Early spring flowers in western Oregon provide more than just a colorful relief from the otherwise gray and rainy end of winter. Most native pollinators hibernate during the winter, and they need an easily accessible source of pollen and nectar to feed on after a long slumber. Not many flowers are blooming early in the spring, which can make being a bee difficult. One group of Oregon State University Master Gardener apprentices in Lincoln County designed a garden to provide food for pollinators — and beautiful flowers for humans — throughout the spring, summer and fall.
One of the requirements to earn an OSU Master Gardener badge in Lincoln County is to create an educational project in one of the demonstration gardens managed by the Master Gardener program. Rebecca Hooper, Diane Bryan, and Greg Kurtz, three apprentices in the 2017 Master Gardener program, chose to collaborate on one project: a year-round pollinator garden at the Oregon Coast Community College central county campus in South Beach.
The goal of the pollinator garden was to provide OCCC students and visitors with a beautiful demonstration of the varieties of easy-to-grow plants that will attract pollinators throughout the growing season. The garden was primarily planted for the hundreds of bees that could visit there, but hummingbirds, butterflies, moths and other pollinators benefit from gardens that flower year-round.
Each apprentice prepared a separate raised bed specifically for plants that will flower in either the spring, summer or fall. Each plant was labeled with its common and scientific name so that visitors might be able to create a plant list for their own home garden.
The year-round pollinator garden exceeded everyone’s expectations. The raised beds were prepped in April of that year, and flowers started blooming as early as May and continued through November, fairly late into the fall season for the Oregon coast.
The diversity of pollinators visiting the beds was surprising, and it motivated the master gardeners to become involved in the Oregon Bee Atlas Project, a new and ambitious initiative of the Oregon Bee Project to identify and catalog all native species of bees in Oregon.
The garden that Hooper, Bryan and Kurtz created demonstrates a great way to provide food for native pollinators and a beautiful, blossoming garden all season long. People who want to create their own pollinator garden can find a wide variety of information online at www.oregonbeeproject.org/garden. People are also welcome to check out the pollinator garden at the OCCC campus, located at 400 SE College Way in South Beach.