Arboretum Paths: Designing gardens for pollinators

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2016

In last week’s column, I mentioned the national conference of the American Public Gardens Association in Miami Florida. Here, I accepted the 2016 Garden Excellence Award for the Crosby Arboretum. It was humbling to receive this national recognition in front of the group numbering over 700 representatives from so many national and international public gardens.
One of the blazing hot topics was that of pollinators.
The American Public Gardens Association is one of the founding members of the National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN), a collaboration of garden clubs nationwide.
The group has established a One Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC), a call to the nation to take action through developing gardens and landscapes to help support bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
On the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Map at you can find many gardens that are registered toward the challenge, and also enter your own garden on this map!
One enjoyable and relevant presentation focused on the growing trend of converting former “butterfly gardens” to “pollinator gardens”. The talk was given by lead horticulturist James Gagliardi with the Smithsonian Gardens, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Their Pollinator Garden includes three city blocks just off the National Mall, and 8 million visitors pass through the garden each year.
When James asked how many in his audience were converting their butterfly garden to a pollinator habitat, I quickly raised a hand. Over the past months, a major renovation project of our Children’s Garden area has been taking place. This area had been in dire need of renovation.
Hundreds of new butterfly and pollinator plants were installed by the hard-working team of Michelle Berdux, Laurie Langlois, and Sharon Guepet from the Pearl River County Partners in Leadership training program.
They chose the Arboretum’s butterfly garden as their community project.
The team didn’t just plant flowers. They spent many months organizing a team of volunteers who helped to remove the existing raised beds and soil, regraded the area, and built sturdy new bed frames. New topsoil was installed, and soil amendments such as peat, pine bark, and cow manure were tilled in, making the beds ready for the new plants.
The Arboretum’s new pollinator garden now has an opportunity to benefit from the Smithsonian Pollinator Garden renovation project. In his APGA presentation, James Gagliardi unveiled a collection of interpretive signs about pollinators he has designed for their garden.
The Crosby Arboretum has asked to be considered as one of the public gardens to receive a set of the Smithsonian Garden’s educational graphics to print and display in our garden.
The signs focus on topics such as stressors affecting pollinator populations, such as habitat loss and fragmentation, improper use of pesticides and herbicides, and diseases, predation, and parasites, and address how you can help by creating pollinator-friendly habitats.
Various types of pollinators and intriguing facts are highlighted, for example: 90% of flowering plants rely on about 200,000 species of animal pollinators for fertilization.
Although most pollinators are insects, plants are also pollinated by birds, bats, and small mammals. And, you can thank a pollinator for one out of every three bites of food you eat.
Take a summer wildflower walk on Saturday, June 25 at 10:00 a.m. and learn about the plants currently blooming at the Arboretum and how to use them in your home landscape.
A children’s workshop on insect exploration will be offered on Thursday, June 29, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon with Hancock County Extension Agent Christian Stephenson. Cost for non-members’ children is $2. Children are to be accompanied by parent or guardian (no charge for adults).
Our Aquatic Native Plant Sale will be Saturday, July 9, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The sale will feature an excellent selection of non-invasive native aquatic plants, many which are divisions from our exhibits. Site admission is free.
Teachers! Project Wild teachers’ workshops will be held Thursday, June 24 and Thursday, July 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., led by outreach educator Sabrina Cummings, Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Call the Arboretum office at601-799-2311 to register.
See for more information. The Arboretum is open Wednesday throughSunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road.

By Patricia R. Drackett, Director and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture
The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

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