by Kristina Lefever for the Tidings June 30, 2020
June is like a flower — after long anticipation the bud finally bursts open into this beautiful blossom that bedazzles our senses. But this year is like no other, with two world-wide crises tearing long-held systems and beliefs to shreds.
This year especially, we need to spend time within the beauty of a garden or the natural world, among the plants, insects, birds and other creatures who are continuing on with their existence, unaware of the life-changing events happening on the human scale.
Now, in addition to responding to the coronavirus, we are (finally) fighting the systemic virus of racism, part of the very soil of our existence. And because of all the hard work people are doing to make this world a better place for everyone, I have no doubt that next year’s flower of June will be even more spectacular.
Backyard and community gardens, parks and greenspaces, trees and creeks — Ashland has a plethora of beauty, including more than 60 pollinator gardens certified by Bee City USA Ashland. This year was to have been BCUA’s fourth annual Pollinator Garden Tour. Rather than visiting in person, this year you can visit virtually. Thirteen gardeners submitted a video for the “2020 Tour.” See the city of Ashland’s Bee City USA website to see them all, www.ashland.or.us/beecity.
As chair of Bee City USA Ashland, I offer a very big thank you to the gardeners who took the time and thought to share how they are helping make the world a more beautiful place.
Do you have, or know of, a pollinator garden you would like to have certified by BCUA? The nomination form is on the BCUA website.
Our annual tour also celebrates National Pollinator Week, so here’s a shout-out of gratitude to the national Bee City USA organization and The Xerces Society. They are helping the country bee-come more pollinator friendly by encouraging cities and campuses to incorporate practices, policies and activities to benefit all of us. Learn more about the program and the work other affiliates are doing in a blog written by Molly Martin, the Bee City USA coordinator, at https://xerces.org/blog/celebrating-a-year-of-enacting-positive-change-bee-city-usa-bee-campus-usa. You will also find the annual reports from Ashland, Talent, Phoenix and Southern Oregon University.
For those who don’t have a garden or the place to grow one, there are other opportunities. Right now Ashland Parks and Recreation has a need for volunteers. Not surprisingly, the parks budget — and staff — has been impacted drastically because of the virus. Volunteers are needed more than ever to help ensure Ashland maintains its parks and green spaces.
The City of Ashland is a leader in creating and maintaining parks and greenspaces. Before I moved here, a number of concerned citizens helped the city become the first in the valley to end the use of synthetic pesticides on its parklands.
Much gratitude to Lori Ainsworth, the city’s first volunteer coordinator, for all of her hard work. We are now very fortunate to have Sulaiman Shelton in that role. I encourage every Ashlander to consider this possibility. It’s a great way to do good, feel good and grow community at the same time. Find the various volunteer options at www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=12978.
I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that we need more than just “beauty” in a landscape. Consider the plants, trees and shrubs that also serve pollinators — native bees, honey bees, beetles, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and wasps. Native plants, especially host plants for moths and butterflies (meaning they get eaten), are critical for healthy pollinator populations — and thus birds and other wildlife. Where can you add native beauty?
At the Pollination Place on Main Street in Phoenix, Pollinator Project Rogue Valley is doing just that. I know there are more pollinators there this June than last. Many thanks to the volunteers who helped make this garden happen and continue to help maintain it and improve it — and to Wanda Borland for helping us capture interesting plant and pollinator life on film. To see how the garden has changed, and just a few of the pollinators and native plants there, see our website at www.pollinatorprojectroguevalley.org/gardens. Or, better yet, visit in person.
I hope that during these hopefully-never-to-be-repeated times, you are able to find solace in a garden. Gardening is for people, but also the planet — and pollinators. Be a gardener. Work the soil, and watch the beauty grow for all of us.
Kristina Lefever is a member of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley and Bee City USA Ashland, and a board member of Beyond Toxics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.