The Summer Solstice will soon be upon us but there are two more reasons to celebrate the month of June. Across our nation, June is National Pollinator Month and in the Garden State it is Native Plant Appreciation Month.
NJ Audubon has a fun and easy way for you to celebrate both pollinators and native plants! By providing food, water, cover, a place to raise young, and using sustainable practices, you can get your garden recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. How will this help? Scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of pollinators like birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles and many other insects. Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants depend on animal pollinators to reproduce and more than 3,500 species of native bees help increase crop yields. Let’s celebrate these helpful animals by planting natives in your garden!
Due to human activity such as development, conversion of native habitats, and irresponsible pesticide use, our native pollinator populations are struggling. The wide-spread presence of non-native plants throughout the landscape may offer food to pollinators but that is like eating a candy bar instead of well-balanced meal. The candy bar gives you a short-term surge of energy but doesn’t provide all the right nutrients that the well-balanced meal would supply to your body for that long migration or creating the next generation. Planting natives is like offering wildlife a buffet of well-balanced meals that will aid in their survival and their offspring’s survival. By helping them, you’re helping yourself as well! Having beautiful songbirds, hummingbirds, and butterflies visit your Certified Wildlife Habitat will boost the enjoyment that you get from your garden.
Here in New Jersey, we are well on our way to reaching 7,000 Certified Wildlife Habitats which support twice the amount of wildlife than traditionally landscaped properties. Certification is possible wherever you live, learn, play, work, and worship so what are you waiting for?! Whether on your apartment balcony, farm, school yard, place of worship, and beyond, you can make a positive impact for our beneficial pollinators.
Unsure of how to begin? Start by visiting one of NJ Audubon’s Nature Centers. There you will find bird feeders, houses, baths, gardening books, and more that will get you on your way to planting the garden of your and pollinators dreams! Planting with a purpose by using native plants can increase the abundance and diversity of native wildlife and help ensure their future and the future of our food system.
Do you want one more reason to celebrate? Certify your garden as a Wildlife Habitat during the month of June and receive a discount when you purchase a sign to display in your yard. So, dig in and let’s grow together!
Kristin T. Hock
Habitat Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Audubon