Black Hills Friends of Pollinators (BHFOP) is an informal group of citizens living in the Black Hills of South Dakota interested in creating a healthy environment for pollinators to thrive.
Do you have (or want to create) a Pollinator Friendly Habitat? We would LOVE to connect with you!
Our activities during the Summer of 2018 included the commissioning of an art piece that now serves as our logo to promote the creation and protection of Pollinator Friendly Habitats. The art-piece by Sparrow PaperCraft (the original is a Wycinanki Polish paper-cut) was printed into lawn signs that we sell at cost ($11 + tax) to those with Pollinator Friendly Habitats to display in their gardens. Through these signs, we are attempting to generate enthusiasm in the community about the creation and preservation of more pollinator friendly and safe habitats. We have also put together a simple set of guidelines of what constitutes a Pollinator Friendly Habitat (read below.)
To acquire your Pollinator Friendly Habitat Sign:
First, Take the Pledge
Pollinator protection pledge- I pledge to protect honey bees and other pollinators by following the four pollinator protection principles.
1. Protect bees and other pollinators from pesticides. Pesticides kill beneficial insects including pollinators and natural enemies that control common pests like aphids. Certain pesticides, including neonicotinoids, are highly toxic to honey bees in particular. And certain pesticides applied in combination with fungicides have proven lethal for bees.) Instead of using pesticides, explore organic ways to grow healthy plants, use biocontrols or allow nature to be in charge.
2. Provide a variety of food for bees and other pollinators. Consider clustered plantings with staggered native plants, which are always best, and inter-planting and hedgerows to provide additional forage on farms.
3. Provide a year-round, clean source of water for bees and other pollinators. This can be a river, pond, irrigation system, rainwater collection system or small-scale garden water features. Shallow water sources
can provide more than enough water for bees, without creating opportunities for mosquitoes to breed.
4. Provide shelter for bees and other pollinators. Leave some ground undisturbed and untilled and
some dead trees and plants on the property for wild bees to nest in.
**Information obtained from the Pesticide Action Network North America- www.panna.
Then, if your garden or space (big or small) qualifies as a Pollinator Friendly Habitat, purchase your sign at Lucy and The Green Wolf 740 Jennings Ave, Hot Springs, SD. 605-745-3415
BHFOP has started visiting local gardeners/ farmers who have been identified as role models in the creation and protection of Pollinator Friendly Habitats. We are putting together virtual tours with images and information from those visits and we will share them both on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BHFOP/ and here in the website for anyone to enjoy and find inspiration.
If you have established or preserved a Pollinator Friendly Habitat, you are eligible to showcase it here! Contact us to sign up! These virtual tours are intended to share your experiences (both failures and successes) to help others in creating their own Pollinator Friendly Habitats.
Let us know if you are interested. Our goal is to add 1-3 Black Hills Pollinator Friendly Habitat Virtual Tours per year to this site. There is also the opportunity to share your knowledge with others in other formats.
If you do not have a garden but you are a skilled photographer, videographer or story-teller and would like to collaborate in the preparation of these virtual tours, we would love to bring you on board!
Please contact us to share your passion, expertise and story & to learn more about our efforts and how you can become part of the Black Hills Friends of Pollinators!
In the first episode of our virtual tours we share with you our visit to Gail Saxonis' garden during a mid-July 2018 evening. Gail lives just a couple of blocks Northwest of Kidney Springs in Hot Springs, SD.
In this first episode of our virtual tours we share with you our visit to Gail Saxonis' garden during a mid-July 2018 evening. Gail lives just a couple of blocks west of Kidney Springs in Hot Springs, SD. She moved here from the West Coast and has tended her current garden for 17 yrs.
Gail has created an oasis for pollinators wherever she has lived and she doesn't remember a time in her life when she wasn't a gardener. She started caring for plants at the tender age of 5. Her mother was a gardener and so was her grandmother. It is in her Greek blood to grow lush and colorful spaces. Anyone who knows Gail's creativity and has visited her garden can attest the artist in her finds a canvas anywhere. She transforms found objects into happy, playful installations throughout her space. Art, flowers, fruits and vegetables share tight quarters in a very natural way. About 2/3 of Gail's city corner lot is planted and over half of the verge or curb strip has been transformed into an extension of the garden. She compromised a few years ago when she adopted a little dog and created a small patch of grass for Winter activities and exercise from what had been mainly her front flower garden.
