Three public demonstration gardens near Centreville, Delaware—at Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church, Brandywine Creek State Park, and Kennett Township Barkingfield Park—have been created as an outreach to homeowners, conveying how to convert part of their lawns to pollinator gardens - for personal enrichment and for reducing our societal debt to Nature.
At issue is our cultural devotion to expansive lawn as a message of aesthetics and personal pride that has deprived Nature of home habitat for countless creatures, little creatures “that make the world go.” Dr. Douglas Tallamy
“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature, unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.” Hubert Reeves
The core theme of these gardens revolves around planting native plants for native pollinators. This simple theme has profound value; we should replace lawn space and popular ornamental plants (many of which are invasive) with plants that have evolved with the insect populations that forage on them as they have done so over millennia. The goal is to nurture this connection between plants and animals, reaching beyond insects as bird food.
The three primary gardens involved in this project each has an attentive maintenance/monitor group and an internal dialogue plan to keep each garden thriving. The goal is to achieve landscape appeal and aesthetics, but matched with citizen science and data records of butterflies, bees, caterpillars, and even birds as dividends of the volunteers’ work and devotion. They are not experts but rather students of shared learning.
It's interesting that younger minds are more easily engaged with the insect life than the details of blooms. It would seem that their attention span is lengthened when they actually connect with the purpose and goals of the activity. Catching butterflies in a net and cooling them in a refrigerator permits us to exam insects in detail as they warm to activity and fly away. It’s truly a spiritual experience.
Don Coats is an Elder at Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church.