Soil, on which all life outside the ocean depends, has been created in part by thousands of years of falling leaves. As they fall down, life rises up. It’s the perennial gift that keeps on giving, but a resource that is often overlooked. After a year of drought we should all be stockpiling leaves to use as a protective mulch for next year’s garden. Broken down leaf mould can hold 300 to 500% of its weight in water. Rich topsoil, by comparison, holds about 60%. Leaf mulch holds in moisture, adds organic matter to the soil and provides nutrients to plants. It’s as precious as bullion to plants and beneficial insects, so whatever you do, don’t burn leaves or throw them away in a large plastic bag!
Our BioBlitz is over, at least for this year! To see all 533 different species that were identified, see below, or click here.
We would like to celebrate our book prize winners and all the participants who made the event so much fun and such a great success. Nikki would especially like to thank Carrie Robinson who organized the event and made it more fun by adding the book prizes. They are such great BC wildlife books and everyone did such great work. They were awarded to the following:
Liam Steele, Plants of Coastal British Columbia
Greg Roberts, Amphibians of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia
Coco van Zyl, Birds of South Western British Columbia
North Oyster School, The Mammals of British Columbia
Sense of Place, The Mammals of British Columbia
Liam Steele, age 11, is clearly an I-Naturalist super-user and worth following on I-Naturalist under Pacificwhitesideddolphin.We were so fortunate to have him join our event. Not only did he have the top number of observations; he also ID’d over a hundred species for other participants and had some amazing shots, like the Plainfin Midshipman (the fish that sings) and the American Mink (by Transfer Beach). He started his career as an i-Naturalist in June 2019 at the age of 9, when he used it as a guide for listing species on his summer vacation in Vernon and Osoyoos. He was 10 ¾ before he knew he could join i-Naturalist and he has now made over ten thousand observations. We are sure he will achieve his goal of becoming a wildlife biologist, and hope he finds the Pojar and MacKinnon Plant book useful in this quest.
Greg Roberts, unlike Liam, started with the Pojar and MacKinnon Plant book and he has been using it for years. Through our YES BioBlitz he has just been introduced to i-Naturalist. He was one of our most enthusiastic participants. He was there at the meeting asking the tough questions and was the first one onto the field on Day 1 of the BioBlitz. Greg has accumulated a lifetime of great wildlife pictures from his career as a trained geographer who spent most of his working life behind a desk in park and land planning but most of his free time canoeing, camping, and exploring. He has now started to upload his images into i-Naturalist and is really enjoying the help the app gives with IDs.
Coco van Zyl knows every inch of the land she has been stewarding for the past six years. She has repeatedly removed invasive and non-native species, encouraging and protecting native plants until they are robust enough to thrive. We are so lucky to have her record some of these species and to ID species for others. She needs little help from I-Naturalist to ID plants, and could probably help improve their App in this area.
Desiree Ferdinandi signed up North Oyster School for the BioBlitz and worked with her colleagues, Camille Paradis and Heather Trawick, and students in Grades 2, 3 and 6/7 to participate. They organized classes so that students took pictures and the grade 6/7 class uploaded them to her i-Naturalist account. She spent the week trying to ID them. Desiree is quick to point out that Camille Paradis and Heather Trawick put a lot of time and effort into getting North Oyster involved in the BioBlitz and did the lion’s share of the organizing. The end results were very respectable, and it was great fun for all. We would love to invite Desiree, Camille and Heather to our BioBlitz meeting next year to share how schools and groups can collate their observations.
Patti Gisborne signed up the Sense of Place Youth Project Outdoor Explorers. Amanda McDonough, their outdoor exploration manager, said they “were thrilled to photograph and record the diversity of life on the Gisborne property. The children learn about the plants and creatures here seasonally, and they found great joy in sharing that data in the BioBlitz. Children took turns discovering and photographing their favourite plants throughout the forest, field, orchard, and pond. They loved being able to identify unknown species through the i-Naturalist app. We will definitely be utilizing this app in the future for our programming!“
YES plans to host the BioBlitz as a regular annual event, and we are keen to hear suggestions on how we can make it even better next year. Please email us or post comments on our website and please continue to browse the YES BioBlitz project on I-Naturalist to see and ID the wonderful species in our area.
I didn’t believe him when he said the fish could sing. I didn’t believe him when he said, in fact, that they could sing so loudly I should be able to hear them on land. That maybe I had heard them, but had mistaken their song for a generator, or some kind of weird engine.
