First signs of Spring 9. March 2020
The Mourning Cloak is one of the first butterflies to emerge from its hibernation hiding spot, even before the snow has completely melted.
Our pollinator population is in big trouble and because of their population decline, so are our birds.
We are here to help bring back more bees, birds, and butterflies
by creating food and habitat for our wildlife
Plants are social beings who prefer to live in community, not just with other plants, but with pollinators, ants, and other wild creatures (including humans!). Learn about design principles for creating resilient, wildlife-friendly, layered ecological plant communities—whether a small sunny pocket meadow, the roof of a shed, a pollinator hedgerow, or a large front yard forest—inspired by meadows, alvars, shrublands, and forests. Start small.
Begin a conversation with your land.
Joyce Hostyn is a Master Gardener, Permaculture Designer and rewilder who dreams of city streets lined with fruit and nut trees, wild parks and wild yards. She explores what it means to be in conversation with the edible forest garden on her lawn-free quarter acre lot. Joyce coaches people on foodscaping and wildscaping as a new approach to gardening in a changing climate. She helped design and plant Kingston's first two public food forests and now has her sights set on afforesting our city with Indigenous Little Forests. Her front yard Little Forest was featured in the Kingston Whig Standard.
We are interconnected with nature, and with each other. What we do to the planet and its living creatures, we do to ourselves.
Quote DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION
I was amazed by how little help nature needed to bounce back from sterile turf to a lively community of countless bees of all sizes, butterflies of all colours, and birds singing different songs. It all began two years ago, with an all-lawn garden and delivery of some native plants from YOURLEAF.org. Within the first summer, the tiny plants flourished into breathtaking beauty.
It was thrilling how much beauty and joy came with native plants and the wildlife they attract.
Governments and scientists warn that pollinators are declining at an unsustainable rate. "Insect populations have declined worldwide by 45 percent in the last 40 years" urges Jode Roberts, a Senior Strategist at the David Suzuki Foundation. Without pollinators, humans could barely survive for 4 years.
Functioning ecosystems get increasingly converted into cities. We create lawns that consume more fertilizer, herbicides, and insecticides than our agricultural industries. Today cities and monocultural agriculture take up so much space that it just makes sense to put as much nature as we possibly can back into our gardens, schools and public places.
Realizing this, I became passionate about reaching out and sharing my experience. In early 2020 a couple of neighbours and I decided to start the
This wonderful article puts science behind my experience and summarizes why and how we can make a difference.
Interested in adding more pollinator-friendly shrubs, trees, and flowers?
Do you have a sunny spot that can grow some native flowers? Maybe you are thinking of converting some lawn, adding some raised beds or adding some native flowers to the existing mix. Native plants fit in with any style of garden.
Maybe you want to change your shady woodland edges into a native wildflower paradise.
Native plants have co-evolved with the beneficial insects and the birds
of our area to sustain our ecosystem.
Native plants are the one essential prerequisite to animal diversity by enabling a complex food web.
They will bloom at exactly the right time to feed them with their nectar and pollen. They are shaped to take advantage of native insects' physiology.
They feed local and migrating birds with seeds, berries and insect biomass that the birds recognize as their food.
Native plants can create ecosystems that don't rely on a gardener to keep them in balance.
They are adapted to our local climate, therefore require less care and water.
They are adapted to our soils, therefore don't need fertilizer.
They are adapted to our native insect communities and support predatory insects. Therefore, they don't need pesticides.
In the time of COVID-19
Our main aim is to get the community together. Circumstances, however, make this impossible at the moment. While we practice social distancing we need to find new ways to transform our community.
Creating a pollinator patch in your own front yard or garden is a wonderful way to contribute to our community of humans and bees alike.
Please join the Cliffcrest Butterflyway Facebook group to connect, post ideas or information, get information, exchange seeds, and take action.
Put your unused items to good use.
We will use them at local schools.
rain barrels, compost bins, garden tools,
untreated or pressure-treated wood,
chicken wire, watering hoses,
plastic potting containers of all sizes, potting soil,
photos of native plants, birds, butterflies, bees and other wildlife.
Insects are the most efficient life form to transform solar energy, that is captured in plant material, into protein. They build the base in all terrestrial food chains and are key to feeding any higher form of life, including us.
There are over 360 species of wild native bees in Toronto.
Wild bees don't produce honey and don't live in hives.
They are solitary and harmless.
There are 110 species of butterflies in Toronto.
Butterfly caterpillars rely on the
specific leaf chemistry of the host plants
they have co-evolved with and often can only eat one kind of plant, called a larval host plant.
Lepidopterans, comprise of butterflies and moths, struggle the most of all insects.
Juicy caterpillars are a great food source for birds.
Only 2% of caterpillars survive to become a butterfly.
96% of all birds rely on protein-rich insects to raise their young, even if they are herbivores the rest of the year. Check out this article by the Bird Watcher's Digest.
Science shows that in years with higher insect biomass, the bird population increases tremendously.
Dead trees provide excellent habitat for insects in all life stages and offer a rich buffet to our woodpeckers.
In fall and winter the healthiest food for birds are seeds from dead flower heads as well as fruits and berries from native shrubs and trees.
Birds need a shrub layer for nesting in spring and to hide in winter.
Window collisions kill one-third of all birds in North America each year. Keeping windows unwashed during migration helps to avoid reflection of nature in the windows and therefore collisions.
The biodiversity of an ecosystem is greater, the higher the number of species it contains. The greater the biodiversity is, the more resilient and self-perpetuating/healing it is. Growing a lot of different native plants will require less maintenance, no pesticides, and no fertilizers.
All native plants support a higher number of other species in their ecosystem than any introduced plant. Another reason to purposely grow native plants.
The size of a habitat co-relates directly with the number of species that area is able to carry sustainably. We need to create habitat corridors in cities and connect them with natural areas to increase the overall resistance of ecosystems. Everyone counts and makes a big difference in sustaining our wildlife.
Ornamentals are purposely offered because they do not feed local insects, consequently, they do not contribute to the local ecosystem.
Invasive plants have been introduced for ornamental or agricultural purposes. They are very well adapted to the local climate and spread rapidly. When we buy them for our gardens we can not control their spread into the wild. With no natural pest, they are so successful that they outcompete native plants and can cause a complete ecological collapse of ecosystems. By helping to remove invasive plants in your garden and public places you assist in restoring the balance of natural ecosystems. Invasive plants are still offered in garden centres and it is up to us to be informed and not to buy them.
If we fuel the plant importing industry by buying exotic, ornamental plants, we increase the risk of introducing fungi, bacteria, and insects that can destroy entire species. The almost complete eradication of tree species like Elms and Chestnuts caused by Dutch Elm Disease and American Chestnut Blight had enormous consequences for the entire North American ecosystem they supported. This is why it is important to resist buying exotic plants.