Town adds pollinator garden to Ridder’s Pond Park

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Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth and the Town Board have taken the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge in which they committed to actions to help the declining monarch butterfly as well as other pollinators. Native pollinators like butterflies, bees, flower flies and beetles play an important role in pollinating agricultural crops as well as the plants found in our community.

This year the Town was awarded $5,000 in funding from the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District to plant two pollinator gardens as well as native trees and shrubs at Ridder’s Pond Park in New Hyde Park. The funding will also be used to create an educational sign on the types of plants and pollinators found in the garden and their benefits.

“We are committed to ensuring that our pollinator population has the habitat they need to survive,” said Bosworth. “Native pollinators are an important part of our ecosystem and are essential for the production of vegetables and fruits, medicine and so much more. We all need to do our part to help protect against pollinator declines.”

The gardens at Ridder’s Pond Park were planted in early July by the Town’s Parks and Recreation and Department of Planning and Environmental Protection staff. It is comprised of a variety of perennial plants that provide nectar and pollen to pollinators, as well as shelter, nesting materials and food for other wildlife like beneficial insects and spiders, birds and mammals.

Plants included: butterfly weed, a host plant for the monarch butterfly; rough goldenrod, which provides a late nectar source for migrating monarchs and bees going into hibernation, and purple coneflower, a good nectar and pollen source as well as a source of seeds for birds during the fall and winter.

Native trees and shrubs, including serviceberry, flowering dogwood and witch hazel, were also planted to provide resources for pollinators and other wildlife species. Efforts are already paying off as many bees and butterflies have been seen collecting pollen and nectar on the blooms and monarch caterpillars have been feeding on butterfly weed plants.

“The Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District is pleased to have funded the planting of pollinator gardens, along with native trees and shrubs at Ridder’s Pond Park” said District Manager David Ganim. “The hard work completed by the Town of North Hempstead will significantly support local pollinators and increase biodiversity through the use of native plants.”

The town plans to continue helping preserve pollinator and wildlife habitat by planting native plants and reducing the amount of pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides) used on its landscapes.

No pesticides are used in town pollinator gardens. In the coming weeks the town will be installing two more native plantings, including multiple pollinator gardens at the “Yes We Can” Community Center and a multitude of native trees and shrubs at Manhasset Valley Park (funds provided by the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Trees for Tribs grant).

The town urges community members to participate in the preservation of our native pollinator habitats. Building your own pollinator garden with native plants will provide food and nesting resources to our pollinators. Native pollinators need these plants which are accustomed to our soils and climate. These plants do not need fertilizer or much water after they are established. If you do not have space in your yard for a pollinator garden consider using a container.

Citizen Science is another way to help contribute. This year, the Town is participating in the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey (ESNPS) and the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP). The pollinator survey aims to determine the conservation status of a wide array of native insect pollinators throughout New York, while the monarch project looks to determine the population health of monarchs across North America.

For additional information on helping monarch butterflies and other pollinators, as well as how you can participate in the ESNPS or MLMP, visit: www.northhempsteadny.gov/sustainability. Stop by Ridder’s Pond Park today to see the newest pollinator gardens!

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