With summer upon us the Pollination Garden located between the PNC Achievement Center and the Gheens Foundation Lodge is finally coming into full bloom. While the Labrador Violets have come and gone with the heat, the bright, yellow petals of Lance-leaf Coreopsis have begun to explode with color intermingled with the beautiful purple hues from False Indigo and Purple Cone Flower.
Aside from creating a beautiful landscape to catch our eye, the Pollination Garden serves an important purpose in the ecological circle of life. Typically, pollinators feed on nectar or gather it. In exchange, they move the sticky pollen of these flowers from one to another. Once pollination occurs, the final stages of fertilization take place and seeds begin to develop. Since about 70% of food crop species worldwide require animal-mediated pollination, sustainable pollination gardens help give important pollinators like bees, moths, hummingbirds, and beetles a place to rest and get food.
When bees aren’t pollinating food crops, they need other sources of flower nectar and pollen available in the landscape to get their energy and to feed their young. Additionally, some species of butterflies like Monarchs have begun to steeply decline in numbers due to the overuse of pesticides. (Read more about monarch butterflies in this Courier-Journal article.) Pollinator Gardens help to grow the population of these important animals and ensure pollination continues to happen. Providing a nourishing and safe habitat for native pollinators can serve as an insurance policy for the success of insect population and also help us to see the beauty of native Kentucky wildflowers.
Within The Parkland’s Pollinator Garden over 25 different types of native wildflowers exist – and the collection continues to grow. With diversity being an important aspect of a successful garden the gardeners working at Beckley Creek Park see the importance of planting a wide variety of different types of wildflowers. The more diversity in plants we have, the more diversity in pollinating animals that will visit the park. Did you know that the color and design of the flower makes an important difference as to what animals will visit a specific plant? Not all pollinators can see or smell the same things. While butterflies and bees will be drawn to a lot of different colored flowers, hummingbirds prefer flowers that are in the red-pink spectrum. Certain nighttime moths are especially drawn to flowers that are white or pale-colored while beetles and flies prefer flowers white, green, or dark brown.
The next time you see an insect on a flower, notice what type of insect it is and make the connection to the flowers color – and the next time you are visiting Beckley Creek Park, make an extra effort to visit the Pollinator Garden while the flowers are in full bloom.Story and photo by Nathan Strange, Zone Gardener Nathan joined The Parklands staff in 2014 as a Gardener and currently oversees the areas around the Egg Lawn, the Pollination Garden at PNC Achievement Center/Gheens Foundation Lodge, and manages the collection and propagation of native plants within the park. While attending University of Kentucky for a degree in Natural Resource Conservation & Management, Nathan worked as a naturalist at Natural Bridge State Resort Park and as a field technician for Floracliff Nature Sanctuary – specializing in program development, native plant alternatives, and invasive species removal. In 2011, Nathan published “A Guide to the Knobstone Trail: Indiana’s Longest Footpath” with Indiana University Press – representing three years of independent research while highlighting his love for hiking and the outdoors.