Anyone passing by one of the five fire stations in Bloomington may notice colorful purple, orange and yellow flowers outside the stations. What they may not know is that the flowers are more than just a way to beautify the area — they serve as "way stations" for monarch butterflies and other pollinating insects.
The flower gardens were started last year by Ann Kamman, a longtime Bloomington resident and gardening enthusiast, after she attended a talk at the Unitarian Universalist Church about the importance of gardens for butterflies and other pollinating insects. She knew about an effort to establish vegetable gardens at the city's fire stations, and asked which firefighter was the "plant person." That's when Kamman began working with Sgt. Brandon Hudson.
Together they filled five big pots with milkweed and flowering plants at the downtown Fourth Street fire station. Then Hudson delivered one to each of the other fire stations.
"I was just trying to get milkweed started wherever I could," Kamman said.