Gail is interested in the aesthetics of gardening but she also loves growing her own food and adding to the well-being of the planet. She has always focused on leaving places better than she found them. Where there's a bare patch of dirt, she'll leave a flower garden. As soon as the garden season starts, Gail enjoys spending time with her plants and during the years when she taught, this would happen after work and on the weekends . She has the commitment that is needed to garden organically. Regular hand-weeding is crucial to prevent certain grasses and plants from taking over and drowning much wanted flowers. “There is a certain controlled chaos”, she says, where she allows plants to grow within reason, unless they get out of control. She enjoys hand watering daily and this provides observation time to determine how things are developing and if anything needs extra attention. We noticed that her hands are never idle when she walks through the garden. There's always something that needs to be pulled or dead-headed.
There have been many challenges to get her garden to its current state, especially at the beginning when there was so much sod and clay-digging to get done. They say that making a pollinator friendly garden more beautiful begins at the curb and that is where Gail's garden starts, at that challenging narrow space between sidewalk and street. It was hard labor under the hot weather of the gardening season, especially for a woman doing most of the work by herself without any special tools or equipment. It is in Gail's spirit to persevere and she has added to her garden annually for 17 years. On building her soil she has used compost and all sorts of manure depending on what was available through friends and neighbors over the years. This season she has used her young neighbor's pet rabbit manure. Her newest challenge consists of three little digging dogs when she pet-sits for her daughter but in the past she has contended with big wild turkeys perching on her front fence to get to her grapes, which led to the creation of a stronger, taller fence.
The place was buzzing with a variety of pollinators during our visit. Gail hasn't really followed a master plan to design a pollinator garden. She is more of an intuitive gardener as she watches the pollinators to learn what they like and tries to keep a balance to please butterflies, bumble bees, honey bees, wasps, hummingbirds, and moths. She keeps a colorful bird bath at the front of her house for all winged ones to find hydration and she freshens it daily. It is a true Pollinator Friendly Habitat and the harvest from her garden is abundant. There are all sorts of flowers, a large variety of herbs (butterflies love dill and fennel and bees enjoy sages and mints), strawberries, raspberries, grapes, beans, corn, squashes, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and much more. There are also succulents and cacti that she brings indoors before it gets cold.
Passersby take notice of her garden! One cannot miss it. The “Welcome to Yappy Hollow” sign draws a smile on people's faces. Soon folks will also see a BHFOP “Pollinator Friendly Habitat” sign peeking between her flowers. We hope you enjoy the images of this first virtual tour and find inspiration to work on your own Pollinator Friendly Garden.
Lucia Stanslaw for
Black Hills Friends of Pollinators
Rich and Jackie Gericke are happy to feed the neighborhood. It's a full time job--something they've done in the Southern Black Hills for more than 25 years.
The Gerickes own and operate Earth Goods, a natural food market serving the Hot Springs community. They also have a knack for keeping a chemical free garden.
This season, extra time and energy became somewhat of a luxury for the Gerickes. When forced with picking priorities, their cherished home garden had to take the back seat to more pressing matters.
"We just didn't have the time this year," explains Jackie Gericke as we stroll through her garden--overgrown and bursting with life. Even in late summer, Rich and Jackie's hard work and consideration are on full display--an ecosystem in balance, albeit recently untouched by the Gerickes' green thumb.
Jackie is somewhat apologetic about the state of things as she clears the path of overreaching stalks, flower pollen dusting our clothes as we scuff from gate to gate.
From her perspective, things are a mess.
From my perspective (non-gardener, casual observer, nature lover), I see a wonderfully charming and lush garden scape, a labor of love beaming with color, teaming with life, and thoroughly picked through by a variety of local wildlife, both large and small.
Wild berries feeding rabbits, turkey and a variety of other birds. Apples, rosehips, and plums providing nutrients to deer and other hungry creatures.
Pollinators are everywhere.
With camera in hand, I take a closer look. Honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, and moths - all playing an integral role in a nonstop performance, day after day.
This type of landscape doesn't happen in one season alone. Left to itself, nature comes to this kind accord over many seasons. Though, in someone's yard, much time and consideration, trial and error has to happen to arrive at this sort of wild livability. I presume it also involves much trust and love.
Trust that nature will take care and go to great lengths to arrive at this harmonious affair.
Love for the ongoing balance, the process that nature will maintain when we allow it to happen, if only guiding slightly from time to time.
When Rich and Jackie made the decision this season to "let things go," they knew their garden and its inhabitants would still prosper.
A surprise for the Gerickes came when discovering how much food their unkept garden had still provided to their local grazers. Feeding the neighborhood, as always.
I returned later in the day to capture a few more impressions under an evening light.
Jackie pointed out something I wouldn't have captured earlier while her garden was in full buzz in the hot morning sun.
A honey bee sleeping on a flower, tired from a full day of honest work--healthy, resting, and at ease in its natural element. An endearing statement of the kind of peace we all might enjoy when trust and love for the balance of nature is thoughtfully witnessed from our own back door. Eric Boyd