Caroline Collier teaches a Wildflower student how to plant wildflower seeds. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

Caroline Collier teaches a Wildflower student how to plant wildflower seeds. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

Creston students learn about pollinator gardens

Caroline Collier is planting flowers on behalf of the bees

In recent years, the honey bee has faced many threats that have led to a decline in their population.

From the use of pesticides to climate change to urbanization, bees are in need of help to continue their important work.

READ MORE: Stop using toxic chemicals implores Trail beekeeping family after 2 hives poisoned

Caroline Collier, a Creston resident, has made it her personal mission to raise awareness about how to protect pollinators.

Three years ago, she first learned about pollinator gardens from the David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway Project. The volunteer-led movement aims to bring nature to neighbourhoods across Canada by planting native wildflowers in backyard gardens, schoolyards, and parks.

The Butterflyway Project is an initiative started by the David Suzuki Foundation. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

The Butterflyway Project is an initiative started by the David Suzuki Foundation. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

“I learned quite a bit from David Suzuki,” said Collier.

“Then last year, I planted a pollinator garden at my own home and that was a pretty good testing ground. But I wanted to take it into the community.”

Earlier this year, Collier approached the Kootenay Region Association for Community Living and was approved to plant a wildflower garden at Spectrum Farms. Ten plots of roughly 200 sq. ft. have been allocated for her project, supported by a $1,000 grant from FortisBC. Volunteers Marg Meyer, Kuya Minogue, and R. Don Peel also stepped up to help transform the area.

For a flower garden to be pollinator friendly, 80 per cent of the plants should be native species. In the Creston Valley, some native perennials include the woolly sunflower, milkweed, lupine, lewis flax, red columbine, goldenrod, and blanketflower.

Blanket flower is a native wildflower species in the Kootenay region. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

Blanket flower is a native wildflower species in the Kootenay region. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

READ MORE: Plant for pollinators to get ahead of No Mow May, says Nature Conservancy of Canada

“Only native plants have truly everything pollinators need to survive and populate,” said Collier.

Pollinators include more than just honey bees, of which there are 500 species in B.C. alone. Other critters to consider are hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, beetles, and bats. All of these creatures feed on plant nectar and could benefit from more pollinator gardens.

At Spectrum Farms, the project has also served as a learning opportunity for local students. Groups of Grades 8/9 from Homelinks and K-Grade 2 from Wildflower Creston have stopped by to help arrange the garden and plant seeds.

A Wildflower students helps garden at Spectrum Farms. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

A Wildflower students helps garden at Spectrum Farms. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

“I’m hoping that the students will see that it’s not really that hard to create something more natural and pollinator friendly,” said Homelinks teacher Marc Bieri.

“This is also a great way to get them involved and inspire a bit of community pride.”

To learn more about how to help pollinators through the Butterflyway Project, visit davidsuzuki.org/take-action/act-locally/butterflyway.

Caroline Collier shows two students how to plant Douglas aster seeds. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

Caroline Collier shows two students how to plant Douglas aster seeds. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

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