Mills River Park Pollinator Garden
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Native insect pollinators are important pollinators of our natural ecosystems while managed honeybees are important for food production. A pollinator is any creature that moves pollen from the male part of flowers (stamen) to the female part of flowers (stigma). This pollination must occur for flowers to be fertilized. Fertilized flowers can then produce fruits, seeds and finally new plants.
The Importance of Pollinators
More than 3/4 of the world’s flowering plants, including food crops such as fruits and vegetables, depend on pollinating insects to fertilize flowers. Pollinators provide one out of every three bites of food we eat including fruits, vegetables and seeds. Native pollinators support a healthy ecosystem by fertilizing native plants.
Pollinators in Peril
Pollinators have been in decline. Multiple problems affect pollinator populations such as habitat loss, novel diseases, insecticide overuse, pollution and other factors. Healthy, abundant pollinator populations play a vital role in our food systems and in promoting biodiversity.
Mills River Pollinator Garden
Pollinator gardens are planted with flowering plants that benefit pollinating insects. These plants provide food and habitat for pollinators. To ensure health of pollinators, these areas are not treated with pesticides. It is desirable to use a majority native plants.
Steve Pettis, Henderson County Horticulture Agent designed a demonstration pollinator garden for the purposes of public education to be installed at Mills River Park in the Town of Mills River. Steve was assisted by 8 Master Gardeners and 2 Mills River Park staff to install soil, mulch and plants.
The garden features over 206 perennials, trees, shrubs, vines, and grasses from 72 species. 85% of the plants are native to North Carolina. A cedar split rail fence and pea gravel walkways with stone borders were installed by the park. Funds for the project were provided by The Town of Mills River. Plants were obtained from Raymond’s Garden Center. The Raymond’s Garden Center staff helped pick out appropriate pollinator friendly plants. Educational signage is being designed to teach the public about beneficial insects and pollinators.