A Native Pollinator Garden Hums with Life and Inspiration

06 Aug 2020

A community effort thrives at the Village Arboretum

By Lesley Berkshire Bradley

If you stand completely still looking over the field of intense colors and varied textures, you can see constant movement. Hundreds of bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, and hummingbirds whirl from flower to flower in the Native Pollinator Garden located in the Village Arboretum.

Nestled between the heavily shaded woodlands and gurgling brook, and just down the hill from the wide-open expanse of The Meadow, is a quarter acre containing over 6000 native flowers and grasses designed to welcome both pollinators and human visitors.

Creating a public garden to celebrate native pollinators was the brainchild of the Village Heritage Foundation, the non-profit which built the Village Arboretum.

“The Pollinator Garden provides a place where people can experience nature, learn about the importance of pollinators, and learn about the native plants that can be planted in their own backyards to create a pollinator habitat,” explains Beth Franke Stevens, President of the Village Heritage Foundation and former head of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

There are over 500 species of bees in North Carolina...many well-known, like Honeybees, Bumble bees, and Carpenter bees, and some, if you visit the garden, you can become more familiar with, like metallic green Sweat Bees, early spring Mining Bees, and even specialized Blueberry Bees. They are all so busy working that they will not even bother you.

Many of North Carolina’s 175 species of butterflies visit the Pollinator Garden including our state butterfly, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, as well as Monarch butterflies and tiny Fritillaries.

The native flowers were chosen for their long bloom time and fill the garden with color from Spring through Fall. The flowers offer nectar and act as host plants for the pollinators.

“Monarch butterflies that are making their 2500-mile migration to Mexico need to feed on nectar along the way and Fall bloomers are a great source of food for them,” explains Dr. Lynda Acker, local Monarch Butterfly expert, “The garden is a Certified Monarch Garden
and Waystation.”

Although only 10,000 square feet in size, there is much to explore. Photographers, amateur entomologists, artists, whether budding or professional, and especially junior scientists, can investigate the full lifecycle of these varied pollinators.

Begin a garden tour at the Pollinator Pavilion with educational signs describing the plants and the pollinators. Then move to the center by the enormous “perch rock” which holds mineral-rich water for butterflies.

Next, follow the crunchy gravel paths past bold-colored native flowers.

The flowers’ names are as captivating as their varied colors and textures…Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Prairie Blazingstar, Showy Goldenrod, Purple Coneflower, Beard Tongue, Pipevine, Black-eyed Susan, Hoary Vervain, Turtlehead, Boneset, Milkweed and Rattlesnake Master.

Moving from the garden center, the heights of the plants increase. Around the outermost paths, the Big Blue Stem grasses will grow up to 7 feet high, creating the feeling of being enveloped in a room of swaying cerulean blue grasses which will change to crimson in the fall.

The garden is chaotic, not groomed. Some plants stand up straight and tall, while others flop over from the weight of heavy blossoms. This unruliness doesn’t deter the bees and butterflies; they congregate in clusters and flit from plant to plant. Many even exhibit specific plant preferences that are evident of you stand still and take notice.

In the Fall, visitors can search for caterpillars. The Monarch caterpillars will be eating the Milkweed and the Butterfly Weed, then they will form a chrysalis, and finally the butterflies will emerge to begin their flight South.

Over 400 people celebrated during the 2019 Flutterby Festival, participating in educational activities and releasing 200 Monarch Butterflies.

This year’s Flutterby Festival will be modified for social distancing and the date will be announced as more Covid 19 restrictions are lifted.

“The more you learn about pollinators, the more fascinating it becomes!” Acker exclaims. The garden is open to the public daily.

The Village Heritage Foundation was established in 1993 to promote the preservation, enhancement and maintenance of the distinctive character of the historic Village of Pinehurst.

For more information please visit www.villageheritagefoundation.org

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