Friends of Patuxent
Supporting Research, Wildlife Conservation, and Education at the Patuxent Research Refuge
Pollinator Gardens at Patuxent
Native Pollinator Gardens
The Patuxent Research Refuge has large pollinator gardens of native plants at the South Tract Visitor Center and at the North Tract Visitor Contact Station. Other small pockets of pollinator plantings are near the Fishing Pier at the north end of Cash Lake and at the Wildlife Viewing Area near Merganser Pond at North Tract. Volunteers help design and maintain these gardens, which provide food and shelter to butterflies, native bees and other insects that pollinate native plants and thus support the local wildlife populations. The gardens are beautiful and bring joy to their many visitors, and are especially appreciated by children and photographers.
The gardens give visitors a chance to see pollinators in action in their natural habitat. They create an awareness of the beauty of native plants in home landscaping, and demonstrate the vital role they play in attracting beneficial insects as well as birds and other wildlife. The gardens are essentially an outdoor classroom, promoting good environmental stewardship by showing visitors what they can do in their own gardens.
Container Pollinator Gardens
Container pollinator gardens are a good way to support pollinators in small yards and decks and patios. In June 2020, Friends of Patuxent volunteers worked on a pollinator conservation project with members of the Prince George’s County chapter of The Links, Inc., one of the nation’s oldest volunteer service organizations of African-American women. With donations of plants, containers, and soil, volunteers created two container gardens on the back patio of the South Tract Visitor Center and at the Native Bee Monitoring and Inventory Lab on Central Tract.
To celebrate pollinators and native plants, the Friends of Patuxent hosts an annual Pollinator Festival at the Wildlife Viewing Area of North Tract in September. Initiated in 2015 as the Monarch Festival, the gathering has attracted over 500 visitors in some years. This event includes a monarch tagging station; several displays and information stations with staff and volunteers from the Refuge and from the Eastern Ecological Science Center; and a giveaway of plants donated by commercial nurseries. There are activities, hikes and games specially designed for children.