Appreciating Our Pollinators

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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.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

HISTORY: • On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. • To date, 11 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2008. Another Park Bond Referendum will be held in November 2012. Today, the Park Authority has 420 parks on approximately 23,168 acres of land. We offer 371 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park System is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: o Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist. o Eight golf courses including Laurel Hill, our newest, upscale course and clubhouse located in Southern Fairfax County o Five nature and visitor centers. Also seven Off-Leash Dog Activity areas o Several lakes including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax o The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter o Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel o An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter o Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel o Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent o A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly o A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale o Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community o Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center o Provides 274 athletic fields, including 30 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 500 school athletic fields PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: • A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. %

4 thoughts on “Appreciating Our Pollinators

    1. Kim Scudera

      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!

      Reply
  1. Sienna

    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.)

    Reply
  2. Kim Scudera

    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!

    Reply

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