Pollinator Pitstop Program
The Full Story
More flowers, less lawn, happy people, happy pollinators!
Would you like to add more flowers to your home? Would you like to learn more about gardening and nature? Would you like to help birds, butterflies, and pollinators? Join West Vincent’s new Pollinator Pitstop Program!
What’s a Pollinator Pitstop? Butterflies, hummingbirds, and other native pollinators don’t stay put – they move around. Monarchs and hummingbirds migrate large distances spring and fall, but they also move around during the summer. One garden full of flowers isn’t enough – they need flowers everywhere!
Pollinator Pitstops are small, easy-to-care-for gardens planted with native flowers chosen for their beauty and their ability to help our struggling species of native pollinators. Native pollinators are declining at an alarming rate. Eastern monarch butterfly populations have declined by more than 80% over the past two decades. While Monarchs are the face of the wildlife extinction crisis - where even once common species could now disappear – the fuzzy American bumblebee is also in trouble. It has disappeared completely from 8 states, including our New England states; in New York, bumblebee populations are down by over 90%.
But we can help! If enough people begin to plant native flowers while limiting pesticide use, we can reverse this negative trend.
How the Program Works
West Vincent residents who sign up for the Pitstop Program will receive the following information by email:
Garden design ideas
Offers for free or discounted native plants
Tips on how to help your garden to thrive and look pretty in all four seasons from our Garden Club, a volunteer group of experienced gardeners. The goal is to have a successful garden to enjoy with a minimum of effort!
Access to a support group of gardeners all gardening together! Experts will be on hand to answer your gardening questions.
Gardening Tips and Instructional Videos
Winter Sowing of New England Seeds Guide - instruction on how to sow New England Aster seeds in winter for your Pollinator Pitstop garden - Jan 2023
Winter Sowing of Milkweed Seeds Guide - instruction on how to sow milkweed seeds in winter for your summer butterfly bushes. - Jan 2022
Pollinator Pitstop Home Garden Design and Lasagna Garden Plan Descriptions - pamphlet containing plant picture, name and care information
Instructions for Growing Butterfly Milkweed Seedlings - step-by-step instructions for planting and caring for your seedlings.
Lasagna Method Step-by-Step Instructions - one-page instructions sheet on how to create pollinator pitstop using the lasagna method - Oct 2021
"Lasagna Garden" video - live instruction on how to create a "lasagna garden" to enjoy spring flowers. Make your spring planting a breeze and start in the fall!- Oct 2021
Pitstop Current and Prior Events
FREE New England Seed Event -held on Saturday, January 21, 2023 (rain date Jan 22) to receive FREE New England Aster seeds!
FREE Butterfly Milkweed Seed Event -held on Saturday, January 15, 2022 to receive FREE Butterfly Milkweed Seeds!
In the News
Article - "Lasagna Garden"Demonstration - Oct 2021 - success in first lasagna method demonstration held on Oct 23, 2021!
Let’s Grow Together
Sign up below to join the Pollinator Pitstop Program so we can start tending our Township together.
Questions about the Pollinator PitStop Program and other eco-responsible gardening needs? Contact EAC chair, Donna Delany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Space in Andrew Evans Pitstop - November 2022
The Lasagna Method was used to create more space for fall blooming flowers in the Pollinator Pitstop in Andrew Evans Park. The flowers planted this past spring did so well! They bloomed all summer.
To extend the bloom time and give butterflies and bees food for fall, extra planting space was needed.
The West Vincent EAC Garden Club gathered on Nov 2 for their second annual Lasagna Method Demonstration. The Lasagna Method is the easiest way to start a new garden with no tools and no work. Cardboard and leaves were spread across a two-foot strip along the back of the Pitstop. Over the winter, the cardboard and leaves will kill the grass and weeds underneath as they break down into rich humus to enrich the soil.
In spring, well-behaved goldenrod and aster species will be planted for more autumn color and nectar.
