News Release

Forest Service Breaks Ground on Pollinator Garden to Celebrate
"National Pollinator Week"

June 16, 2010

SRS People's Garden Coordinator Stephanie Worley Firley, Assistant Director for Research Susan Fox, and master gardener and volunteer Diane Almond break ground on the Station's new pollinator garden.
SRS People's Garden Coordinator Stephanie Worley Firley, Assistant Director for Research Susan Fox, and master gardener and volunteer Diane Almond break ground on the Station's new pollinator garden.

Asheville, NC — USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station Director Jim Reaves announced that the Station broke ground today on a new pollinator garden as part of the agency’s local celebration of “National Pollinator Week,” which occurs June 21-27. 

“This year, the Southern Research Station celebrates the fourth annual ‘National Pollinator Week’ by making a difference in our community through the creation of a natural area that attracts and supports pollinators,” said Reaves. “The new garden at our Weaver Boulevard facility will benefit butterflies, bees and other pollinators that play such an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and producing nutritious food.”

Established in 2007, “National Pollinator Week” increases public awareness of the decline of certain pollinator species and honors the important role that pollinators play in nature and in the production of various fruits and vegetables. The event has become an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year declaring the last week in June National Pollinator Week. Find more information about National Pollinator Week online at: http://www.pollinator.org/pollinator_week_2010.htm.

The Southern Research Station’s new pollinator garden features groupings of mostly native flowers and shrubs such as coreopsis, aster, clethra and echinacea. These plants provide sources of food, both nectar and pollen, for pollinators such as bee, butterfly, moth and hummingbird species. Organizers of the project selected plants to ensure that something is always in bloom from early spring through late fall. In addition to food for pollinators, the garden will also provide a water source and shelter such as logs and stumps. Besides water, a low spot in the garden will supply minerals and mud used by many bees and butterflies.

Organizers positioned the new pollinator garden adjacent to the entrance of the Southern Research Station headquarters to welcome visitors. Station officials say they plan to expand the garden over time.

Area residents and Station employees donated plants for the garden. Local master gardener and beekeeper Diane Almond is volunteering her time and overseeing development of the natural area.

While the Southern Research Station designed its garden with pollinators in mind, Station officials are calling the new garden “The People’s Garden.” Shortly after being appointed, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack encouraged employees at USDA offices across the country to create “People’s Gardens,” gardens that demonstrate the department's mission and provide an example of a sustainable landscape. Biological Science Information Specialist Stephanie Worley-Firley is the Station's People's Garden coordinator. The People's Garden Initiative website is http://www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden.

“Our goal is to show visitors that insects like bees and butterflies play an integral role in our lives and that people can enhance pollinator habitat by incorporating some very simple plants and features in their yards,” said Kier Klepzig, entomologist and SRS assistant director for Threats Research. “We’re encouraging area residents to create their own pollinator gardens that support local and migratory wildlife as well as please the eye.”

Klepzig encourages residents to plant native plants if possible. Native plants support helpful insects and wildlife, while nonnative, invasive plants can escape and replace native vegetation. This reduces biodiversity and places added stress on local plant and animal species.