Last year, Mountain Lake PBS planted our very own Pollination Station on the lawn of 1 Sesame Street—our home base in Plattsburgh, NY.
This summer, we eagerly got our hands dirty tending to our pollinator-friendly garden by weeding, watering, and adding new native plant species for butterflies, birds, and bees to enjoy – as well as some human visitors to the Mountain Lake PBS station.
On July 30th we hosted a PBS KIDS Day Celebration full of hands-on activities, crafts, and snacks out on the lawn next to the Pollination Station. Families from across the North Country and Montréal enjoyed a Nature Cat themed activity, with help from our friends at AdkAction, where we learned how butterflies sip nectar from flowers using their proboscis.
As August marched on into September, we saw some big changes in our little garden. From heat waves to thunderstorms, unwanted aphids, and plants so tall they couldn’t be contained by our three honeycomb-shaped garden beds, the Pollination Station became livelier than ever.
Stalks of bright purple flowers shot up from the late blooming Great Blue Lobelia, Spotted Bee Balm and Cardinal Flowers added pops of pink and bright red, while Nodding Onions flowered and dropped their seeds.
We added wooden stakes and twine to help reign in the massive, unruly Swamp Milkweed and transplanted a tiny Nodding Onion bulb that had become unearthed in some heavy weeding. Happily, it has taken root again nearby and is filling a bald patch where other plants failed to thrive this year. The bushy Clustered Mountain Mint continued to creep across each garden bed, giving off a sweet, minty smell when you ran your hands through it.
Along with the colors and scents of the late summer came an unexpected aphid assault! Fortunately, with liberal amounts of soapy water, and help from our friend Ethan, Aphid Buster extraordinaire, we were able to get rid of these tiny pests and keep our pollinator plants healthy.
Now, as the temperature drops and the dog days of summer have come to a close, we’re excited to see what else our garden has in store. Looking towards colder weather ahead, the Pollination Station will go from providing food for our high-flying and creepy-crawling guests to shelter during the long winter months. Like last year, we plan to passively overwinter the garden, providing ground cover to animals and insects, and giving them the best chance at survival.
This means that once the first frost occurs, we can stop watering and let the garden become a winter habitat. No need to clear out dead brush or lay on manure. We’ll allow plants to decay naturally, leaving them mostly uncut. Fast forward to the springtime, we will simply wait a little past the last frost before clearing out any dead branches and leaves so that overwintering pollinators nesting there have a chance to wake up naturally.
But until then, soak up the last bits of summer sun as it fades into leaf peeping season in the Adirondacks. We’ll be thinking of all the fun we had at the Pollination Station this year and hope you enjoyed our monthly updates too!
For a full season of Pollination Station updates, visit our Learn & Play blog and follow us on social media. And keep scrolling to learn more about what pollinator gardens are, how you can start your very own, and activities to encourage a passion for gardening and environmental stewardship in your family.
A pollinator garden features flowers that provide nectar or pollen to a variety of pollinating insects, like bees, butterflies and moths. Native flowering plants – ones that come from the geographic area a garden is in – are best, and pesticides and other chemicals should be avoided when caring for them. In the Adirondacks this could include bee balm, milkweed, white turtlehead, mountain mint, and phlox. These gardens are beautiful and can help attract birds and other wildlife too!
Interested in starting your own pollinator garden but don’t know how? Sign up below to receive a free packet of wildflower seeds from the Adirondack Pollinator Project, courtesy of AdkAction!
The Adirondack Pollinator Project helps promote the health of pollinators in our ecosystem, provides resources to become a pollinator advocate, and helps communities plant more local wildflowers to help supply pollinators with the food sources they need to survive and thrive. AdkAction partners with The Wild Center and Paul Smiths College to support ongoing activities of the Adirondack Pollinator Project.
As part of the project’s Pollinator Garden Assistance Program, AdkAction uses their Mobile Pollinator Garden Trailer to plant community-scale pollinator gardens around the Adirondacks—including the one at Mountain Lake PBS! Schools, libraries, hospitals, municipal parks, and other community sites are eligible to apply to receive a garden.
Activities, Books & More
Catch Ya Later, Pollinator!
Grades PreK-3 Together with your child, play a game to model and observe how animals transfer pollen as they move from one plant to another. Your child will find out that animals and plants depend on other living things to meet some of their needs.
Grades K-2 Join Chris and Martin as they explore the process of pollination and learn the important partnership between plants and animals. Watch these video clips to see how the Kratt brothers uncover the amazing delivery system of plants and their animal partners.
Grades 6-8 Explore the role of pollinators in the ecosystems they are a part of. In this interactive lesson, develop a written response to one of three questions about the importance of honeybees. Gather evidence from reading assignments and video segments about Coal Country BeeWorks’ efforts to reclaim surface mining sites.
Urban Habitat: Biodiversity in Our Cities: Video | Nature Works Everywhere
Grades 3-12 In this video, designed to accompany the Habitats and Pollinators Garden Activity Guide, students learn that a garden is a mini-urban ecosystem that can support the health of the entire urban environment.