cross-pollinating, a process that allows plants to produce vegetables, fruit and seeds needed to create more plants,” he said.
One of the residents who stopped by to help plant was Christine Rooks, a resident of Island Grove.
“I thought it was a very worthwhile project for the community, we just moved to Georgina last year, and I pass along here often. So, when I saw the posting on Facebook, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to get involved,” she said.
Some people stopped by to see what was happening and shared their support for the project, including Jackie Peirol, a Georgina resident who said more native plants need to be grown and lawns less manicured.
“People don’t even know what Ontario’s supposed to look like anymore,” she said while gesturing to a freshly mowed lawn on one side of the road and wild plants on the other.
Patel said not enough gardens include plants for pollinators, so if residents want to help, they can plant flowers, shrubs and trees that attract bees and butterflies.
“Planting native flowers, including milkweed, will attract butterflies, bees and other important pollinators to your yard and provide the food and shelter they need,” he said.
Another pollinator garden was planted at the ROC last month by The Junior Optimists Club.
Although it has not bloomed yet, the garden has already seen bees move in, according to the Optimist Club of Keswick’s Facebook page.
York Region will run a naming contest for the meadow on Morton Ave. in September. You can find more information at york.ca/projectpollinator.
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