Updated: Feb 1
- 01/31/2023 - Donna Delany, Environmental Advisory Council Chair
On Saturday, January 21 at Opalanie Park, our EAC members gave out free New England aster seeds for winter sowing to 50 West Vincent residents, as part of their Pollinator Pitstop Program. This is the second year of the program, designed to blanket West Vincent in native flowers to help native pollinators. Last year, the group gave out butterfly milkweed seeds for winter sowing, shared 650 butterfly milkweed plants at Community Day, and planted milkweed in our Pitstop Garden at Andrew Evans Park.
Native flower seeds grow well using the winter sowing method. A plastic milk jug is modified to create the perfect growing environment outside in a sunny spot. The freezing and thawing help the seeds to sprout. New England aster is native to Pennsylvania with gorgeous purple flowers, and as a local PA ecotype, provide fall food for pollinators-- particularly, Monarch butterflies making their way south for the winter!
Dr. Doug Tallamy’s research at the University of Delaware has shown that a few genera of native plants, or keystone genera, form the backbone of local ecosystems and are the most productive and sustainable plants for wildlife. Asters are keystone plants! By planting just one New England aster (or any keystone plant), you help maintain the intricate wildlife food web and restore native biodiversity!
After distributing the seeds, the EAC scattered common milkweed seeds in the tree planting area of Opalanie Park. The seeds were donated by WVT Supervisor Sara Shick, who collected them from plants that volunteered in her home meadow. Milkweed is the only type of plant that Monarch butterfly caterpillars can eat. No milkweed – no caterpillars – no Monarch butterflies. Opalanie Park has milkweed growing wild in several places. Adding it to the tree tube area will give Monarchs another spot to lay their eggs.
It’s not too late to get your aster seeds if you would like to try winter sowing. Contact Donna Delany at email@example.com for seeds. Winter Sowing of New England Aster Seeds instruction sheet located on EAC Pollinator Pitstop Program web page.
Over 200 families are participating in the Pollinator Pitstop Program. Read about our program and join your friends to create colorful, biodiverse gardens on our dedicated Pollinator Pitstop Program web page.