MCPHERSON — Carolyn Schrock started gardening in a little different way about three or four years ago by paying more attention to native plants that attract pollinators to her gardens. Her work led her to create a butterfly/pollinator garden at The Cedars retirement community for which there was a special ribbon-cutting on Aug. 27 in McPherson.
"I have concern about the lack of pollinators in our country, our state and our community. Eventually, if we don’t have pollinators, we won’t have crops and food to eat," Schrock said.
Schrock, a resident of The Cedars, started looking around the campus as she contemplated the success of her small pollinator plots in her own yard.
She spotted some larger places that, in her eye, could be good places to plant pollinator gardens. She wrote a proposal, which was approved by the Village Council.
"It started as a personal goal but I decided that we had access to a lot more land we can use to promote the butterflies," Schrock said.
Planting of new gardens started in the spring, with a focus on native perennial plants. Perennials are plants that live more than two years, helping reduce maintenance and the need for replanting.
For native plantings, the group turned to Dyck Arboretum of the Plains of Hesston, which each year hosts the largest native plant sale in Kansas. Each year, the sale catalog contains notes on plants that attract pollinators.
"Our goal is all pollinators — birds, bees, bats and butterflies," Schrock said.
The project received a designation from monarchwatch.org as a monarch way station, which allows The Cedars to post signage at the gardens designating them as a place for monarch butterflies.
Already this year, the gardens have already attracted butterflies and caterpillars, and the future could spell more traffic.
"I discovered that I-135 is a major flyway for monarch migration," Schrock said. "We have had some interesting events with the parsley and swallowtail butterflies. It is not just monarchs."
Many of the other residents living in duplexes and patio homes have asked for pollinator plants in their own areas and want more information on how to attract pollinators to their yards.
The Cedars came to the McPherson area in 1953 and today is the longest running retirement community in Kansas.