A Pollinator garden for Glebe Annex

Volunteer Neil waters the garden.   Photos: Gabrielle Dallaporta

By Sue Stefko

After years of planning, which included submissions to the city, a grant through the city’s Community Environmental Projects Grant Program and quite a bit of red tape to get all the permissions required to build it, the Glebe Annex Community Association pollinator garden has finally become a reality! The garden was built in Dalhousie South Park on a sunny Saturday in June, with more than a little help from our friends. It takes a village…

In the early days, we worked closely with Amy MacPherson, the city’s pollinator garden champion, Jeannette Krabicka (who, some of you may recall, was the park planner who helped redesign Dalhousie South Park), and Sandy Garland from the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. They were indispensable in providing advice and guidance to select the right site and planting plan, while making sure the city’s guidelines were met through the design and location of the garden.

For the actual creation of the raised bed, we benefitted from the talents of Ben Hildebrand, a hobby woodworker who’s lived in the Glebe Annex for more than eight years. Hildebrand generously offered his skills (and tools) to bring the project into fruition. He is no stranger to helping with community gardens, getting his start volunteering with Bytowne Urban Gardens (BUGs) in Glebe Memorial Park. BUGs is a community garden that promotes sustainable food production – a different focus than our pollinator garden, but an important community resource.

Hildebrand was an enthusiastic supporter of the project. In addition to being the chief builder, he provided advice to improve the design, as well as hands-on expertise to guide the small cadre of volunteers who came together to build the garden.

Heidi Thomson, the Glebe Annex’s butterfly ranger and enthusiastic supporter of pollinators and native plant gardening, was another key contributor to the garden. Also a long-time Glebe Annex resident, Thomson helped us source native plants appropriate to the site, which was a challenge as most pollinator gardens need full sun and this one is under a fair bit of shade cover from the many trees in the park. She managed to get all our plants donated, which was much appreciated, given that the price of cedar lumber almost tripled between when we put together the grant proposal in 2019 and when we actually were able to buy the wood, totally blowing our budget.

Councillor Shawn Menard’s office also provided some cash-in-lieu-of-parkland funding to help us with things such as signage – which wasn’t covered by the grant – and the list goes on. We can’t thank everyone who was part of this here, but every contribution is appreciated!

So far, it seems that insects of the chewing kind are enjoying the garden more than insects of the buzzing kind, but we’re starting to see some of the flowers peek out, and we’re hopeful that the plants can grow and get stronger before they are totally devoured. The build process was fascinating in that we barely saw an insect while we were digging in the parched grasses of the park in June, but almost immediately after the planting, the garden was buzzing with life. The July rains and the tender shoots of the native plants, which include White Snakeroot, Zigzag Goldenrod, different types of aster and Virgin’s Bower Clematis, among others, soon became a beacon for different types of life. We are also hopeful that the squirrels and birds will help us deal with our new insect surplus. While those that moved in, including earwigs, gnats and spiders, may not be the target species, they are still an important part of the web of life.

Ben Hildebrand hard at work building the pollinator garden

If anyone would like to contribute to the ongoing maintenance of the pollinator garden, please reach out to us at info@glebeannex.ca. We would also gratefully accept any photos of flowers or pollinators in the garden by email, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We would like this to be a true community resource for people in the neighbourhood to participate in and perhaps learn from as the various flowers come into bloom at different times of the year, and insects and other visitors come to the garden. With so much shade, coupled with the lack of a water source in the park, this was a daunting challenge, but we’re excited that it’s finally come to fruition!

Sue Stefko is president of the Glebe Annex Community Association and a regular contributor to the Glebe Report.

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