Getting Personal!!

 By Jo Doumbia

A while ago, I began my journey by planting the few native plants I knew about and experimenting on one of the side beds of my, not so large, backyard. Along with the plants, I also placed bird feeders.

Later on, I opened “A Butterfly Bed and Breakfast”, a monarch butterflies’ patch on the middle-left side with plants such as milkweed, liatris, phlox, coneflower, etc. During that first year, as the saying goes: “plant them and they come”; indeed, I had a numerous number of caterpillars and shortly after, monarchs, along with lots of pollinators.

I also began learning about nature connections in my small natural backyard laboratory, which from the get-go meant no chemicals of any sort.

Hmm!! Caterpillars feed birds, but birds also need water, and shelter. Next steps then, installing a little pond, planting shrubs, and setting native plants beds all around the perimeter of the backyard. So now, this little sanctuary also has pollinators beds and a “birds’ bed” with nectar producing plants for hummies and other birds. I closed my bird feeders and am now establishing an all-seasons birds’ habitat (i.e., flowers, shrubs, small trees) so they can, on their own, satisfy their food needs throughout the year. 

Ah! But also, it came along the low-key composting of my kitchen discarded veggies and fruits to amend the garden soil. Thus, no need of fertilizers, soil additives or mulch.

This small native sanctuary is a true delight; lots of birds come and go and pollinators and butterflies are regulars, as many find their needed host plants. Also, the frogs found the water and now are residents, the dragonflies are a delight posing on the pond flowers, the birds take regular baths, and squirrels and other mammals drink from it.  In the summer evenings, the fireflies bring their light to the night.

 By watching the behaviors, processes and cycles that take place, I have not only learned, but delighted and marveled. Just Magic!!

But there is another note of celebration in my garden, I will honor and celebrate Pollinator Week 2024 (June 17th – 23rd).  Along with pollinator related activities with other organizations, in my garden, I will plant more for pollinators, will host a garden tour, participate in online bee and butterfly ID workshops, and so much more so I can also help them not only survive but thrive.

As we reflect on the interconnectedness of our world, let’s unite in a collective effort since with just small patches of land, we can protect and preserve these crucial creatures.