Pollinator Help

There is a new pollinator garden in town, and it is starting to bloom!

Four Headwaters Master Naturalists are members of the small team at Trinity Presbyterian Church who installed the garden, located on the church campus at 725 South High Street, Harrisonburg. The new pollinator garden is located near the church playground. It is also near compost bins assisted by HMNs Adrie Voors, Cohort II, and Art Fovargue, Cohort VII. In the same way that all neighborhood children are welcome at the community playground, all pollinators are welcome in the garden!

Master Naturalists Frances Sale, Andy Sale, Malcolm Cameron, and Stephanie Gardner are among the team who began planning the garden in early 2021. Virginia Master Gardener Kathy Gillette, Elly Swecker, Mark Facknitz, and Marcia “Marty” Brown are also dedicated team members.

We met via Zoom for several weeks to plan the garden, which was made possible by funds from an environmental bequest. The Natural Garden, Inc. of Harrisonburg and Elly Swecker also donated some plants.

During planning, the team focused on how to create a manageable garden that would provide nectar and shelter for native pollinators at least three seasons of the year. We decided to upcycle an older framed garden bed behind the church playground. Andy Sale and Malcolm Cameron did the carpentry work, making a beautiful new addition to the previously unused bed. We put down landscaping canvas, cardboard, compost, river bottom soil, and mulch. In early May, we planted!

Among the native plants in the Trinity pollinator garden are Calico Aster, Sweet Goldenrod, Whorled Milkweed, Wild Quinine, Nodding Onion, Blue False Indigo, and Pale Beardtongue. The beardtongue was the first to bloom. All plantings established well, except for the asters, which fell victim to hungry rabbits and will be replaced.

I have been doing a monthly One Minute for Earth video for Earth Day Every Day of Harrisonburg, VA. The videos are shared on social media, and we will later make a compilation of them to document the progression of the garden. These outreach videos may also inspire others to start planting and creating habitats for wildlife.

The Trinity congregation has proved very interested in their new pollinator garden. It was recently incorporated as a station on a campus wide meditative walk. Our garden team has been busy educating the congregation on the benefits of a pollinator habitat and how members can help local pollinators within their own backyards.

We hope that the new garden will become one of a network of faith-based pollinator gardens, providing much needed habitat and food for our declining native pollinators. The garden also adds beauty to the neighborhood. It will give the community an opportunity to watch nature in a suburban environment. We are ready to see our new bee, butterfly, moth, wasp, ant, and bird neighbors move in!

– Stephanie Gardner, HMN, June 2021

Photos by Stephanie. The purple flower in bloom is wild bergamot/ bee balm, and the yellow flower is tickseed coreopsis. Those two plants were a special donation to the garden and were the only two plants used that were not purchased or donated by The Natural Garden. The photo on the right, below, is of whorled milkweed. Click on any of the photos below to enlarge it and start a “slide show.”