Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling was amazed by the number of bees in Louise Broderick and Jan May’s backyard.
“That’s a sign of a really healthy landscape,” the avid gardener said while touring the outdoor space Monday afternoon.
The sisters won the city’s second annual Naturescaping contest for using native species to create a diverse sanctuary that attracts an array of insects and birds.
“With the diversity in plant life you get the diversity in all the other critters and insects,” said Ken Lehman, parks ecological and planning specialist with the city.
“A more diverse habitat is a healthier environment.”
May and Broderick have spent the past four years transforming their double lot into a natural oasis that currently features 300 different perennials that can thrive in Alberta conditions — everything from daylilies to plum trees.
The varying heights of the plants create a lush green canopy that protects the soil from drying out. And the sun rotates around the yard perfectly, ensuring the plants are never in full sun or full shade.
There is no grass in the backyard, just wood mulch pathways that weave around all the raised flower beds.
“I like to come home (from work) and walk through the garden,” May said.
Broderick, who has studied horticulture and naturescaping, said she wanted to design a yard that attracts bees, wasps, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, squirrels and more to help these species survive in an urban setting.
The city hopes this annual program will encourage more residents to transform their lawns into a thriving natural space. Only five applications were sent in this year.
“Replace the lawn with something that either you can eat or you can enjoy so it becomes a natural scape as opposed to a clipped lawn,” Flewwelling urged.