In celebration of Earth Month, the Ardsley Conservation and Environment Advisory Committee (CEAC) and the Village of Ardsley held a series of events in April that will culminate with the Ardsley Pollinator Pathway Garden Tour this Saturday, May 15.
From 1-4 p.m., the public will be able to visit the gardens of six village residents whose plantings enable pollinators such as bees and butterflies to support the proliferation of flora and fauna and, by extension, humans.
The Ardsley Pollinator Pathway is part of Ardsley CAN by 2030!, an initiative started in 2020 to reduce the village’s carbon footprint by 50 percent in 10 years.
According to the garden tour’s organizer, Carol Sommerfield, a member of CEAC and chair of Ardsley Pollinator Pathway, participants can choose to walk or drive to the six locations, including her home at 23 Orlando Ave.
“The owners will be there to talk about their gardens, tell their stories, and answer questions,” she said. “People can do one garden, or they can do all six. Come and go as you please.”
In conjunction with the tour, the Ardsley Garden Club will host a plant sale at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, on Revolutionary Road, from 10 a.m. to noon.
In February, Ardsley Mayor Nancy Kaboolian enrolled the village in the national Pollinator Pathways initiative, the purpose of which is “to establish pollinator-friendly habitats and food sources for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinating insects and wildlife,” according to its website (www.pollinator-pathway.org).
Pollinator gardens act as way stations for the birds and insects that transfer pollen from plant to plant as they feed.
“The movement,” Sommerfield said, “is about halting the alarming decline in pollinators globally. Bees and butterflies are going extinct. It’s a really big problem.”
The causes of that decline vary. One threat is pesticides. Another is habitat loss, including the use of lawns and non-native plants instead of native species that sustain pollinators.
“Butterflies and moths have specific native plants that they lay their eggs on,” Sommerfield said. Bees, “the best pollinators,” need flowers; some bees specialize in a few.
“Our current landscape aesthetic is one of a monoculture lawn and the obligatory round foundation bushes, which aren’t supporting anything,” Sommerfield continued. “People need to rethink their idea of what a perfect yard should look like.”
“Lawns, what I call ‘green deserts,’ are needed and useful, but in moderation,” Sommerfield added. “We should reduce their size. Let’s go wild. People can turn part of their lawn into a pollinator garden, or a native meadow.”
The tour includes gardens at various stages of maturity.
Linda Azif, at 39 Concord Road, has a terraced garden 30 years in the making. Her landscape boasts stone walls that she built (“I love working with rocks,” she said), as well as birdhouses and flowering plants such as mayapple and native azalea.
“If I buy anything now, I only buy natives,” Azif said. “By feeding butterflies you’re feeding birds [who consume the former’s larvae].”
At 59 Lincoln Avenue, Asha Bencosme has a newer garden, but her appreciation of nature in its wild state is equally strong. A resident of Ardsley for five years, she also recognizes the perils of established gardening practices.
“Pesticides get into our drinking water,” she said. “Even if you don’t care about birds and bees, [this is] for your own health.”
Bencosme exercises care when buying new plantings. “I look at the names on the internet, to make sure they’re native,” she said. Her thoughtful planning is paying off. “Shrubs are great. They support wildlife during the winter,” she stated. “Some stay evergreen, which is great for birds that don’t migrate.” Her family also enjoys the benefits of a pollen-based landscape. “My 6-year-old twins love all the little creatures,” she added.
At 22 Wilmoth Avenue, another novice gardener shares Bencosme’s enthusiasm. Darcy Briks, a mother of two who moved to the village four years ago, learned about Pollinator Pathways after joining the gardening club at HudCo, the co-working space in Dobbs Ferry. In addition to other natives, she planted foamflowers (tiarella cordifolia) that are attracting honeybees.
“I feel like I’m doing the bare minimum,” Briks said, “but I’m learning, and I feel that every little bit helps.”
That’s the sentiment Sommerfield hopes to spread as a result of the tour, which also includes 19 Captain Honeywell Road and 38 Victoria Road. For more information, including a map, visit www.ardsleycan.org.