An oasis for butterflies, birds, bees, and other pollinators

The three-year community conservation effort to battle buckthorn and other invasive shrubs at the Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve has begun a new chapter as Door County Land Trust installed a new planting of native species this past summer. The lower trailhead now is home to the Land Trust’s first pollinator garden, planted with specific native wildflowers and shrubs to attract pollinating insects. The young pollinator garden, now a year old, incorporates many native plants, while also providing a teaching space highlighting native landscaping techniques other can use on their property to replace invasive garden escapees that threaten native habitat.

               Last year volunteers and neighbors assisted by planting a demonstration pollinator garden and braided-row hedge near the nature preserve’s lower parking area on Bay Shore Drive. More than twenty volunteers participated in the initial planting and took turns over the dry summer months to water the young seedlings. Today, visitors to the preserve can see the budding wildflowers and hear the sounds of success as insects happily buzz about. Bright yellow lanceleaf coreopsis and vivid purple wild bergamot are among the first of the wildflowers to bloom at the pollinator garden this year, with butterfly milkweed and dotted mint to bloom next. Native species like these were carefully selected, with the help of neighbors—and native landscape architects—Dan Collins and Nancy Aten, based on the location, hydrology, blooming time and color. When asked about the garden Collins says, “We have discretion about what to plant in our yards, and here in Door County we might choose to protect our beloved natural beauty by mimicking  some of the patterns offered in nature.”

               As native wildflowers continue to bloom, the garden will serve as an oasis for butterflies, birds, bees, and other pollinators. Not only are these pollinators vital to the production of healthy crops, including the ever-iconic Door County cherry, but they are essential to many wild animals that rely on native plants for food and shelter. As the plants mature over the next several years, the Land Trust is excited to monitor the growth and change in the landscape.

               Next time you are hiking at Bayshore Blufflands, be sure to pause by the lower kiosk and check-out the pollinator garden. How many insects can you count whizzing by? Are native flowers in bloom? The species are labeled for further education, and you can test your native plant knowledge. Then try it for yourself at home! A pollinator garden can be any size or location, from a single planted pot on a balcony to a multi-acre backyard. Plus, native flowers are predisposed to survive in their original ecosystem, meaning native pollinator gardens are easier to care for as well as beautifully diverse. Start by exploring Bayshore Bluffland Nature Preserve’s pollinator garden and braided row planting, then see where the wind takes you.

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