The Pollinator Garden
Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research recognizes pollinators are in decline, especially bees, the most important of all pollinators. Habitat loss, diseases, and residuals from the use of pesticides are having a severe impact on pollinator health. Master Gardeners across the state are working together to support pollinator conservation through hands-on learning and educational outreach for the public.
In July 2008, Master Gardener volunteers installed the very first Pollinator Garden to add to the Idea Gardens at the Penn State Research Farm. Planted to support and sustain pollinators, this garden highlights four important elements for a pollinator friendly garden:
- Protection of Pollinator Habitat.
Native plants are at the heart of a pollinator-friendly garden providing food and host plant benefits beyond what most non-native plants can offer in any landscape. Heirloom annuals such as zinnias and sunflowers and herbs may also be included to provide seasonal floral sources, cut flowers and food. Flowers in many colors, shapes and sizes entice a myriad of pollinators like bees, butterflies, beetles, moths, and more to perform their essential pollination services.
The Xerces Society notes that more than 4,000 native bees exist in the United States providing a free, often overlooked, service in our gardens, parks, private and public spaces. Our Pollinator Garden reflects the basic requirements needed to sustain pollinators as a model that anyone can duplicate. Manmade bee blocks, local stone and fallen logs offer naturalistic materials to add interest to the garden while supporting pollinators. Three vital plant families used in the garden include the Asters (Symphyotrichum), Mints (Lamiaceae) and, of course, Milkweeds (Asclepias) that offer nectar, pollen and host plant resources.
Diversity is the key to life! Whether it is the food we eat on a daily basis, the ability to sustain plant communities for a productive ecosystem, or the fibers we use to make our lives easier, pollinator services are vital to our existence.
Our Pollinator Committee is active in monthly pollinator monitoring counts to understand the interactions between pollinators and native plant communities. In addition to our garden, the committee is dedicated to teaching the public about pollinator conservation through presentations, workshops, and displays offered throughout the county.
We are in the midst of an exciting Pollinator Challenge to encourage individuals, private and public businesses to certify their landscapes as pollinator friendly.
Join us in our efforts to support pollinator conservation and certify your garden for pollinators.