Text and photos by Katherine Forster

Faith communities can participate by tucking some native plants into their current garden beds

After a successful 2018 mini-pilot donating “pollinator plants” to faith and spiritual communities (thanks to the generosity of Wild Pollinator Partners and Fletcher Wildlife Garden nursery), Faith & the Common Good (FCG) was able to launch a full “Pollinator in our Gardens” program with funding support from Ottawa Community Foundation in summer 2019.

This program works well with FCG’s current Greening Sacred Spaces programming as many faith and spiritual communities share a calling to protect our ecosystems and have a passion for community service.  FCG helps support faith communities who want to make a difference through “caring for creation” and who can be inspiring role models for the common good.

The 2019 Ottawa FCG Chapter’s newly funded garden program ran from May through to October this year.  FCG was able to support over a dozen local faith community gardens by connecting with the hard working volunteer gardeners who gratefully accepted new native plants to add to their garden beds.

For many of these local volunteers, gardening is a passion and they are deeply aware of the spiritual comfort that gardens provide to both parishioners and the general community who get to enjoy the beautiful, colourful landscapes. And as a gardener, they also have a connection to the land and want to do more for the local ecology and the wildlife that depends on healthy resilient greenspaces. They value all the hard work done by our wild pollinators!

Other contributors to this year’s program included those who generously donated over 170 native plants. We want to thank Wild Pollinator Partners, Canadian Wildlife Federation, and the Canadian Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL) for providing a multitude of wildflowers that will now bloom in 14 new locations across the city. In total, 234 native perennial flowers were added to both well-established ornamental gardens and also to new biodiverse pollinator gardens.  Corners and small patches were transformed by new blooms for urban landscapes along with some new colourful standout garden beds that took centre stage on the property.

St Basils parking lot median garden

Here are a few details about some of these projects that other faith communities may want to duplicate:

  • At St. Basil Catholic Church, the gardener had already established a fantastic drought-resistant garden on a median in the parking lot. She added some new pollinator plants this summer including beardtongue, Pearly Everlasting, and asters.
  • Queenswood United Church added new wildflowers alongside their well-loved sunny community garden beside their church to support wild indigenous insects who pollinate their crops.
  • At St. Columba Anglican Church, the volunteers created a mini-meadow system in a small patch between a driveway and a brick wall that enjoys morning sun.
  • St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Wellington Street downtown tucked some Golden Alexanders, Blazing Star, Beebalm, and other flowers into their garden this fall. Yes you can even plant these native perennial plants in autumn for blooms next year!

New native plants for a meadow garden at St Columba

These gardens were well distributed across the city – from Orleans (in the east) to Nepean (in the west) and from Mooney’s Bay to Centretown. It was great partnering with all levels of gardeners from beginners (including school children) to master gardeners, who all possessed a keen enthusiasm to diversify the plants on their property.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the program this year and thank you to all our program funders and supporters including Wild Pollinator Partners!

Faith & the Common Good is a national organization that works with faith and spiritual communities in their efforts to become more sustainable and ecological. The NGO offers many free resources online and also establishes annual programming to support Ottawa communities. Find out more about current Outdoor Greening programming in Ottawa.


One response to “Pollinators in our spiritual gardens”

  1. Our Trinity Church of the Nazarene is starting a pollinator/butterfly garden this year. Are you still sharing plants? We have a very active community garden and the Church has given us permission to plant flowers around the building. We would prefer to plant bee/butterfly/bird friendly flowers.

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