Can you imagine the journey the Monarch Butterfly makes each season. After overwintering in Mexico, Monarchs in early spring. Taking as many as five generations to reach their Northern destinations, the Monarchs need meaningful waystations along their migration routes. Big or small, 100’s of acres or 100 square feet, the Pollinator waystations prove to be vital stops, serving as stepping stones during the journey.
As part of the St Louis Butterfly Byway project, we are caring for ten of these very waystations along the St. Louis riverfront. Who would have thought meaningful pollinator habitats could be developed in downtown St. Louis?
Three years ago, Native Landscape Solutions, Inc. installed many native plants in stormwater basins and seeded various native seed mixes at the new Mercy Virtual Care facility in Chesterfield. It is a beautiful modern building within a beautiful natural setting. As we all know, native plants take a good three years or more to really get established. And now, just starting the third year, Mercy’s native plants are really showing off. Much of their campus is alive with blooming Penstemon, Monarda, pale purple coneflowers, milkweed, black-eyed susans, rattlesnale master, Coreopsis and many others. It is very gratifying to see the fruits of our labor (we also provide knowledgeable stewardship of the site) as there are very few qualified native plant contractors who can handle this work. Enjoy the pictures!, especially the milkweed with the tiny Monarch caterpillar.
What’s missing? Look close – even if you could see the entire body of water you would not find a goose on site. That’s right- no ill tempered fowl- no foul tempered migrating birds either. Why not? No mowed edge- no easy out onto grass to walk around and graze. It’s not always the solution- but given a choice, those big Canada flying carp prefer short grass. We are currently working on several projects specifically calling out native pollinator mixes to start at the waters edge.
After all- it beats trying to get that nasty green stuff off your shoes!
To Take Over the World: If one were to sit in a darkened laboratory creating the most invasive nasty plant one could create we would agree on the potential for at least three of those plants: Bush Honeysuckle, Kudzu and Callery Pear. Yes, I said it, Callery Pear. Remember not so long ago- say the mid 1980’s when everyone had a Bradford Pear in their front yard, and every spring, during a heavy thunderstorm with high winds – they split? Often sheering off 50% of the tree or more? It was a big issue and one that needed to be corrected. So our Horticultural industry went back to their fields and starting growing pear cultivars with better branching angles- stronger trees, tougher trees- ones that could handle our midwest wind storms. Out of the fields marched Aristrocat, Whitehouse, RedSpire, Capital and others….worthy replacements for the weaker inferior cultivar known as the Bradford. Now enter in the dark mad scientist scheming to take over the world. What we did not know was all pear cultivars are self sterile- in other words they do not produce a viable seed- thus no natural reproduction. Only the Bradford was in our communities previous – a self sterile, flowering ornamental tree with white spring flowers and great rich fall color. But, with the introduction of the newer better, stronger cultivars we introduced other self sterile cultivars. They too are only self sterile- ( the sinister plot reveled) they can cross pollinate- between other cultivars within the same species. Shazam!! Flowering pears of all sorts of origins and locations cross pollinating and producing a viable seed hidden in a tasty fruit morsel. So, courtesy of our native pollinators and song bird species we now have flowering Callery Pears everywhere- and I mean everywhere!
So you think there is reason to doubt me? Take notice in your drive in town or to work the high medians and right of ways over the next couple of days. When you finish admiring all the white flowering trees along our highways and parks, be advised- those are the fruits of the mad scientist from the laboratory. Not hardly one of those have been planted by man- most everyone has come from the result cross pollinating and the introduction of another invasive species into our beautiful state of Missouri.
When the World Wearies, and Society ceases to satisfy- there is always the Garden.