NCC encouraging planting native plants for gardening season

·2 min read

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is encouraging gardeners to plant native plants this season to help promote urban wildlife and biodiversity.

NCC media and communications coordinator, Sean Feagan, explained planting native plants in yards, gardens, balconies, decks and other spaces is a very easy small act of conservation that can be of significant benefit to local insects and wildlife.

“In previous years, NCC promoted what was called ‘No-Mow May,’ which was an initiative to encourage people not to mow their lawns throughout the month of May in order to let wildflowers grow, maybe decrease the amount of disturbance that urban wildlife experiences in lawns,” said Feagan. “This year, instead of that, they are promoting really planting native plants … one of the things that we learned during this pandemic is many people turn to nature to find solace, enjoyment and relaxation and that was often in their own backyards and gardens.”

Recognizing that many people tend to enjoy gardening in the spring and summer, the NCC aims to encourage folks that if they are going to do so, there are many attractive native options that can be grown which offer more benefit to local fauna than imported annuals.

“The one thing about native plants is they evolved with our native species, such as pollinators, and so they are more likely to support their life history and help them survive and reproduce,” explained Feagan. “The best thing to do is to plant plants that are from the natural region in which you live. Strathmore and Wheatland County, their natural region is the prairie grasslands and so planting species that evolved in the prairies and are prairie plants would have the greatest impact.”

The Alberta Bee Council has a list of top 12 native plants for bees, including blanket flower, prairie goldenrod, wild bergamot, smooth blue beardtongue and silky scorpionweed.

The Alberta Native Plant Council provides a source list of where to source native plants which are Alberta grown and propagated plants.

“It’s really hard to beat native flowering shrubs in terms of their impact to biodiversity. Not only do their flowers and berries provide food for pollinators and wildlife, but they also provide refuge or structural habitat for a lot of species,” added Feagan. “In general, native species often have lower upkeep requirements and require less water, so those are also benefits to the homeowner or renter to reduce the time they have to spend working and reduce the costs from such things as fertilizer or for watering.”

Local residents who are curious to learn more about the initiative, or more locally native species with which to populate their yard are encouraged to go online for more information (natureconservancy.ca).

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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