Friday, June 15, 2007

Oases of green for butterflies and birds

This article originally appeared in the New York Daily News. I reprint it here without permission and beg mercy from those who own the copyright. I am only spreading the good news.

Oases of green for butterflies and birds
Helping create garden party for birds, butterflies

by Denise Romano

Daily News, Tuesday, June 12th 2007, 8:15 AM

Jennifer Hopkins creates rest stops for things that fly.

In the densely populated strip of land between Prospect Park and Green-Wood Cemetery, Hopkins and fellow gardeners are creating oases of green for butterflies and birds.

The goal of the Greenway Project is to link two of Brooklyn's largest habitats - at least for airborne species.

Jennifer Hopkins feels right at home in her immaculate garden in Windsor Terrace.
"This is something I can do and that people can actually do to make a difference," Hopkins said, noting butterflies and birds are important pollinators.

In her garden, Hopkins has spotted monarchs, swallow tails, painted ladies and azure butterflies. She also has seen ovenbirds, kinglets and threshers - all rare in the city, she said.

"Having a backyard that is butterfly-friendly in such a densely populated borough is very important," said Hopkins, who has spread her message by word of mouth for the past six years.

Hopkins avoids the usual geraniums, petunias and impatiens favored in most gardens. She uses flowers richer in nectar.

"I plant purple coneflowers, asters, sunflowers and host plants - such as milkweed and parsley," she said recently as birds chirped in her garden.

"Milkweed is the only plant that monarchs can lay eggs on. Caterpillars eat the milkweed and parsley as well," she said. "But never put pesticides on your garden because it defeats the purpose and kills the butterflies."

For the birds, Hopkins plants berry bushes, has a cherry tree and keeps her birdbath full. One neighbor has followed in her footsteps and put up a humming bird feeder. Another has a bush where a family of cardinals is nesting. The nearby Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church is also on board and is set to plant a garden this summer, she said.

But Hopkins does not want to stop there.

"I want to work with contractors and maybe get them to put up butterfly and bird gardens in their greenspaces," she said. "I also want to work with local garden centers, so when people go into the store to start their own garden, all of the supplies are in one spot."

If more people followed Ms. Hopkins' lead and more media outlets published articles like this one, the world would be a better place!

To create your own butterfly and bird garden, e-mail Jennifer Hopkins

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