Zoo Connected to Other Habitats in a Network of Native Plants to Support Pollinator
One important plant that the Zoo has included in its gardens is milkweed (Asclepias), both a food source and a host plant for Monarch eggs laid on the underside of the leaves.
Although the Zoo is lushly planted with pollinator-friendly species throughout the grounds, special gardens in addition to the Butterfly Gardens include the Sensory Garden, where volunteers maintain plants with fragrance and interesting textures, the Browse Garden, where foodstuff and plants used for enrichment are raised for the animals, the Rose Arbors, and the rare and beautiful plants found in the Victorian Greenhouse. There are also rain gardens that collect water runoff in porous earth, preventing it from reaching nearby waterways, and ponds placed to provide habitat for amphibians.
“We want to educate guests so they know that what they do in their own gardens at home is making a positive impact for beneficial insects and birds,” said Dancho. He recommends that at least two thirds of the garden should be native plants, using either trees, shrubs or flowering plants as a food source. Just as important is to provide clean water, and foregoing pesticides.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo joins dozens of towns and properties throughout the state listed as Connecticut Pathways. More information can be found at pollinator-pathway.org
About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Pollinator Gardens
The Zoo has seven butterfly/pollinator gardens, and several other planting areas that use native plants to attract butterflies. Native plantings are also used in and around animal habitats to provide colorful flowers for guests and nectar sources for pollinators. Plants that help pollinators in more than one way are extremely helpful, such as Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed). Butterfly Weed is a native plant used throughout the life cycle of monarchs, from chrysalis through adulthood. It is also a nectar source for a wide range of other butterflies and beneficial pollinators.
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