Leaside is blooming, but is it buzzing? 

The Leaside Gardener

Butterfly on flower. Photo: iStocky by Getty.
Photo: iStocky by Getty.

“Monarch butterflies could disappear.” “Bats headed for extinction.” “Rusty patch bumble bee now an endangered species.”

Headlines like these opened our eyes to just how little we know about pollinators and the serious state many are in.

These tiny and often unseen heroes of the plant world are responsible for healthy eco systems, a third of our food supply and plant products like fibres, dyes, essential oils, medicines and spices. But they’ve been robbed of their natural habitat, poisoned by pesticides (neonicotinoids), fed junk food from non-native species, malnourished by mono-culture and struggle with the extremes of climate change.

Of all the environmental issues today, this one has touched the hearts and minds of gardeners. Everyone wants to help, but few know where to start. Many concerned and dedicated people are now showing us that there are things we can do to fix this problem and it all starts in our own yards.

One of those dedicated people is Toronto’s very own Monarch Crusader, Carol Pasternak. She will join the Leaside Garden Society on Thursday, June 14, to show how to attract butterflies to your garden. “It is my hope that the raising of monarch butterflies will be your gateway into the natural world around you, and that by loving it, you will preserve it.” Her words say it all.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation put their concerns into action too when they partnered with Medallion Plants. Together they developed five different plant kits of customized neonic-free pollinator plants designed to bring bees, butterflies and birds to your garden. What a perfect Father’s Day gift. They’re available right now, at Davenport Garden Centre on Bayview Ave., where you’ll find the Blooms for Busy Bee Kit, the Hummingbird kit and the Pollinator plant pack for Monarchs.

Speaking of Monarchs, did you know Toronto is looking to become a Monarch-friendly city and is now the first Bee City in Canada? The green metallic sweat bee known as Agapostemon virescens is now our official bee.

There’s still more we can do right here in Leaside. As I pass by Trace Manes Park, I can’t help imagining a big drift of wildflowers. The David Suzuki Foundation must have been thinking the same way when it created the Butterflyway Project. This is a citizen-led movement that grows corridors of habitats for bees and butterflies throughout neighbourhoods in parks, school grounds, daycare centres…almost anywhere.

We focus on only a handful of these tiny and often unseen heroes of the plant world known as pollinators but there are literally thousands. Any insect or animal that transfers pollen from the male anther to the female stigma on a flowering plant is a pollinator.

How about helping to turn Leaside into the pollinator paradise of Toronto? You’re bound to get a real buzz from your efforts.

About Debora Kuchme 64 Articles
After a 30-year career as a fashion designer, Debora worked at Horticultural Design for over a decade. Now with her concerns about climate change, she hopes to help local gardeners find positive solutions for a greener and healthier neighbourhood. As a board member of the Bayview Leaside BIA, she created the Bayview Pixies, a volunteer group introducing sustainable gardening practice to Bayview.