New pollinator garden generates some buzz

Today, the day after Earth Day, St. Bartholomew Catholic Parish members are paying homage to perhaps the planet’s most industrious, fertilizing farmers: bees.

They are doing so from 9 to 11 a.m. with the opening of their new, 20-foot-by-40-foot pollinator garden just outside the front door of the church at 1306 27th St. in Columbus. The added garden makes sense in Columbus, which has become the first Indiana affiliate of Bee City USA for its pollinator protection.

The church and school’s plot of fresh, black soil actually sits closest to National Road, which organizers love for the sake of passing pedestrians being able to enjoy the beauty. Volunteers have installed plants and flowers specifically to attract mason bees, which are docile and do not sting because they have no queen to protect.

“There’s a lot of foot traffic there (on the sidewalk) from people who jog and walk,” said Kim Rayburn, a professional landscaper and also the St. Bartholomew groundskeeper. “So I’m really hoping that people will notice.”

The location only a few feet from the church building is great for another reason, according to Quinike Nusawardhana, outdoor learning lab coordinator for St. Bartholomew Catholic School.

“People will be able to see the bees from the church windows,” Nusawardhana said.

The overall project and today’s activities are a joint effort from the church’s On Care For Our Common Home Ministry and the school’s climate restoration team.

The garden features a total of 76 plants from 12 different species, according to volunteer Chuck Burkart, who emphasized that the pollinator park and garden movement has been part of a national trend for some time. He pointed out that at least 30 percent of the nation’s food needs pollinators.

“But we have destroyed 99 percent of the native prairies by putting buildings and parking lots on them,” Burkart said. “I don’t think that we did that on purpose. I don’t think we actually began realizing the impact of that until recently.”

He added that farmers are now renting bees hives because of a shortage of pollinators.

The space includes varities such as red cardinal, echinacea purpurea, Virginia bluebell, native Blue Iris, shasta daisies and more. Planners expect bees to find their way to the garden very shortly.

“If they know that the daffodils are here, they’ll come,” Rayburn said.

Mason hives have been installed on small posts as part of the garden creation. Today, the Bartholomew County Public Library’s Cleo’s Seeds Share program will have free seed packets of plants and flowers available for the public.