Article by Louise Sheehan and Heather Gray
One community educational endeavor in which Delaware County Master Gardeners are engaged is the creation and maintenance of various display gardens.
One such garden is the Pollinator Garden. Located on the Penn State extension grounds at Smedley Park, it was founded in 2002 and is replete with mostly native plants that sustain butterfly, bee, and bird pollinators. The purpose of the garden is to inform the public about native plants that attract pollinators.
These pollinators are essential in moving pollen from one plant to another in an effort to produce more plants. Selecting native plants sustains the natural wildlife and beauty that is unique to our region.
Some plants in the garden are penstemon, bronze fennel, monarda, echinacea,and lobelia cardinalis. This variety of native plants has attracted a delightful diversity of butterflies, including monarchs, pearl crescents, silver spotted skippers, black swallowtails, to name a few.
Insects and animals are essential for pollination. The seeds produced through pollination are the basis of our ecosystems. These plants stabilize the soil and purify the air. Pollinators are also responsible for much of our nutrition; without them, we would not have an ample supply of fruits and vegetables.
Tending the garden begins in early spring with a general clean-up and deciding what additional plants should be purchased or replaced. Each week throughout the summer, the Pollinator Garden Committee members, maintain the garden by weeding, watering, replanting, pruning, etc.
In 2013 the garden received the Community Greening award from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society. It also earned a Penn State Pollinator Friendly Garden Certificate.
The public is invited to visit the garden to view the flowers and pollinators and to learn which plants to choose for their own gardens or to just sit and enjoy the beauty and richness of the garden. To aid gardeners in selecting plants, a brochure entitled How to Grow Your Own Pollinator Garden was designed and created by some of the committee members and is available at the garden. It provides the public with key information on the plants in the garden.