Digger bees, bat boxes and butterfly gardens: prepping your Revelstoke garden for summer

How you can help your Revelstoke garden help beneficial species and the environment.

A bountiful Southside garden. Photo: Aaron Orlando

The snowbanks in Revelstoke are still on the melt, but spring is on the horizon! As the days get longer and the sun grows warmer, there are several things anyone living in Revelstoke can do to help the nature that surrounds us thrive this growing season.

Pollinators are an environmental necessity. Bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects — as well as various birds — all act as pollinators and they can be easily tempted into your yard. If you don’t mow your lawn, or if you have a space free to be a wild zone, sprinkle wildflower seeds throughout your yard. Alternatively, ditching some turf and planting flowers of your choice in plant beds or pots is just as good.

When it comes to bees, solitary species are incredibly effective pollinators. In an attempt to encourage bee populations in Revelstoke, the North Columbia Environmental Society (NCES) is hosting a workshop in mid to late April, where participants are able to build a pollinator hotel suitable for cavity nesters such as mason and carpenter bees. If buying or building a pollinator hotel isn’t on the cards for you, consider leaving a patch of dirt in a sunny location. Cover the ground with twigs and leaves, making it suitable for ground pollinators such as bumble and digger bees.

Bats are well worth encouraging in your space. Bats are great reducers of nuisance bugs like mosquitoes. Bats indigenous to the Revelstoke area have found their populations plummeting across Canada due to White Nose Syndrome. In fact, the Kootenay Community Bat Project encourages people to report all bat sightings. Bat boxes can be purchased at the local farmers market. If you prefer to build your own, the NCES is hosting a bat-home building workshop Saturday, June 2nd.

If you plan on having a vegetable garden, look into buying seeds from a reputable seller. Local health store Mountain Goodness Natural Foods carries seeds from Salt Spring Seeds, a company specializing in heritage and heirloom seeds.

Finally, as the grass begins to flourish, consider leaving it to grow a little longer this year. Longer grass requires less water to sustain it. Leave dandelions, which are both early food for many pollinators and suitable for human consumption. You can add them to any salad for a splash of colour, make dandelion tea, or enjoy the greens. Avoid using toxic weed killers, which adversely affect pollinators and eventually leach into the earth.

Xeriscaping, a type of landscaping that utilizes less water than a traditional grass garden, is an exciting option. The NCES will be hosting a xeriscaping workshop this spring in partnership with the Okanagan Xeriscaping Association and the Revelstoke Community Housing Society, the date has yet to be determined.

As the days get longer and the temperature goes above freezing, enjoy planning the little ways you can help the environment and enjoy your green space.

For the most up to date information regarding NCES projects, classes or workshop, head over to northcolumbia.org.