I didn’t believe him when he said the fish had marks that were actually lights, and that these lights were so bright they could be seen at depths below 400 meters, which is where the fish live most of the time. Except when they mate in the intertidal zone.
The Yellow Point Ecological Society is starting a regular biweekly blog.
Would you like to try your hand at writing?
by Guy Dauncey
Choose a topic that is specific and tangible, such as the nuthatch, twinflowers, Roberts Memorial Park, a specific idea to solve one of our ten thousand ecological problems, or a personal experience. Make it sound intriguing, such as “The Secret Life of the Merganser” or “My Magical Moments in Hemer Park.”
Limit your blog to around 750 words.
Do your research, to include material that will be new and interesting to most people. Did you know that Midshipman Fish could sing, and that they breed in Ladysmith Harbour? Google your way to instant professorship.
Find an unusual hook to get the reader started. “We were amazed to hear not one but four barred owls calling to each other when we took the children for a night walk at Blue Heron Park a week ago.”
Understand that it is normal to write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite four times before you get it right. All the best writers do it. Leo Tolstoy rewrote War and Peace (587,000 words) seven times, requiring his long-suffering wife Sofia to do the actual rewriting – by hand.
Avoid socio-consequential prosaic formulations that use long words and complex ideo-formulaic constructions. You are not writing an academic PhD.
Have fun. Be playful with your words and phrases. Let them dance and enjoy themselves – oh, you outrageous rollocking racoons!
Tell a story. “I was in my bedroom when my father rushed in and shouted ‘Come down! You’ve got to see this!’. I was eight years old, always willing to be excited, but never had I expected to see our dog with our kitten sleeping on his head. It was the start of a life-long devotion to the study of animal behaviour.”
Use links. You can embed one into the text by using control K to highlight a word or phrase and Control C then V to copy and paste the link in. Two, perhaps even five is fine, but not twenty. That’s a bit much.
Print a copy and read it aloud. This will tell you whether it flows along like a pleasant piece of music or clunks along like a reluctant blog that needs a trip to the repair shop. You could also ask a friend to read it before you send it off. You never know – they may think it’s great!
Don’t be shy to use spelchek. Don’t Use Capitals except for unique names. You wanted so desperately to visit a park you’d never been to before, so you settled on Eve’s Park.
Choose an image to accompany your story. To be clear about copyright, use Google Image search, click ‘Tools’, then ‘Usage rights’, then ‘Labelled for reuse’. If you want to be creative, drag the image into a Powerpoint page and play around with it to make something creative. Then use Grab or a screen-capture app to turn your new image into a jpeg.
The Yellow Point Ecological Society is happy to announce the $250 Winner of our Nature Photo Contest:
Lynda Stevens, for her gorgeous photo of a Salmonfly Cicada resting on an Oregon Grape flower.
Lynda lives in South Nanaimo, and she got seriously into amateur photography when she moved here from Nelson five years ago, starting with her love of birds then moving onto insects.
She loves the parks and trails around Cedar and Yellow Point, and she took the photo in early spring close to the Coco Café in Cedar, at the start of the Morden Colliery Regional Trail, using an ordinary point-and-shoot camera – a Sony RX104 with a variable range lens.
This parcel of land has been sold in a way that makes us very happy. A German couple who have roots on the Island have bought the 21 Acres for the sole purpose of preserving the forest, and creating a partnership with Wildwood to practice ecoforestry on the land..
There’s a 21-acre parcel of forested land on the market in Yellow Point, at the end of Roper Road. Yellow Point is a jewel of a rural area that’s like a Gulf Island without the ferries, 20 minutes north of Ladysmith, 25 minutes south of Nanaimo.
The land has not been logged for years, and fifty years ago it was managed by Merv Wilkinson, of Wildwood fame. As Yellow Point residents, we would love to welcome new people to the area who share our appreciation and respect for the forest.
Our local election is this Saturday, October 20th. Who should you vote for in Regional District of Nanaimo Area A? We have assembled a Candidates’ Questionnaire on matters that concern us. Here are the candidates’ responses. Continue reading “RDN Area A Local Election, 2018”
It cools us in the summer, it warms our hearts all year,
It provides a home for owls and flowers, for herons, cedars, fir.
It shapes the landscape, painting peace, away from the urban rush,
It protects our water all year round, surrendering it clear and fresh.
