Neighborday Communities

Neighborday Idea #3: Plant a Pollinator Pathway in Your Neighborhood

by Irene Peña

April 21, 2015

April 25 marks the fifth anniversary of Neighborday, a global block party we invented to get people talking (and partying) with the people who live around them. Leading up to the big day, we’re sharing creative ways organizations in our native Los Angeles are connecting with the folks who share their walls and fences.

Stay tuned this week for more ideas about how to celebrate. #LetsNeighbor

Neighborday 2015 Idea #3:

Plant a garden pathway for butterflies, hummingbirds, and honeybees—your hard-working, pollinating neighbors.

Image via Flickr user Bill Gracey

At Proyecto Jardin, where I serve as Executive Director, we run a community garden in Boyle Heights, California. For Earth Day and Neighborday 2015, we’re celebrating by reopening our eastside garden for renovation.

We really want to focus on boosting our population of pollinators. Attracting species that help pollinate the area isn’t just a good idea for community gardens like ours. They’re beautiful to look at and can help encourage beneficial plants in any neighborhood. 

Here’s what we’re going to keep in mind this Neighborday weekend. Hope it’s helpful for you: 

1. Identify, inventory, and label milkweed.

Image by Flickr user Charles Dawley

Protect this pollinator-friendly plant—don’t pull it up just because it’s called a weed. We plan to relocate some of our milkweed from walking paths to safe areas throughout the garden, where they will not be trampled inadvertently. Milkweed plants will seed themselves and pop up voluntarily throughout the year in random places throughout the garden.

Image by Flickr user docentjoyce

It’s a great plant because it helps provide monarch caterpillars with an ample food supply as the population passes through southern California on its long migration, pollinating plants along its journey. Monarch butterflies are experiencing quite a bit of stress due to climate change and the drought, so we want to help out.

2. Feed the hummingbirds.

Image by Flickr user Brandon Oh

Hummingbirds aren’t just lovely to look at—they also help pollinate our fruit and vegetable crops in the garden. Hummingbirds love bright red flowers with a “pitcher” of nectar they can dip into. We’re going to keep an eye out for scarlet salvia, especially. It’s a native California plant that’s drought-, salt-, and deer-tolerant, and works especially well in rock gardens.

3. Think of the bees.

Image via Flickr user @sage_solar

The bees in our garden love our huge purple basil shrub, which remains in bloom year round, providing a delightful home and food source to hundreds of bees.

English lavender is another favorite of bees. Perennial herbs like lavender do well with a good prune in late summer or early fall, after their summer growth spurt. We like to keep our established herbs to a rather compact size to allow greater variety of herbs in a small space. 

We’re celebrating all weekend at Proyecto Jardin. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, we hope you’ll stop by Boyle Heights on Saturday for Neighborday, or on Sunday for Earth Day. Either way, you can pick up a few more tips about encouraging pollinators to stop by your neighborhood.

Proyecto Jardin is a community garden in Boyle Heights, CA that is focused on the principles of sustainability to mobilize collective action for food justice. The garden is designed to be a laboratory to grow food, build leaders, prepare young and old to improve food systems, and organize the community for a more livable Boyle Heights.

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Neighborday Idea #3: Plant a Pollinator Pathway in Your Neighborhood