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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Friday
Jul232010

A Park For Pollinators

I used to think that the reduced sensibility to flower aromas in the summer air was directly related to growing older. I genuinely believed that my olfactory senses were becoming less acute with age. That is, until I came across a study, done in 2008, by the University of Virginia. Researchers there discovered that the dispersal in the air of garden fragrances have been compromised by air pollutants. Consequently, not only do we experience a weaker aroma from our flowers but also, the bees that pollinate plants are doing less work, because they are less attracted to the flowers.

In the 19th century it was determined that molecules of flower aroma could travel a distance of up to 1 Km away from a plant. Today, that distance has been reduced to 200 or 300 meters. Researchers estimate that about 90% of floral aromas disappeared with the arrival of the automobile and the exponential growth of heavy industry. Some scientists link this decrease in the intensity of aromas in the air to the decrease in the number of bumblebees that are necessary for pollination of food plants. Without the scent of the flower, the bees are not drawn to its nectar, their source of food. Without the food, they die.

In an attempt to improve the breeding of bees, the Canadian city of Guelph, Ontario has developed an innovative program to encourage the propagation of pollinating insects.. One hundred hectares of landfill has been designated as a Pollinators Park. This is the first public park anywhere in the world dedicated to attracting pollinating insects and birds. The former city dump has been transformed into a prairie, a preferred habit where pollinating insects such as bees, can flourish.

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Reader Comments (3)

Wow! What an interesting post. I'm going to have to track down the original paper and read it. Thank you for sharing this!

July 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Tychonievich

I had no idea! And then you have all these new cultivars that look pretty, but have no scent as a result. Viva the dump as prairie!

July 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin

How fortunate I feel to have come upon this post. Now that summer is winding down, I’ve contemplated overhauling one of my beds, choked full of Gooseneck Loosestrife. I’m planning for plants that are known to attract bees, but have been leaning towards some of their less fragrant hybrids based on looks. Thanks for the reminder that sometimes gardening for beauty also means making a more ideal space for the wildlife that will inhabit it.

August 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

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