Come next spring, Yowell Meadow Park will be abuzz.
A partnership between the Town of Culpeper, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Old Rag Master Naturalists planted a pollinator garden in Yowell Meadow Park Oct. 19.
The garden is an effort to not only beautify the park, but to provide native plants for pollinators to use as food and a habitat.
“First of all, it’s going to be beautiful, it will demonstrate the incredible beauty and diversity of our native plants,” said Nora Rice, Old Rag Master Naturalists and Culpeper Garden Club. “When a plant is a native, it means that it has evolved with the other life in the area. The pollinators are accustomed to using the plants as a source of nectar.”
Gardens such as the one at Yowell Meadow Park are an emphasis for Carol A. Heiser, education section manager and habitat education coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
“I think there’s a big interest in the public, to support pollinators,” Heiser said. “Pollinators are insects that move pollen from one plant to another. They are responsible for most of the food that we eat.”
According to Heiser, there are more than 485 species of native bees in Virginia, and seven of those bumblebee species are in decline. She stressed the importance of pollinators as 85 percent plants worldwide are pollinated by animals and insects and 25 percent of diet of birds and mammals worldwide is fruit or seed that comes from a plant that had to be pollinated.
More than 700 plants of 15 different species were planted at the Yowell Meadow Park, accounting for more than $3,000.
“That’s what biodiversity is about, restoring the landscape to bring back that diversity of plant and insect communities that must work together,” Heiser said.
The beauty of the partnership between the three entities is that the Old Rag Master Naturalists will help maintain the garden along with the town, but Heiser said the garden won’t need much trimming as it will also serve as a habitat for insect eggs during the winter months.
“These are intended to fill in, flower and the intent is keep them standing in the fall and the winter,” Heiser said. “The reason we leave the dead stuff standing over winter, is because the insects use the dead stems to lay their eggs over winter.”
Salem Bush, Culpeper Town Planner, said he reached out to Heiser after the Parks and Rec Commission initiated the process of a pollinator garden.
“It’s a big thing we want to do in the town, to get more grass roots efforts involved,” Bush said. “It’s just a way to get the citizens involved in these projects and have them help lead these projects too.”
He said the town intends to put in an interpretive sign explaining the native plants and need for the garden, along with benches so the public can enjoy the beauty.
Jack Price, with the Old Rag Master Naturalists, said the goal was to provide an educational opportunity to the public. He said the group has worked on a similar garden in Washington, Va.
“Most people aren’t familiar with native plants, so this is an opportunity to educate the public,” Price said. “Native birds and insects will feed and lay their eggs on native plants, which they will not do on invasive ones.”