Home & Garden

School garden is a lesson for all

Chandler Watkins plants a black-eyed Susan at Whitewater Middle School.
Chandler Watkins plants a black-eyed Susan at Whitewater Middle School. Green Teacher Network

Four square feet. That’s all it takes to create a special place in your landscape to delight butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Of course, you could devote more space to plants that feed these beneficial creatures. But the square Monarch and Pollinator Garden Design comes from the Green Teacher Network, which will use it to build schoolyard gardens.

The schoolyard gardens are for learning, but they also will support at-risk wildlife that is losing habitats to development and to farming that focuses on a less diverse range of crops.

We can re-create that same design in our own yards and get the same benefits for ourselves and the wildlife we depend on to pollinate our own gardens and farms. Download the layout at the Green Teacher Network’s website, gtncharlotte.org.

The design includes eight nectar-producing plants that are native to our region. Those plants will bring colorful blooms from early spring to fall, starting with early-blooming golden Alexanders and butterfly milkweed.

Summer bloomers for this design are black-eyed Susan, joe-pye weed and purple coneflower. The last flush of color through late fall comes from narrowleaf mountain mint, bee balm and wrinkleleaf goldenrod.

Milkweed and wrinkleleaf goldenrod are included for the sake of monarch butterflies. They eat only milkweed while producing their offspring. They prefer wrinkleleaf goldenrod on their migration south in the fall.

It’s good to know that school children in our area will get lessons in the garden. But they’re not the only ones who would enjoy having more butterflies and hummingbirds outside our windows.