Happy participants in the Friends of Patuxent-led pollinator garden planting program at Watershed are ready to take their new container pollinator gardens home.
By Rich Dolesh, Friends of Patuxent Board of Directors Chair
Photos by Felicia Evans
Many of the residents of Watershed, a new planned townhome community being built in Anne Arundel County on the northern boundary of Patuxent Research Refuge have expressed keen interest in activities and programs taking place at the nearby North Tract and at the refuge in general. Friends of Patuxent has had a continuing interest in engaging communities around the refuge to learn about the refuge, so it was a natural for us to seek ways we could partner with the residents of Watershed. Planting mini-pollinator gardens in landscape containers proved to be an excellent way to connect with them.
In the spring of 2021, the Friends of Patuxent conducted a highly successful cooperative program with The Links, a national professional society of African American women, planting mini pollinator gardens in large tubs and containers at the National Wildlife Visitor Center to serve as a demonstration garden to show how homeowners and renters can plant such containerized pollinator gardens for their own patios and decks and driveways. Based on this success, the Friends saw a great opportunity to enlist the residents of Watershed in pollinator conservation by planting their own large planters with native perennial wildflowers to attract pollinators to their own patios and decks.
Elm Street Communities, the developers of Watershed, in cooperation with the Homeowners Association of Watershed, provided containers, planting soil, and native pollinator-friendly plants for the well-attended planting party on June 4, 2022 at Watershed’s community center. Friends board members and volunteers Rich Dolesh and Liz Humes conducted a brief program about the importance of native pollinators in our landscape and the functions they provide in our local ecosystems. They emphasized that everyone can support pollinator conservation and can plant their own pollinator gardens no matter how small they are.
After a brief summary of the types of pollinator-friendly perennial wildflowers provided for planting, including plants planted by volunteers at the Bee Lab on Central Tract, attendees of all ages, from toddlers to senior citizens, selected a variety of plants they wanted to plant in their mini-gardens and set to filling their seven-gallon containers with a base of stone for drainage and planting medium specially designed for containers.
There was a palpable energy and sharing of knowledge and skills by the participants. As the container gardens came together, there was also a shared sense of pride among the attendees as they compared their gardens to those of others. The Friends of Patuxent thanks Elm Street Communities for their generous donations of containers, soil, and perennial wildflowers. The program was a huge success and proved to be a great way for the Friends of Patuxent to engage a nearby community whose residents know very little about the Refuge. These residents of Watershed who participated are now plugged in to learning more about the resources of the Refuge and the research that takes place there, resources that they can now enjoy with their families and friends. Best of all, they now have a personal stake in pollinator conservation and by observing pollinators visiting their own pollinator gardens, will appreciate them even more on a daily basis.
Want to learn more about pollinators and how to plant your own pollinator container garden? Come to the Friends of Patuxent Annual Pollinator Festival that returns to North Tract at Patuxent Research Refuge on September 24, 2022.