James Bay New Horizons: Pollinator Gardens
James Bay Urban Gardener:
The following article is collaboratively written by coordinators and volunteer gardeners of the James Bay New Horizon's Pollinator Garden and edited by Marion Yas and Linda Chan.
The gardens and apiary at 234 Menzies started from a grass-roots group of volunteers who came together in 2013. Our vision was to provide a home for honey-bees while enhancing the garden with pollinator friendly plants. Through our efforts over the years we have created gardens that not only support pollinators but also come together as beautiful community spaces!
We strive to maintain organic garden practices, which means no use of insecticides or herbicides. We help promote a healthy environment by adding fungal mycelia and beneficial microorganisms to the soil, with tremendous natural benefits to the plants and hence to the bee populations.
From early spring right through to winter, the busy little pollinators can load up on both pollen and nectar from the wide variety of plants in our gardens. In keeping with our ecological procedures, we aim to either grow our own plants directly from organic seed or to purchase plants from local certified organic growers only. Unfortunately, most plants found in local nurseries have been treated with neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides that negatively impact honey-bees.
You can support pollinators no matter where you live. Providing organic plants and a source of water can make the difference—a few pots of herbs next to a saucer filled with water and pebbles or marbles can provide a welcome spot on your balcony for a wide variety of pollinators.
Comments from our volunteer gardeners:
Ann: I have enjoyed gardening since childhood and maintained a large garden in Vancouver for 40 years. Now living in a condo, I love the ability to continue my horticultural therapy with the garden volunteers at JBNH. The camaraderie is a weekly tonic.
Don: After twenty years of developing and operating a blueberry farm, I enjoy the variety of plants and activities at the JBNH Pollinator Garden. Each week there are different tasks and almost every week New Horizons patrons and folks walking to James Bay Centre stop to express their appreciation of the garden and to ask about specific plants. Even the bees show appreciation by visiting the flowers and drinking from the bird bath. Also, the volunteers are a dedicated group and very supportive of each other. There are opportunities to learn as well, with pruning, trimming, and watering.
Irene: I like the seasons in the garden and the constant changes of plant growth. I like the common goals and shared experiences. I am always learning something new.
I like collecting seeds. The garden is a labour of love for me.
Mark: For me the garden is about food—not only in regards to the bees and pollinators, the fruit trees and berries, but as a greater metaphor for what we value in our life. The hopes, dreams, and wishes, written on the tags tied to the fence, speak to the contemplation of what truly feeds us, evoked by the simple presence of a garden.