Because of their brightly colored blooms, yarrow plants are popular pollinator plants for the home garden. National Public Gardens Day is Friday.
—LSU AgCenter/Jean Pittman photo
Pollinator Garden highlight of Gardens Day May 11
BATON ROUGE — Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other animals do the important work of pollinating flowers and food crops.
Without these pollinators, humans and animals would have less food and far fewer flowers to admire.
“One out of every three bites of food we eat relies on insects — primarily bees — and other organisms for pollination,” said LSU AgCenter entomologist Kristen Healy. “Many of our important crops rely on insects to carry pollen from one flowering plant to another for many fruits, vegetables and legumes to grow.”
The recently completed Pollinator Garden at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden is an oasis of nectar- and pollen-rich plants for insects and other animals that spread pollen and fertilize flowers and crops. The garden is also a teaching tool designed to educate children and adults alike on the importance of pollinators.
The Pollinator Garden will be showcased from 9 a.m. to noon on May 11 during a free event as the Botanic Gardens celebrates National Public Gardens Day.
The 23,000-square-foot Pollinator Garden features milkweed, salvia, hibiscus and other plants that are attractive to pollinators along with an insect-themed play area for children that include a dragonfly seesaw, a honeycomb climbing station and a giant caterpillar crawl-through tube.
Planting a garden full of pollen- and nectar-producing plants can help honeybees and other pollinators thrive, Healy said.
“The lack of available nutrients in the form of pollen and nectar from flowering plants can cause tremendous stress to pollinators,” Healy said. “Pollinator gardens that provide continuous sources of flowering plants suitable to pollinators can help improve the amount of food sources.”
The Pollinator Garden helps educate visitors on which plants attract these beneficial organisms.
“They are learning to choose flowers not only based on their looks but based on what they can do for the environment,” said Allyson Huval, the Botanic Gardens public relations intern who is the event coordinator and has worked on the new garden for the past year.
During the National Public Gardens Day event, entomologists from LSU and beekeepers from the Capital Area Beekeepers Association will offer lessons on bees and other insects, and children can learn the basics of flower and insect interaction in a pollinator-themed yoga session.
City Gelato will be selling a specially made gelato crafted with honey harvested from hives at the Burden Museum & Gardens property. Potted plants donated by Clegg’s Nursery will be raffled, and the first 100 guests will also take home their own free pollinator plant, a zinnia.
“Educating children and their families about the importance of pollinators to plants, our environment and our livelihood is a key part of this garden,” said Jeff Kuehny, resident director of the Botanic Gardens.
Scheduled for the Friday before Mother’s Day each year, National Public Gardens Day was created in 2009 by the American Public Gardens Association to celebrate public gardens — both botanic gardens and arboreta — and highlight the role they play in educating communities on the importance of green spaces to society.
Additional fact sheets and information on growing a pollinator garden can also be found on the AgCenter website, www.lsuagcenter.com.
About the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden
Located at 4560 Essen Lane, just off Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge, the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Botanic Gardens is part of Burden Museum & Gardens, which includes the LSU Rural Life Museum and Windrush Gardens.
The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden is an expansive collection of specialty gardens, woodlands, wetlands and arboreta. Trees and Trails offers 3 miles of serene walking paths through the Burden Woods. The Rose Garden, Children’s Garden and All-America Selections Display Garden showcase the beauty of plants and flowers and provide educational experiences for gardeners of all ages. No admission is required to tour the gardens.