In Japanese, the word shinrin means forest and yoku means bath, so shinrin-yoku means ‘forest bath’: being immersed in the forest with all our senses. Listening to its quietness, seeing the variety of trees, mosses, lichens and rocks, tasting the air as you breathe in deeply, touching the rough Douglas fir and the smooth red arbutus, going barefoot across the earth, dipping your feet in a forest stream, lying down to gaze up at its beauty. Such bathing brings healing to the body, heart, mind and soul.
These are the poems that we shared in the forest on a wonderful May morning full of wildflowers. Enjoy!
At Blackwater Pond
by Mary Oliver, a poet from Ohio, aged 82
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands.
I drink a long time.
It tastes like stone, leaves, fire.
It falls cold into my body, waking the bones.
I hear them deep inside me, whispering …
Oh what is that beautiful thing that just happened?
That Patch of Wilderness
by Lacey Clark, a young woman who lives in a tiny home the Cowichan Valley
We are like that patch of wilderness
Though the streets are paved with concrete
I see the vibrant bursts of life push their way through the cracks
with unfaltering determination
Bold in their blatant disregard
At mans attempt to cover their wildness
Though I may shade my softness with downturned lashes
Yearn to push through the cracks of my lids
To share the light of my sameness
To be recognized from under the concrete
Of my expression
As the brambles of the blackberry
Can yield a thorny exterior
Vines of prickles may climb my words
An attempt to protect the sweet fruit that is
May the birds of truth steal the seeds
of my longing and spread them far
That I may grow
Over the earth
I see you, the wilderness
Breathing deep under the city
Your time of hibernation almost up
I feel your listlessness.
Deep in my bones
Prayer of the Woods
By Veiga Simoes, a Portuguese writer, journalist, politician, diplomat and historian. While he was the Portuguese ambassador in Berlin, he signed visas that saved many Jews in World War II. This poem was written in May, 1914.
I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights,
the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun,
and my fruits are refreshing draughts quenching your thirst as you journey on.
I am the beam that holds your house,
the board of your table, the bed on which you lie,
and the timber that builds your boat.
I am the handle of your hoe,
the door of your homestead,
the wood of your cradle,
and the shell of your coffin.
I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty.
Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer:
Harm me not.
My Heart Soars
by Chief Dan George, past chief of the Tsleil-Waututh (slay-wah-tooth) First Nation, an actor, poet and author.
The beauty of the trees, the softness of the air, the fragrance of the grass, speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain, the thunder of the sky, the rhythm of the sea, speaks to me.
The strength of the fire, the taste of salmon, the trail of the sun, and the life that never goes away, they speak to me.
And my heart soars.
By Alfred Joyce Kilmer, American poet. He wrote this poem in 1913; he was killed by a sniper’s bullet in July 1918, while serving in World War One, at the age of 31.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Something About A Forest
By Sophia White, 18 years old; she lives in the Appalachian Mountains in America
There’s just something about a forest
That makes the turbulent soul fall still
And listen to the mournful dirge
Of the solemn whipporwhill.
There’s just something about a forest
That makes closed eyes want to look
At the rippling, tippling kaleidescope
Of the steady-flowing brook.
There’s just something about a forest
Than makes the angry gazes see
The regal and majestic might
Ot the ancient maple tree.
There’s just something about a forest
That makes the most stubborn will learn
To praise the bashful beauty
Of the pale green, newborn fern.
There’s just something about a forest
That awakens weary souls
With the fresh rejuvenation
That only a forest holds.
The Cedar and Fir Tree Lovers
by Ray Lucero, an American poet
During a spring day walk through a primeval rain forest,
We encountered on a steep hillside two old growth trees,
One a Western Red Cedar the other a Douglas Fir.
Incredibly the two giants seemed joined together near ground level.
How could this be?
After all they were of two different species!
Our minds quickly filled with possibilities;
Were they just fused for mutual support?
Were they some kind of cross breed,
If so could they propagate?
We concluded that they were married.
“For better or worse, in sickness or in health”
Unheard wedding vows save for their tall fellows,
Standing silent witness.
We imagined their roots beneath ground,
Forever entwined in lifelong bliss.
We pondered what might happen when age and disease,
Toppled one of these magnificent lovers?
Would the other grieve?
Would the surviving lover stand witness…
As flora and fauna lay claim to the bountiful offering,
Of the fallen giant sacrificed to them?
