The power of urban gardens [letter] | Letters to the Editor
A team of ecologists in the UK recently measured the supply of nectar available to plant pollinators in urban areas, farmland and nature reserves. They found that nectar sugar production did not differ between the three landscapes and that urban areas are hotspots of floral nectar source diversity, with gardens supporting supply.
As a country mouse turned city mouse, I was thrilled and surprised to learn how hospitable urban areas are for planting pollinators.
I should not have been surprised by these findings. When I walk around my neighborhood, I see flowers on every property – on bushes, trees, and in gardens, raised beds, window boxes, rain gardens, and a city park. I also see the diversity of flowering plants over the days and seasons, and I now pay more attention to the critters that visit the flowers in my garden: bees, of course, but also the variety of ants, wasps and butterflies.
The authors of the UK study noted that although many plants in urban areas are non-native species, “there is no intrinsic reason to assume that non-native plant species are less valuable to most insects. floriculture than their native counterparts”.
Nonetheless, there are good reasons to grow native plants, and you can buy them online and at nearby nurseries. If you are already growing flowering plants, kudos to you. If not, consider growing some and adding colorful threads to the web of life that covers planet Earth.