Our Growth and Blooms! - July 2022
Our West Vincent Pollinator Pitstop Demonstration Garden at Evans Park is doing well! The baby plants are growing and healthy. A few have attempted flowering! The 2’ leaf layer we placed last November has shrunk down to only a couple of inches thick, still nourishing the soil and acting as an attractive, weed-reducing mulch.
With native plants, patience is necessary – not something our culture is used to. A plant purchased at a Lowe’s will look great and bloom all summer – no waiting required. However, that plant was probably grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides that will harm soil and pollinators and the caterpillars our birds depend upon to feed their young.
Native perennials spend the first year building a good foundation. They concentrate on producing strong roots. The saying goes – the first year they sleep, they second year they creep, and the third year they leap! Savvy gardeners know how to plan for these three phases of growth while keeping a garden looking pretty. They may plant a couple of well-placed annuals such as marigolds to fill in the bare spaces while the natives get going. Then by year three, little weeding or maintenance is necessary in the native garden.
Partridge pea (pictured) is an example of a native annual that quickly fills in bare spaces with striking yellow blooms – no patience required! The West Vincent Elementary School students each planted a seed for a plant to take home at their Earth Day celebration this year, and the West Vincent Environmental Advisory Council gave them to children during their seed ball activity at Community Day. Partridge pea supports pollinators and is a caterpillar host plant.
The West Vincent Pollinator Pitstop Program was designed by the West Vincent Environmental Advisory Council to blanket our township in native flowers. The goal is to provide residents with free and low-cost native plants that benefit our pollinators and birds and beautify our world.
Along the way, we hope to learn together about biodiversity, how to have less lawn to mow, how to fix wet areas, ways to keep our leaves, and, especially, the physical and mental health benefits of being in and connecting with nature and our neighbors.
The Pollinator Pitstop Program began in the fall of 2021 with the preparation of our first demonstration Pitstop Garden in Andrew Evans Park, the park in which our township building sits.
In November 2021, we held a demonstration of the easy way to convert lawn to garden – the lasagna method. We collected Amazon boxes and bagged leaves and rocks, laid out the 12’ x 4’ garden, and placed a small temporary fence around it to hold in the leaves. We then put down the cardboard, placed rocks on top to hold it down, and put about 2’ of leaves on top. We left it to sit for the winter, with a Pollinator Pitstop Hatching sign in front.
In January 2022, we held a free butterfly milkweed seed giveaway on a very cold January Saturday. We gave out plastic milk jugs to anyone who didn’t have one, and we handed out written instructions, which were also posted on our webpage with an instructional video. There was a line of cars through the township parking lot, dozens of people cold-sowing native plants for the first time!
In March, the Girl Scouts planted 650 butterfly milkweed plants, which were raised inside under ideal (for milkweed) conditions so that they would bloom the first year. These plants were given away at our Community Day in mid-May, where we also held a partridge-pea seed ball activity for the kids. EAC members wore butterfly wings – we felt really goofy, but it ended up creating great energy and being a real conversation starter! We had enough plants for our township gardener to plant them throughout our park and our Community Garden space.
At the end of May, after the soil had warmed up, we finally planted the Pitstop Demonstration Garden. Several families had purchased the full complement of Pitstop Garden plants through the Ludwig's Corner Horse Show Assoc., so they followed along and planted a similar garden at home.
Our lasagna method had worked perfectly! The grass had died, the cardboard was completely gone, and there were just enough leaves left to serve as a pretty mulch.
The 4’ x 12’ design had been selected to be easy to reach into from the front to weed. The planting was quick and easy, as the soil under the “lasagna” was light and easy to dig in.
The final step of the garden preparation was to lay down flat stones, with landscape fabric underneath, so it would be easy for the Public Works Department to mow around it.
Many people showed up for the planting – some of them first time gardeners! So far, we have 179 households participating in this program. We are all gardening together and learning together. Some of our goals for next year are to add spring and fall nectar sources, trees, and shrubs, and to demonstrate plants with deep roots for stormwater maintenance.
We feel that our community has been enriched by this program.