Would the surviving lover wither and die or choose life?
We then realized that diversity, cooperation, and love are
Earthly traits celebrated by all living plants and animals.
We left the forest in awe and inspired by,
“The Cedar and Fir Tree Lovers”
How Can It Be Time?
By Doug Makaroff, an urban planner and developer who lives in Victoria. Doug founded the Elkington Living Forest Community, a forest ecological hamlet south of Shawnigan Lake, which saved 800 acres of forest by the use of residential clustering on 15% of the land.
How can it be time
for the acorns to bud already?
The summer’s only just begun
and not weeks since the precious
pale leaves of May emerged.
But now the next generation appears
small firm green expressions of fertility
held sunward by dappled waxen leaves
hardening against a backdrop of grizzled bark.
The grass beneath the trees
withers but is not dead.
The camas flower too will see another season.
This landscape unfolds in so many
stages of birth, life, decay, death combined.
Oh, that my heart could grasp and hold the
mystery of the self-addressed envelope of LIFE.
One final paragraph of advice
By Edward Abbey, an American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, his criticism of public land policies, and his anarchist political views. His best-known works include the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, which has been cited as an inspiration by many environmental groups.
One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out.
Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast, a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic.
Save the other half for yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure.
It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.
While you can.
While it’s still here.
So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizzly, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breath deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely mysterious and awesome space.
Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators.
I promise you this: you will out live the bastards.
We Heard No Owls
By Richard Arnold, an English prof at VIU, a great environmentalist and a fabulous man who died last year. He led many hikes up Mount Benson for the VIU community. Rachel Cooper, one of our Yellow Point Ecological Society members, says that this poem about the owls became real for her after Wyndlow’s logged 40 acres at the end of Doole Rd.
We did not hear a single owl this winter.
Our neighbor logged his hundred acres clean,
And now deep midnight wild has lost its splendor.
He claims that he’ll make pastureland to rent, or
Turn into trenches sprouting soybeans:
And we heard not a single owl this winter.
Trees gone, the man is not afraid to enter
Where once he heard weird cries and sweeping wings–
The place where midnight wild has lost its splendor.
Always the Great Horned whooped beyond our window,
Bass rhythmic mutters in our December dreams–
But we heard not a single owl this winter.
What fiend would scorch a gorgeous wood to cinders?
Quiet snows bereft of feathered hunters mean
That our deep midnight wild has lost its splendor.
He goes to church, yet God knows he’s a sinner;
The stars frown down on this diminished scene;
We did not hear a single owl this winter,
And now deep midnight wild has lost its splendor.
A Wolf in the Choir
by Richard Arnold
Although essentially I hated school,
I had one brilliant outlaw for a teacher.
“When it comes to truth, I’m lazy,” he used to say.
“I find it in close-by, ordinary things.”
The Literature he showed us was thunderclouds
Swollen like dark cheeks with a prodigious message
In the fearful moments of silence before they open
With tongues of fire to teach the listening earth.
In Economics he taught us the constant debit
Of forests and rivers, the credit of concrete and greenhouse.
Religion we learned by standing in April rain,
Hats off, in silence, seeing it soak the ground.
Politics, he claimed, would quickly go extinct
If we all simply heard the steady song
Our reason sang, then tuned our living to it.
In Music, he’d talk about the genius of Bach-
But weep for joy when he heard the evening grosbeak.
Our Sociology was dropping to hands and knees
On beaches to watch the yellow sand-verbena
Fling its fragrance of sex to pollinators.
The years passed on. At last we graduated.
We packed the hall, and our commencement speaker
Talked stagnantly about how noble Science
Was waiting for us to run its budgets of billions
And ride in rockets to learn the universe.
But afterward, shaking his head, our teacher took us
Aside and quietly gave us our last lesson.
“Science? The universe?
Ride a fifty-cent bus to the creek and study the eyes
Of a wolf-spider preparing to launch on a cricket.”
Then sidled away, hunch-shouldered, almost arachnoid,
Leaving us (our first moult finished) with fledgling fangs
To pierce and suck the truth in uncouth ways.
There is a lot of local interest in finding land where we could establish a natural/green burial site in the Yellow Point and Cedar area.
This would satisfy a spiritual need for people who wanted their remains to to rest in the arms of a forest, and an ecological need by protecting an area of forest that might otherwise have been cut down.
