Langlais Native Plants for Pollinators
In 2018, we partnered with the Maine Master Gardener Volunteer program to create a design for a native plant pollinator garden at the Langlais Sculpture Preserve. To enhance the welcoming feel of the entrance to the Preserve, and take advantage of the space as an educational opportunity, the garden was planned for the 75 sq. ft. island in the parking lot. The project took nearly two years to complete, but the results are amazing!
Much like “hell strips” in urban neighborhoods, creating a self-sustaining garden in these hot dry locations can be difficult. This garden demonstrates that these areas need not be just lawn, but can become a native plant oasis and turn an otherwise dead zone into a healthy and colorful host site for important pollinators and birds.
Over the fall, winter, and spring 2018-19 we covered the site with plastic to suppress weeds. In July 2019, we removed the plastic and planted a cover crop of buckwheat to provide summer food for pollinators, suppress weeds, and enhance the soil. We identified more than 14 species of pollinators – bees, bumblebees, hoverflies, hornets, yellow jackets, butterflies, lady beetles, and more! In late August, the buckwheat was cut before it could set seed and left to add its nutrients to the soil.
The project had three design goals: use native plants that feed pollinators and birds, use plants that can survive without supplemental water once established, and create a beautiful garden that would be in bloom from early spring to late fall. The planting design balances the season of bloom, plant height, and bloom color, plus adds some grasses for visual interest and seeds for birds.
In September 2019, we planted more than 260 native plant seedlings, plugs, and transplants of 19 species that provide food and shelter for pollinators and birds. In 2020, we added an additional six natives to fill where things had died. We’re happy to share our plant list with you. Be sure to visit next summer to see the garden in its prime. We are very grateful to our Maine Master Gardener Volunteers who made this project a reality!