By Lucinda Greene, Arapahoe County Assistant Horticulturist & Colorado Master Gardener Program Coordinator
The Lima Plaza Pollinator Garden was conceived in 2018 as a way to educate the community about the important role of pollinators in our ecosystem. The garden provides information about the use of native, low-water plants in the landscape and the beneficial relationship between these plants and pollinators.
Did you know that 75% of over 240,000 plant species worldwide depend on pollinators for reproduction? This includes approximately one-third of the world’s food crops. Over 900 species of bees exist in Colorado. Non-bee pollinators include many species of birds, wasps, flies, butterflies, beetles, moths and bats. However, these pollinators are facing many significant challenges including the loss of habitat, especially in urban areas. Habitat needs include food, water and shelter. Native plants attract a wide variety of butterflies and beneficial insects. These plants are naturally adapted to Colorado’s climate, soil, the environment and have coevolved with the pollinators who depend on them as a food source. Many of these native plants are xeric, which means they use very little water once established. On average, native plants use ½” of water per week or less. In contrast, a Kentucky bluegrass lawn may use up to two inches of water per week in the height of the summer.
To create the Pollinator garden, over 2,300 square feet of turf was removed outside the front entrance to the CSU Extension office at Lima Plaza. Existing pop-up sprinklers were removed, and drip irrigation was installed to promote water efficiency. Two to three inches of mulch was installed to retain soil moisture. Over 50 species of shrubs and perennials were planted in the garden. Interpretative signage about plant characteristics, care and maintenance, and the pollinators attracted to each plant will be added in 2020. Many plants were donated by local nurseries and garden centers. Some of our favorite shrubs in the garden include Autumn Amber Sumac, Golden Currant and New Mexico Privet. Check out the ‘Blonde Ambition’ Blue Grama and the Little Bluestem ornamental grasses. The Sunset Hyssop, the Firecracker Penstemon and the Chocolate Flower are great perennials to add to any home landscape.
Join us later this season for classes on how to create your own pollinator/native plant garden. We’ll show you how to design your garden to attract specific pollinators and how to select plants that will perform best in your site. Then, learn the nuts and bolts of how to build your garden. We’ll also share maintenance and care instructions for your garden.
We are grateful to the Colorado Garden Foundation who provided a grant for plant material, signage and educational materials. We want to thank the following volunteers who served on the planning committee: Brenda Francis, Ilona Francis, David Garner, Gloria Huegel, Muriel Parker, Valerie Seale. The following volunteers provided help in planting: Barb Bolen, Sandy Brock, Denis Derylo, Ilona Francis, David Garner, Ron Hogan, Matt Huebschmann, Martha Kirk, Megan Knight, Colleen Lindstone, Ken Paul, Brenda Perea, Ron Phillips, Toni Smythe, Zandy Wennerstrom, Barbara Westerdale.
Additional contributions will keep the garden self-sustaining. Contributions for the project may be made payable to the Arapahoe County Foundation. Contact Lucinda Greene at 303-730-1920 for information on how to contribute. All donations are tax-deductible.