To learn more, we invited Cathy Valentine from the Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery to make an evening presentation, and help us to learn how we could remember a loved-one in a forest that would over time become a towering old-growth forest.
If you are interested, and if you know land that might be suitable, please contact Pamela Walker, 250-245-9155
Hosted by NOAHS and Yellow Point Ecological Society. Linda Brooymans, Mid-Vancouver Island Coordinator for the BC Community Bat Program, will give a presentation and answer questions on bats, and their benefits. Do you have bats? Would you like to attract them?
Come to our meeting before the bats return this spring. Limited amount of guano for sale. North Oyster Community Centre 13467 Cedar Road. In person, and by Zoom. There is no need to register if you are attending in person, although if you do, you will be notified when the video of the talk is ready. For Zoom, register here
This is a big project that we have been working on for two years. Our goal is to complete and print a super-useful resourceful guide for all local land-owners and stewards of the land, to guide us as we manage the land and all the co-inhabitants with whom we share it.
This is our Table of Contents. We will gradually add links to pages as we complete them.
The Salt Spring author, naturalist and artist Briony Penn has kindly allowed us to convert some of her beautiful illustrations into greetings cards, which we are selling as a fundraiser for YES. $6 each. Buy 3 or more $5 each. Add $5 for postage if you would like us to mail them to you.
We are not set up for an on-line shop, so please bear with us! The cards shown below are available by all five methods. Various other designs are also available if you visit the three outlets listed in method 1.
Let’s start with a test: what does OCP stand for? Old Cobbler Pudding? Off-duty Celibates Party? No, it stands for Official Community Plan, the draft of which concerns everyone who lives in the Cowichan Valley outside of North Cowichan, Duncan, Lake Cowichan and Ladysmith.
A good OCP is an inspiring vision of a community’s future. A bad OCP is a book of waffle that make your brain weary and includes no commitments to act. We want the good one, not the other kind.
The CVRD planners have written the first draft of CVRD Bylaw 4373, which you can print and read. During April they are offering 14 opportunities to participate in on-line workshops, two for each of seven of the OCP’s eight Goals. You can sign in and register for a workshop here.
It opens with a Vision Statement: “Surrounded by thriving natural environments and farmlands, the Cowichan Valley is a collective of vibrant and distinct communities.” That’s pretty good. It continues: “Our connection to nature is at the heart of our identity … growth is incremental and managed … resilience to emerging trends will define our community’s future.”
So let’s dive in! Goal #1 is ‘Mitigate and Adapt to the Climate Crisis’, and the workshops are on Wednesdays April 13th and 27th, 6pm-7:30pm. Are the actions and policies proposed sufficient to reduce our climate pollution from transportation and natural gas by 40% by 2030, within 8 years? What more is needed? That’s for you to decide.
Goal #2 is ‘Manage Infrastructure Responsibly’, and the workshops are on Tuesdays April 5th and 19th, 6pm-7:30pm. This is about solid waste, recycling, sewage, energy, drinking water, and stormwater. It’s also about our aquifers and watersheds, and ecologically destructive logging practices that cause flooding, harm fish habitat, and wash forest topsoil into the ocean. Go to Cowichan Bay after a massive rainstorm and you’ll see what I mean, as the topsoil from forest clearcuts is washed down the Koksilah River, driving the sealions away and turning the ocean brown.
Goal #3 is ‘Make Distinct, Complete Communities’, which addresses – among other things – the affordable housing crisis. The text reads “Compared to the rest of BC, housing is generally more affordable for owners, but somewhat worse for renters,” which might be true if this was the 1980s. Are the policies sufficient to end the crisis? The workshops are on Wednesdays April 6th and 20th, 6pm-7:30pm
Goal #4 is Expand Mobility Options. This addresses the reality that 90% of our trips are by private vehicle, producing 79% of our dangerous greenhouse gases; that transit is minimal; that safe separated bike paths are few and far between; and that the CVRD has almost no jurisdiction in this area. The OCP also includes measures the CVRD can advocate for, however. How can we make it easier for people travel by bus and bike? The workshops are on Thursdays April 7th and 21st, 6pm-7:30pm.
Goal #5 is Protect and Restore Natural Assets – our forests and rivers, creeks and wetlands. What must we do to protect our watersheds, and the ecological integrity of the forest? How can we protect the frogs, the bees, and the native plants the birds depend on? The workshops are on Saturdays April 9th and 23rd, 10am–11:30am.
