Second-year students Abigail Johnson and Xiaoxiao Tai were completing their Environmental Studies Certificate and just a few weeks away from graduation when they decided they wanted to make one last contribution to the College campus before leaving for university.
With the help of biology professor Michele Saumier and several of their classmates in the Environmental Studies Certificate initiative, Abigail and Xiaoxiao set off to redesign the garden in the East Inner Courtyard, an area of the College referred to as the “Green Classroom.”
Their vision for the redesign was to create a sustainable garden habitat for butterflies, bees and other pollinators that also met the Montreal Botanical Garden’s certification standards for a biodiversity garden.
Their first order of business was to identify native flowers and plants that were most likely to attract butterflies and other pollinators and thrive in the garden’s environment.
Factors such as soil characteristics, sun exposure, water accumulation and even colour helped determine the type of the different flowers and plants that were selected and their emplacement in the garden.
These included nectar-producing plants like sage, lupines and coreopsis for feeding the butterflies, as well as host plants such as milkweed that offer space to lay eggs and provide caterpillars with food.
Once the garden’s layout and design had been finalized, it was time for everyone to get their hands dirty.
Abigail, Xiaoxiao and Professor Saumier were joined by fellow students and faculty in early June for a day of spreading topsoil, digging and planting.
A little more than a month later, the garden is thriving as a habitat for pollinators.
Conceived with an emphasis on sustainability, it will serve as a valuable campus resource for the Environmental Studies Certificate and afford incoming students the ability to expand and build upon its initial foundations and contribute to the “Green Classroom” for years to come.
A special thank you to Abigail Johnson, Xiaoxiao Tai, Michele Saumier, and all the students and faculty who worked on this inspired and inspiring project.