GO Plant a Native Pollinator Garden

By Cynthia Sandeno on Jun 6, 2010

AmeriCorps Volunteers plants Sedum telephiodies in the pollinator garden.

Volunteers help plant over 300 native grasses, sedges, herbs, and shrubs.

Partners from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy prep the garden.

An army of partners and volunteers help transform a 5,500 square foot fescue field into a beautiful native pollinator garden.

The Monongahela National Forest teamed up with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area to host a National Get Outdoors Day Event that would encourage healthy, active outdoor fun and benefit the birds and the bees. On Saturday, June 12, an army of volunteers joined forces to transform a 5,500 square foot fescue field into a beautiful native pollinator garden. Partners from The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife prepared the site by treating and removing the sod. Volunteers were then able to plant over 300 plugs and pots of native grasses, sedges, herbs, and shrubs. They also assisted with laying out landscaping timbers, creating bee houses, and caging plants thought to be the most appealing to deer.

All plants used in the garden were grown in collaboration with Porterbrook Native Plants and Natural Resource Conservation Service's Alderson Plant Material Center. Seed was collected on the Monongahela National Forest and grown by these partners for use in the garden. Species of particular interest were native milkweeds and other nectar sources, as well as larval food sources such as wafer ash. The plant species selected and the design of the garden were created using the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign's Friendly Practices Guidelines.

This new pollinator garden is located at Stuart Recreation and will serve as an oasis for pollinators, outreach site for visitors, and a local native seed source for the Forest. The garden will also provide seeds of local milkweed plants that can be distributed to other interested groups within the community. "By restoring milkweeds in a natural landscape and encouraging their use throughout the community, we hope to contribute to increasing populations of Monarchs and other butterfly species," said Kent Karriker, Forest Ecologist.

Stuart Recreation Area was constructed in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the area is open yearly from mid-April through mid-October. In 2008, the recreation area received about 18,000 visitors making this an ideal location for public outreach and interpretation regarding the importance of pollinators and their ecological needs. Ecologists on the Monongahela are also exploring opportunities to work with local schools and scouting groups to make the garden a Monarch Waystation. Just a few steps remain to complete the garden including the production and installation of large interpretive panels to increase public awareness about native wildflowers and pollinator needs.

"We're excited to offer a day for families to get outdoors that was fun, educational, and helped the environment," said Chris Dudek AmeriCorps Volunteer who helped organize the event. The day concluded with a cookout and prizes provided by the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area. A special thanks to all of those who donated their time and energy to help make this project such a success. The final garden is a lovely place to visit and to learn!