2017 Research 3rd Place (tie) – McCollum Park Pollinator Garden, Snohomish County, WA

Pollinator Teaching Garden
McCollum Park, Everett, WA 98208
Information and Process of Construction and Reporting

When we began we realized we had quite a daunting job ahead of us. The garden that we had volunteered as interns to adopt was surrounded completely by parking lots and driveways. Others had tried in the past to take on this pretty little spot but had given up because there was no irrigation in the garden.

So it was, that we determined that our first order of business would be to figure out how to bring water to our garden.

We talked about many options:

1) Running a hose with sort of a tent to cover it, but people would have to drive over that and it could be a tripping hazard etc..

2) Digging a shallow trench and running the hose just under the surface then repaving, but then if it developed problems we would have to dig up the road.
3) We finally decided the best way would be to ask the foundation for funds to hire a company to boar down well under the freeze line and run a pipe so we could run plenty of water lines to accommodate all of our water needs both present and future. Thankfully our Foundation generously agreed to fund this.

After meeting with our coordinator, the person in charge of this particular demonstration garden, the facilities manager, the people at the county, their superiors and finally the inspectors who all gave us the necessary approvals. We were on our way….

This was a huge task. We dug holes on both sides of the driveway, then the company we hired came in with the boring equipment.

Our second step was to draw plans, both action plans and a garden design plans. Our Plan was to promote pollinators locally so we decided to make this garden a pollinator friendly spot. We envisioned bees, hummingbirds, bats, butterflies and a host of other insects flocking to our garden, so of course this determined what type of plants we would choose.

We wanted to make it a place to teach and to learn, for MGs, children, students and adults alike.

Next we needed a way in, so we made a path in to the garden and a place to sit and enjoy the flowers and flying and crawling visitors.

After the construction we began adding plants, trees, shrubs, a small mud bath , arbors, bug hotels, and bee boxes. We hope to add bat boxes later this year.

Some of the things we did to encourage pollinators were to:

  • We provided mason bee boxes.
  • We left some bare soil and provided a muddy area for ground nesting bees.
  • We built a bug hotel with 6 different sections, each containing a different medium such as reeds with holes in them for mason bees and other insects that like to climb inside, soft fluffy things like cattail and cottonwood fluff for hummingbird nests and other birds, straw, twigs and other items that various bugs and pollinators might use.
  • We built underground Bombus nests.
  • We provided misting to attract the hummingbirds. And…
  • We included rotting logs to attract decomposer insects.
  • We also made a display of a wasp nest enclosed in Plexiglas for the public to see.

And of course we wanted the garden to be pretty:
We dug a path, then added gravel.

We lined the gravel with large river rocks.

We added a Drip Irrigation System

We brought in mulch to improve the soil added a bench to sit on to enjoy the garden and started adding a plethora of plants. We tried to make sure we had something blooming in all seasons so that the pollinators always have something to choose from.

We added Fuchsia baskets to the arbors for the hummingbirds and put misters on each end for them as well. Then we waited for the pollinators to come.

We have also added some stumps and rock piles for other insects. We continue to add new plants every season and our garden has become quite a lovely place to sit and enjoy the afternoon.

Part of our job now is to observe what plantings are most effective and what nesting areas are most popular so that we can continue to improve the garden.