Gardens are not something you typically think of when it comes to Ontario parks, considering we preserve many of Ontario’s natural landscapes. But there is one type of garden we are happy to build in our parks: pollinator gardens!
Last summer, two southeast parks worked hard to build and establish new pollinator gardens. Because? Because planting native plants supports biodiversity and helps our pollinators, some of which have dramatically declining populations.
Pollinators are animals that move pollen from one flower to another, helping plants produce seeds and reproduce.
Animals such as butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, bees, wasps and hummingbirds are important pollinators. Together, they help keep our ecosystems healthy and functioning.
Interested in learning more? Let’s find out where and what you can find in these gardens.
Sibbald Point Provincial Park
The Discovery team at Sibbald Point started two new pollinator gardens at the end of May last year. One is opposite the Park Store and the other on the lawn of the Information Office, which houses displays on the plants and animals of Sibbald Point.
In such a busy park where recreational opportunities abound, projects to support the ecological integrity of the park often take place in the background, unknown to visitors. These gardens in the day use areas are there for everyone to enjoy, most importantly Sibbald’s pollinators!
The Discovery team planted a variety of species including Black-eyed Susan, Common Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, Hoary Vervain and Hairy Beardtongue.
Most of these species currently grow in the park or have grown here historically. The garden also includes two species of grass: Little Bluestem and Big Bluestem. These grasses are host plants for a variety of insects and grow primarily in tallgrass prairies.
The Discovery team decided to include these grass species as a nod to Sibbald Point’s sister park, Holland Landing Prairie, which features tallgrass prairies.
Grassland and savannah ecosystems require the clearing or burning of dead plant matter in order to regenerate. The practice of prescribed burning was originated by Indigenous Peoples and remains a management tool today. Grasslands are rapidly disappearing due to urban development and the growth of invasive species. Our grasses act as ambassadors to educate our visitors about the importance and struggles that grasslands face.
Two months after building their gardens, park staff have already seen positive results! Lauren Daniels, Discovery ranger at Sibbald Point, shares her thoughts:
“Planting the pollinator garden was one of the first projects I worked on at Discovery. Since planting the garden, it has been amazing to see its progress! The plants have grown a lot and new pollinators visit us every day. Seeing how far the garden has come since the day we planted it has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this job for me. “I truly feel like I have had a positive impact on our ecosystem.”
By creating these pollinator gardens, the Discovery team at Sibbald Point hopes to highlight the importance of striking a balance between human use and protection of natural spaces in a busy park.
Sibbald Point is known for its popular beach and camping, but the park has areas of crucial habitat for pollinator species that often go unnoticed. The gardens not only help pollinators, but also give visitors the opportunity to see hard-working insects up close and become familiar with these beneficial plants.
Pollinator efforts in parks in 2023
The Sibbald Point staff continues to expand their gardens!
This year they have planted:
- three species of milkweed
- obedient plant
- Cylindrical burning star
- white snake root
- swamp rose
- wild columbine
The staff is excited to increase the biodiversity of the area they have planted and see how last year’s plants continue to grow and bloom.
Want to learn more?
Sibbald Point offers drop-in programs about its pollinator garden all summer long at the Information Office Garden.
Check their events page to see when the next drop-in program is taking place!
Frontenac Provincial Park
Frontenac is a beautiful rural gem located within the Frontenac Arch, one of 19 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Canada. Covering an area of 5,355 hectares, this park has a great diversity of plant species and is home to many species of pollinators.
Last spring, park staff were discussing ways to support their local pollinator population and determined that planting a pollinator garden was a great way to do so while also showing visitors why pollinators are important to our ecosystems. .
You can find your new pollinator garden and interpretive sign at the park picnic area next to the park office.
The Frontenac team planted native wildflowers with a wide range of bloom times and colors to attract a variety of different pollinators. Some of these plant species include Spotted Joe-pye, Pearly Everlasting, Wild Bergamot, and Harebell.
Some of the species planted in the garden not only provide nectar for pollinators, but also serve as a host plant for some butterflies. American Lady, Painted Lady, and several species of skipper butterflies will lay their eggs on Pearly Everlasting and the plant will provide good food for the growing caterpillars.
Being a country park, there is a lot of wildlife nearby, which can present a challenge for new gardens. Park staff suspect that local deer have enjoyed eating the planted evening primrose and showy tick clover, but fortunately, these plants are hardy and growing back!
While the garden seemed small last summer, it will soon be full of pollinating plants!
Typically, gardens do not bloom for the first year and the plants focus on surviving in their new environment. This summer, these plants will begin to grow and thrive in their third year!
Great job protecting pollinators, Sibbald Point and Frontenac!
Next time you are in Sibbald Point Provincial Park or Frontenac Provincial Park, be sure to stop by their pollinator gardens to find out which pollinators are enjoying them.
Remember: small gardens can have a big impact! Consider creating a local pollinator garden in your home!