The botanical garden thrills the community of Athens

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Commitment to promote pollinating plants leads to Bee Campus designation

The buzz around UGA this spring comes from East Campus Road and Sanford Drive.

This is where bees, butterflies and other insects congregate around new pollinator plant beds installed to raise awareness of the importance of native plants, as well as to draw attention to the recent designation of the University Bee Campus. USA.

“Of course, we want a beautiful landscape with a lot of flowers. We can have that and also support wildlife in a big way, ”said Lauren Muller, conservation outreach coordinator for the Georgia State Botanical Garden. “We want to teach people that even a small garden can make a difference, as we connect patches of habitat in urban and suburban areas through which insects and birds can roam and find shelter and food. “

At the Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies, Lauren Muller helps the field team. (Photo by Shannah Montgomery)

Muller, in conjunction with UGA’s Facilities Management division, has installed garden beds with native pollinator plants, including Georgia Pollinator Plants of the Year Garden Plants, on land located at East Campus Road and Carlton Street, and on Sanford Drive next to the Tate Center.

“We hope people start to think more about how their landscapes can and should work,” says Muller.

In March, UGA was officially recognized as a Bee Campus by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. The designation signifies that the UGA has demonstrated its commitment to improving and promoting pollinators on campus.

The process to become a Bee Campus USA was initiated with the establishment of the UGA Campus Pollinator Committee formed in 2019 with representatives from the State Botanical Garden, a UGA public service and outreach unit, as well as experts in entomology and horticulture from UGA, university landscapers and ground crew.

Small plant box

A fluffy goldenrod ready to be planted. (Photo by Shannah Montgomery)

Coordinated by Tyra Byers, Director of the Interdisciplinary Sustainability Certificate, the goal was to bring together a cross-section of academic experts to increase opportunities for research, experiential learning and sustainability efforts at the UGA.

“We see the campus as a living laboratory, so we would like there to be public service and outreach opportunities, where we use the grounds to teach, educate and engage people with these resources,” said Byers. “We have a number of classes that use the grounds for experiential learning opportunities. We want to know how we can improve, highlight and pilot things here to see if they can be extended and shared elsewhere. “

Muller and Steve Mitchell, a landscape architect from UGA, came up with the plan to bring Georgia’s Pollinator Plants of the Year (GPPY) from the botanical garden to campus. The 2021 plants, which are selected for their pollinator value as well as beauty and ease of maintenance, include false rosemary, bell pepper, fluffy goldenrod and butterfly weed.

GPPY was launched last year at the State Botanical Garden, in partnership with UGA Extension, Georgia Green Industry Association, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, to encourage growers to produce more pollinating plants native to Georgia and encourage consumers to use them. incorporate into their gardens. Four GPPYs are selected each year, one for each category: Spring Bloomer, Summer Bloomer, Fall Bloomer and a Georgia Native.

“We have hundreds of acres of scenery and seeing as there was this effort to have pollinating plants on campus, it seemed like a good idea and it kind of worked organically,” said Mitchell. “There is a kind of movement to be more aware of our pollinators and to provide habitat [for them]. We are big fans of the botanical garden and the Mimsie [Lanier] Center [for Native Plant Studies], and anything we can do to help strengthen our partnership, we all agree.

You can find out more about the Campus Pollinator Project at https://sustainability.uga.edu/community-engagement/pollinators, where you can also view an interactive map of pollinator locations on campus.


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