Articles of interest from the Fairfax County Park Authority
Appreciating Our Pollinators
Does anyone out there like food?
What’s your position on chocolate? How about coffee, blueberries, apples, almonds? If you are in favor of eating – and I believe that most of us are – then you are a natural fan of pollinators. Three-quarters of the plants on earth, one-third of human food, require animals such as bees, butterflies, flies and beetles for pollination, the process by which plants develop seeds and reproduce.
Large farms may bring in truckloads of honey bees to help to pollinate their crops, but on a small farm like Frying Pan Farm Park, native bees – which are better at pollinating plants than honey bees – and other insects are essential to the success of the crops. Native bees need our help. Disease, loss of important habitat like meadows, and widespread use of pesticides threaten their survival.
So, starting in July 2012 a team of people from Frying Pan Park, the Fairfax chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist program, and representatives of the Virginia Native Plant Society and Earth Sangha designed, planted and is now caring for a special garden around the park’s Dairy House. The garden includes plants important to bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects: goldenrods, beebalms, milkweeds, and many more.
I’ll be writing regularly about pollinators and the pollinator garden at Frying Pan Park. The next article about the pollinator garden will highlight milkweeds, a family of plants essential to the life cycle of one of our favorite butterflies, the monarch. Until then, I’ll be in the garden, so come visit!
Author Kim Scudera is a certified Virginia Master Naturalist and a volunteer at Frying Pan Farm Park.
Why don’t you certify it as a Monarch Waystation? It will help people learn that the garden is beneficial to Monarchs and other pollinators. http://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/
Thanks, Mona! we have talked about certification (Monarch Waystation, Audubon at Home, NWF) as a way to further the educational mission of the pollinator garden. We’ll also be adding interpretive signage so that visitors can learn more about the individual plants and the animals that depend on them. Stay tuned, and please come visit!
How wonderful! Is there more info about this? What plants were planted? I would like to replicate at home. (I live in a five-acre property and planting 90 percent natives.)
Hi, Sienna, thanks for your interest in these wonderful native plants! if you have a sunny site like that of our pollinator garden at Frying Pan Farm Park, and good soil, these plants would be great for your home landscape. Plants in the garden include Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed), Packera aurea (Golden ragwort), Vernonia noveboracensis (New York ironweed), Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower), Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm), Monarda fistulosa (beebalm), Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant), Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower), Geranium maculatum (wild geranium), Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-eyed susans), Baptisia australis (wild blue indigo), Aster umbellatus (flat-topped aster), Asarum canadense (wild ginger), Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine), and violets, and four kinds of shrubs: ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), elderberry (Sambucus nigra), strawberry bush (Euonymus americanus) and low-bush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium). Good luck with your plantings!