Randalls Island Park Alliance

A Garden Alive

In General Plants, Randall's Island on September 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm

By Dianne Crary

A garden is a wonderful place to see and discover bugs, insects and birds.  On Randall’s Island there is an impressive variety to find.  It is always fun to hear the screams of horror/delight and astonishment as children in The Learning Garden encounter their first grub, worm or beetle.  It is an important gardening experience for them to find out that soil is a living medium and that the insects help to loosen up the soil by their tunneling which then allows air and water to reach the plants roots. Their droppings and dead bodies also provide nutrients for the plants.

During the springtime it was wonderful to listen to a mockingbird singing for hours at the Waterfront Garden against the backdrop of waves lapping the shoreline.  The diversity of a mockingbird’s song is very impressive. One duck laid her eggs among the Alchemilla  mollis (lady’s mantle) leaves and she was hard to see among them.  If you got close to her nest, she would fly up which was always startling.

Bees, bumblebees and other insects are constantly busy gathering nectar and pollen from the flowers, and a large diversity of pollinators is always found on Pycanthemum (bee balm). While the gardeners deadhead various blooms, the insects just move off to another flower intent on their job.

Butterflies are beautiful and the diversity of their colors and markings are amazing.  Whether it is the Monarch butterfly, which is attracted to the Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush), or another species they are all graceful in their movements.

Sometimes, though, one is surprised to come upon an insect due to its ability to camouflage itself.  The praying mantis is hard to detect among the green stems of bushes because it just looks like another stem.  The female is such a delicate insect, which belies its carnivorous behavior.

These various creatures, and many more, make a garden alive and vibrant.  A good garden provides areas of sun and shade, different types of foliage and flower heads, different heights of plantings, and a variety of blooms from early spring to late fall. This type of garden will attract beneficial insects that keep a garden healthy by maintaining the level of unwanted pests in check. Come and discover your favorite insect.

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