Goal #6 is Strengthen Local Food and Agricultural Systems. We all love our farmers, yet we import 95% of our food. What changes are needed so that they can grow much more local food? What would it take for farm workers to be able to live on the farms where they work? The workshops are on Saturdays April 9th and 23rd, 1pm-2:30pm.
Goal #7 is Enhance Regional Prosperity, which is about business, and the supposed need for more industrial land to build warehouses to store all the things we buy from Amazon. How can we make our economy green and circular, with zero waste? The workshops are on Tuesdays April 12th and 26th, 6pm-7:30pm.
Goal #8 is Improve Governance and Implementation, which is how the goals and policies will be implemented and progress will be measured. There are no workshops for this.
If you read the draft OCP you’ll be better equipped to participate. If you have ideas for change, bring them with you. The OCP lays the foundation for our region’s zoning bylaws, local area plans, and development permit areas, so it matters. Ideally, it stands for Obtainable Community Progress. Let’s make it so! See www.planyourcowichan.ca .
As a nature lover who has enjoyed native plants for many years, I have noticed that the vast majority of gardens feature hardly any native flora in their designs.
Even more intriguing is the fact that this includes the gardens of people who genuinely care for our natural world and who understand the urgent need to preserve wildness.
The most likely reason is our conditioning from childhood onwards by the gardens around us, which focus on the decorative value of plants, never their ecological function. Nurseries strengthen this cultural mantra by promoting showy flowering species that are native to Asia, the Mediterranean, the tropics and so on.
And why not? I hear you say. After all, they are beautiful to look at. Plus, one might add, they garner respect and admiration from neighbours and visitors, enhancing our status. Regarding native plants, the cultural imperative seems to be: not in my backyard.
But here’s the big catch: introduced plants are not good at providing food for the native animals that drive our ecosystems. A full third of our wild bees are specialists, meaning their larvae, the next bee generation, can only feed on the pollen of certain native plant lineages. Over hundreds of thousands of years, they have evolved with these local plants in a win-win relationship. Bees get pollen, food for their larvae, from specific plant genera or even from a single species, while the plants ensure that their pollen is spread mostly in their own genus, guaranteeing seed production and propagation.
Now, picture a little newly emerged specialist bee, single-mindedly searching for the particular native flower it needs to rear its brood. If this mother bee can’t find those plants, it can’t fulfill the purpose of its short life: nest-building, egg laying and provisioning the babies with a pile of pollen food. When this little bee dies, so will future generations with it.
This scenario is happening around us millions of times, around the neighbourhood, the country and sadly, the world.
For the wild specialist bees, the most stunning introduced plants might as well be made of plastic. Our love affair with foreign plants is killing our bees by leaving them without food. To make things worse, many common introduced garden plants, like periwinkle, mountain bluet, yellow archangel and others, have become invasive inside and outside of gardens, forming smothering carpets that might otherwise be populated by native plants supporting ecosystem function.
Generalist bees, like mason bees, bumblebees or the non-native honey bee fare a little better, as they can make use of the pollen and nectar of some introduced plants. But along with most other insects, all are doomed by the pesticides and insecticides we liberally apply to our gardens for the sake of sterile prettiness and a perfect lawn.
Is it any wonder that an insect apocalypse is happening everywhere?
And yet, we don’t have to despair. There are some powerful positives that can fuel a turnaround:
We are lucky because the insects, although decimated are still around.
We control what grows in our gardens, and we can choose biodiversity over ecological destruction.
We can replace parts of our lifeless lawns and ornamentals with native plants, including shrubs and trees, that are the host plants for caterpillars, which are the indispensable food for baby birds. Introduced plants are essential useless at supporting the caterpillars of our native moths and butterflies.
We can opt against chemical poisons and for a natural variety of insect life, without which by the way, we humans would quickly be “toast”.
Oh, and did I mention that we have the most stunning native plants right here on the Island? They grow in my garden, but we hardly see them in nature anymore. When did you last notice such beauties as Woolly Sunflower, Farewell-to-Spring, Camas, Yellow Monkeyflower or Mountain Sneezeweed in the wild?
Let’s bring them back, and the wild bees, along with countless other insects, will find them. Let’s endow them wit the high status they truly deserve!
Sabine Alstrom lives in Duncan. For free help with your garden or more information, please contact her at email@example.com.