Planting for Nature: The Stone Harbor Wildflower Meadow

By Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director The Wetlands Institute

The triangle near 118th St between 3rd Ave and Dune Drive has been transformed into an oasis for butterflies, songbirds, hummingbirds, and pollinators of all types. Thanks to a collaboration between the Borough of Stone Harbor’s Natural Resource Committee and The Wetlands Institute, the area has been planted with more than 1100 native perennial plants. The plants were especially selected to provide benefits to wildlife and are suitable for growing in our area. Once established, the plants are drought resistant and wont need to be watered. Twenty-seven species of flowering plants and two species of grasses were planted. The plants include four species of milkweed to support the nectar and food resources for Monarch Butterflies. Several species produce large flowers and then seeds that support pollinators (bees and butterflies) that feed on the flower’s nectar and then songbirds including American Goldfinches that feed on the seeds. The plants were selected to bloom from early spring through late fall so that there will always be a blaze of color for us and food resources for wildlife. Several species of asters and goldenrods were included to extend the flowering season well into October to provide fuel for migrating Monarchs.

The specific area was selected because it is along an important migration route for Monarchs and was a large open space. The meadow is more than 3,000 square feet in size. The project was funded by the Borough of Stone Harbor. The plants were grown by a local native plant nursery, Clemenson Farms, to our specifications and importantly do not contain insecticides that are known to contribute to mortality of pollinators especially honey bees. Fourteen volunteers, three Wetlands Institute staff, and two Borough Public Works staff planted the meadow on May 25th in about 3 hours. The first Monarch butterfly showed up within 30 minutes of the last plants going in the ground. If you build it – they will come.

map of the meadow and a complete list of plants, and plant descriptions can be found on the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary website.  Look for educational signage at the site in a few months and be sure to stop by and see how native plants and gardening for wildlife can be included in your yard.

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