The following list outlines guidelines for creating a pollinator garden.
For simple instructions on planting a pollinator garden
Above left: Edge area with educational signage. Above right: Native edge plants showing black berries of the arrowwood viburnum, a excellent edge and understory bush.
In a natural setting the transition from the lower growing meadow plants to the forest is gradual. This area of gradual transition is called the forest edge. The forest edge is an important source of food and shelter for wildlife and hosts a great diversity of native plants. Unfortunately, edge areas are often lost during the urbanization process. We have restored an edge area to illustrate this important ecological feature.
Edge gardens provide a healthy transition from meadows to forests
Native Grass Hillside
Above left: Hillside shortly after planting. Above right: Hillside in second year of restoration
The slope of this hill was increased after Daniels Run
School was remolded. Turf grass was planted to control the erosion
of soil from the hillside. This reduced erosion to some extent but
not entirely and did nothing to help slow down the flow or reduce the
volume of water during a rain event. Turf grass is a monoculture
that provides very little or no wildlife habitat opportunities. In
order to reduce and filter stormwater and to increase biodiversity and
habitat, students and volunteers planted this hillside with a variety of
native grasses. This has eliminated soil erosion and provides food
and shelter far a wide variety of birds and pollinators.
Above left: The sponge garden was created at the bottom of this slope to capture and filter stormwater runoff Above right: Students, teachers, and volunteers are shown here mixing sand and leaf compost into the original clay soil to enhance the soil's capacity for retaining and filtering water
We coined the phrase sponge garden to describe a simple water retention area without many of the engineering features found in rain gardens. There are two sponge gardens in our living classroom both function to retain the water runoff from paved and grassy sloped areas. After excavating, we mixed the original clay soil with sand and leaf compost to improve water retention. Lastly, we planted native plants that would tolerate both dry and wet conditions. Sponge gardens provide multiple benefits including stormwater control, increased biodiversity, and expanded wildlife habitat. There is an engineered rain garden demonstrated in the living classroom. This facility captures rooftop runoff from a portion of the school building and includes such engineered features as an under-drain and engineered soil mix.
Above left: This image shows the beginning restoration of the forest understory. A brush pile is visible in the back of the picture created to provide shelter for wildlife. Above right: Paths have been developed throughout the living classroom. Often visitors from the surrounding neighborhoods enjoy strolling the paths after school hours.
The forest areas at Daniels Run School were overgrown by invasive plants, mostly English ivy. This invasive vine covered the forest floor and climbed up the canopy trees. Over time invasive vines will kill trees. Our first step towards restoring the forest was to remove the invasive plants and replace them with native plant communities. It is important when restoring forest areas to plant understory species along with canopy trees. Understory plants include smaller trees like dogwoods, bushes like viburnums, and the lower perennials like Christmas ferns.
Above left: Images shows the area where water overflows to fed the natural wetland. Above right: Student examining water from the wetland during a water testing activity.
A natural wetland exists adjacent to Daniels Run Stream. As surrounding areas were developed. larger and larger amounts of water flowed into the stream, causing the stream bed to deepen. The wetland became disconnected from the stream that once fed it and lost its ability to function properly.
The constructed wetland, adjacent to the natural wetland, has a waterproof liner to prevent water from penetrating into the underlying soil thus maximizing water levels. With some rain events, the water flows from the constructed into the natural wetland. Bringing this additional stormwater into the natural wetland will help restore it to a healthy state..
Monarch Butterfly on milkweed plant in Daniels Run pollinator garden, summer 2007
Please contact Jeanette Stewart if you wish to schedule a tour of the living classroom of Daniels Run School. In the spring of 2008, educational signage will be in place and an educational brochure will be available to assist visitors to the area.