St. Alban the Martyr’s Native Plant Library

 on October 12, 2023

St. Alban’s in Acton has always been guided by a sense of community in all its endeavours and that is what was accomplished when the Greening for God Committee decided to plant a rain garden full of pollinators and native plants to enhance all God’s creatures.

“All God’s Creatures Pollinator Garden” reads the sign that not only welcomes people strolling by but is a haven for birds, bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects. It is a beautiful and calming place to just sit and reflect. When one of the many volunteers, while toiling in the garden, happened to mention one day “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a native plant library?” that random thought became the inspiration for the committee to make it happen. A local wood artist who built our beautiful treelimbed bench was approached with the idea and he agreed to build us a small weather-secure library for the public to access as they were walking by. The library, a replica of St. Alban’s beautiful front entrance, has been a huge hit with the community as it has become a source of information for why native plants? What are beneficial insects? Why are bees so important? What is a rain garden?

Through the generosity of Credit Valley Conservation and Landscape Ontario, and just by simply making copies of interesting articles that Committee members find, we are able to keep the little library stocked with brochures, articles, small books, and anything to do with environmentally sensitive gardening. For instance, one brochure entitled Plant Me Instead teaches people what to plant instead of an invasive species, like goutweed. Then there is the article in the library about 10 beneficial insects. For many people they’ve never thought about insects being beneficial— but many are. Not every bug is bad—learn about the good guys.

Over three summer seasons of volunteer work we filled our native garden with beautiful Echinacea (coneflower), Rudbeckia (black-eyed susan), Liatris (gayfeather), Sparkleberry, Blue-flag Iris, Monarda (bee balm), Marsh Marigold, and many other native plants. We had help and assistance with a grant from Credit Valley Conservation and expertise from horticulturalist Sean James, for which we will always be grateful. Our worker bees (volunteers) ranged from 14-years-old (they learned all about ants) to three strong young men who did all the heavy digging, and numerous members of St. Alban’s, who love to garden. It truly was, and is, a labour of love for nature and for our community. Perhaps our native garden and library will act as an inspiration for many community members to think about the natural environment when planning their gardens and choosing their plants. We know it will make all the birds, bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects very happy.

After all, we are “All God’s Creatures”.

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