Let’s keep green spaces buzzing with life

The Way I See It
By Daniela Ginta
May 29, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — If you happen by Peterson Creek these days you have likely experienced the persuasion to stay a bit longer than you might have planned. It comes in the shape of thick green bunches of grass, and various wildflowers. Birds abound, and if you’re lucky, you can spot (one of) the resident hawks giving the magpies and crows a run for their money with the daily threat of consuming their offspring. 

As any green space with loads of flowers growing everywhere you look, the park is home to a buzzing crowd. Bugs galore, including pesky mosquitoes, yes, but also bees, bumblebees and butterflies. An entomologist’s dream indeed. The air smells sweet and fresh, with a touch of bitterness imparted by cottonwood trees guarding the creek. 

It’s the smell of summer. 

It so happened that one day last week while I was musing over the above picture as I was walking home from the morning dog walk, I was abruptly stopped by a chemical smell coming from one side of the street. Someone’s lawn was getting a cosmetic treatment. The smell came with me for another thirty steps or so. Powerful stuff.

No bug buzzing nearby that smelly cloud, that much I know. I found visual and olfactive refuge on the other side of the street where a lawn hosts a large crowd of daisies, neighboring a beautiful scarlet red Japanese quince bush and a bright Hypericum shrub just behind. The air smelled summery again and there was buzzing in the air. 

A couple of more front yards were sporting various flowers rather than a green perfect lawn. That bee advocates call lawns green deserts is unfortunately fitting. 

There’s nothing to hang on to, visually, pollen-wise or otherwise. If lawns exists as such is because of the periodical chemical cosmetic treatment and the daily watering; yes, there’s something rather counterintuitive about their very existence. 

Back in January of this year, the city council approved a motion that has Kamloops designated as a bee city. If we are to make it one, some changes need to take place. Lawns in an arid climate are an anomaly. 

At the same time, Kamloops and its surroundings have a wide variety of native grasses that can keep a jolly bright green well into summer. More boulevard lawns where the grass is allowed to grow a bit longer with some native wildflowers peeking their heads to greet bees, butterflies and other bugs, would be a look that suited a designated bee city. 

They can do with less watering and the occasional rain, which means water can be used to water vegetable or flower gardens. Lawns, on the other hand, dutifully cut to a mere few inches, if that, require daily watering (and lots of it) and even then, the midsummer result is not green but brown. It seems that nature is saying ‘It simply cannot be done that way. It’s not sustainable.’ 

Creating wildflower-and-grass canvasses that would benefit bees (and ultimately us) seems but a logical consequence and obligation after becoming the first bee city in British Columbia. A whole yard of tall green grasses and wildflowers may sound extreme to many, but even a corner of the lawn that would be dedicated to becoming ‘bee garden’ can be a great start. 

Truly, if we are to see Kamloops become a real bee city, not just in words but in reality, we have to think in flowers rather than lawns.

And speaking of green spaces, here’s a post scriptum aimed to alert dog owners, nature lovers and campers of all types: On Saturday morning, our camping trip at a recreation site near Adams Lake was cut short due to our dog displaying signs of paralysis in her hind legs. We rushed to the vet’s office in town and were told that she had likely ingested either pot or alcohol (we had collected a few beer cans laying around the camp.)

A whole lot of stress (ours) and exhaustion (hers) later, we now have our dog back but with a sad feeling of outdoor fun desecration if you will. Pot and alcohol can be left behind anywhere unfortunately, including city parks, and while it is true that dogs can and do recover from it, the episode can leave a few marks. If you or someone you know like taking recreational drugs with you in the bush, please clean up responsibly, along with any other kinds of trash you produce while there. Put simply, it is the right thing to do.