The Native Plant and Pollinator Toolkits
For each Case Study (scientifically researched) site, as well as the Birches School demonstration site, a ‘Toolkit’ will be developed and published in the Lincoln Pollinator Action Plan report. Each site will serve as a representative landscape typology for other similar sites across the Town of Lincoln. By applying the planting designs, plant lists, implementation guidelines and maintenance strategies from each site to ecologically similar sites, the ‘building blocks’ for a town-wide pollinator corridor will have been created. LLCT is excited to publish these toolkits so that this “pollinator pathway” can be expanded throughout Lincoln by community groups and private landowners, and adopted in surrounding communities through our affiliation with the Native Pollinator Task Force of the MetroWest Conservation Alliance.
Toolkits will include:
- planting palettes and plant lists
- habitat establishment, and management and maintenance strategies
- meadow establishment and management guidelines
- deer exclusion/plant protection strategies
- invasive plant management strategies
What makes these toolkits different from other planting kits or seed mixes?
Most pollinator kits have focused on overall abundance –“seeing lots of bees” — rather than the wide range of wild pollinators seen in a biodiverse and resilient ecosystem. The same problem arises from habitats planted with generic pollinator seed packets. While we see “lots of flowers,” those flowers are often providing resources for only a few common species of pollinators, and they don’t satisfy the full nectar, pollen, and nesting requirements of a functionally diverse habitat.
The Toolkits designed by Evan Abramson of LandscapeInteractions are based on scientific study by Dr. Robert Gegear, professor of biology at UMASS Dartmouth, of the plants and pollinating animals native to Massachusetts and New England. The Toolkits represent a variety of landscape typologies and ecological habitats that are found in our geographic area and specifically in Lincoln. They are designed to increase biodiversity and climate resiliency.
Commercial planting kits and seed packets often include cultivars, as well as plant species that are non-native to New England. Different bees pollinate different plants based on behaviors and traits that have co-evolved over millions of years. A species-rich ecosystem contains a multitude of specialized relationships between certain species of plants and pollinators. It is essential that we provide the right native plants for our specific species of bees (e,g, bumblebees, mining bees, sweat bees, etc.), butterflies and moths, and other pollinating animals. As one declines, so does the other; and as one is encouraged, the other is revitalized.
Additionally, it is critically important to source seeds, plugs, and plants that are free of neonicotinoids. Most plants and seed purchased from nurseries contain these chemicals. “Neonics,” as they are commonly referred to, are a family of insecticides used in agriculture and gardening products that includes acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Neonics act on certain kinds of receptors in the nerve synapse and are more toxic to invertebrates, like insects.
Availability of the Toolkits
The first Toolkit will be a site-specific design of a gardenscape at the Birches School. The kit will be completed and published in May 2020, and readily adaptable for anyone looking to establish a garden or to modify an existing space.
The three Case Study site Toolkits will be published in November 2020 and released with the full Lincoln Pollinator Action Plan report. These kits will also be readily adaptable, and especially conducive to establishing functional, native pollinator habitat on larger areas of land, e.g. establishing meadows.
Overall Best Practices
Some basic and important recommendations to follow when establishing pollinator habitat include:
- Dr. Gegear’s Checklist for Functionally Diverse Habitats (PDF)
- Dr. Gegear’s Working List of Plants for a Functionally Diverse Habitat (PDF)
- Use neonicotinoid and pesticide-free soil, seed, plugs, and plants.
- Avoid cultivars.
- Source seed and plants that are native to Massachusetts and New England.
- Select plants that provide nectar, pollen, and nesting sites for a wide range of native pollinators, from spring through fall.