The Pollinator Connection: Saving pollinators is also saving us
By Kristina Lefever for theTidings
Writing a quarterly column in this paper is like being a kid in a candy store. Since I can only be in the store for a certain amount of time every so often, I have to think about what it is I want to enjoy. And because I am always reading, talking, writing, dreaming about (and sometimes watching) pollinators, there is the dilemma about what to choose. This month marks my first-year anniversary writing The Pollinator Connection. So I’m going to celebrate by sharing some of the awesome pollinator happenings happening in our Valley (apologies to those I missed). First, I’d like to thank Joel Heller, Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioner, for his Park Views column of March 22. He clearly states that synthetic pesticides are bad news for pollinators and people, and encourages all residents and businesses to consider Ashland’s goal of using only organic pesticides and fertilizers. With mounting evidence that so many of the products in use for decades not only cause cancer in humans and dogs, but also kill pollinators, fish, birds and more, safer products are becoming available. Here in Ashland, Backyard Organics (the old Ray’s), offers a large selection of soil amendments for growing healthy plants and landscapes, plus a variety of products to deal with pests without toxic side effects for people or pollinators. Please save the date for Bee City USA Ashland’s second Pollinator Garden Tour! Scheduled for Sunday, June 15, the tour will be your chance to again visit beautiful gardens that also support pollinators with flowering plants that bloom all year long, provide areas for nesting and, of course, use no pesticides. More info coming soon! Here’s a big shout out to Talent’s Bee City USA team and the Talent Garden Club for their brand new pollinator garden in front of City Hall! This new garden sports a beautiful array of pollinator plants, many of them native, and several bee hotels. BCU Talent is also reviving their first pollinator garden at the roundabout. I can’t wait to visit Talent this Spring! In Phoenix, the Phoenix Bee City USA team is creating a bee-autiful 180-foot-long mural on the McDonald’s side of the Exit 24 bridge. With flowers, insects, birds and more, painted by people from all over the world, the mural is more than 50 percent complete. Everyone is invited to a pollinator celebration on May 12 — stay tuned for details! Congrats to the four Bee City USAs in the Valley — the three above, plus Bee City USA Gold Hill — for designating 78 (and counting) Bee City USA approved pollinator gardens in both public and private spaces. Do you have a pollinator garden, or want to get involved in your BCU program? Contact your city to find out more. Medford, although not (yet) a Bee City USA, has been exponentially expanding the number of their pollinator-friendly plantings with the help of many organizations, agencies and volunteers. The most recent planting is the butterfly garden with 300 plants just installed at Medford Railroad Park. Sounds fabulous! Here’s a big shout-out to two organizations working hard planting milkweed and other native (pollinator) plants in both large and small areas all around southern Oregon — Lomakatsi Restoration and Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates. In fact, SOMA just awarded the 40-acre Sampson Creek Preserve, just south of Ashland, with the first-ever Regional Scale Monarch Waystation sign. And SOMA continues to add native plants to the existing pollinator plantings at Coyote Nature Trails in Medford and Hanley Farm in Central Point. Sounds like perfect destinations for a field trip! Wouldn’t it bee great if there was a map of all of the pollinator plantings in the Valley? A bee’s eye view, so to speak. Which brings us to the Buzzway, something I’ve written about previously. Let’s get these plantings (and the art, too!) on the Buzzway map, a project Pollinator Project Rogue Valley is working on with the GIS class at SOU. Find out more about the Buzzway project at PollinatorProjectRogueValley.org. And, finally — the Jackson County Master Gardener Association’s annual Spring Garden Fair, with 150 exhibitors and free mini-classes, is a don’t-miss opportunity to buy and learn about all the plants you need for your gardens and landscapes. It’s coming up May 5 and 6 at the Expo in Central Point — hope to see you there! Many things happening in the world these days are beyond our control. But we can all plant a plant or help someone tend their garden, and choose not to use synthetic pesticides. Because saving the pollinators is also saving us. — Kristina Lefever is a member of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, Bee City USA Ashland, and the Jackson County Master Gardener Association. The Pollinator Connection appears quarterly.