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Natural pollinators beneficial to our ecology

Kristi Hendricks

National Pollinator Week (June 18-24) is a time to celebrate pollinators and embrace what you can do to protect our bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The Pollinator Partnership describes how pollination is a vital stage in the life cycle of all flowering plants. When pollen is moved within a flower or carried from one flower to another of the same species, this activity leads to fertilization. This transfer of pollen is necessary for productive native and agricultural ecosystems so vital to our local economy.

Most pollinators are beneficial insects such as beetles, wasps, butterflies, moths and bees. Want to see some of these critters in local action? Stop by the native plant habitat created in 2015 to celebrate the grand opening of the historic ferry Capt. John Smith Deckhouse. The Deckhouse is now landlocked at the Surry County Historical Society in the Town of Surry on 281 Bank St., and open for tours. Call 757-294-0404 to schedule.

The CJS was the first modern car ferry to service the James River from Jamestown to the Scotland Landing. The ferry Deckhouse has been restored to its appearance in 1925 when the service provided an important connector for the Maine to Florida traveler through Surry County to Jamestown, site of the first permanent English settlement in America.

Before taking the ramp topside, stroll along the sidewalk through the native plant garden. The Virginia DGIF-certified pollinator habitat demonstrates improved landscape tactics using native plants for increased wildlife and pollinator diversity. The profile display identifies over 40 species of pollen attractors as those plants launch into the growth season.

Lovely flowers of blue flag iris embrace the sunshine reflecting off the Deckhouse’s starboard side. Red lobelia and blue pickerel weed happily bloom atop a bed of hardwood chip mulch. Soon to follow are seashore mallow, swamp milkweed and coastal Joe-pye.

Bustling bee, turtle, toad and bird activity keep the habitat humming with activity while the flowers urge them on to greater productivity. You are sure to enjoy this habitat that is irregularly-shaped to mirror a tidewater pocosin bog. Just don’t disturb the hungry inhabitants of the bluebird box positioned in the northern corner of the habitat.

While there, experience the newly installed Fence Line Habitat for Woodland Birds. You’ll find sweetbay magnolia, persimmon and sassafras getting settled in their new home and ready to support local wildlife. The Deckhouse and pollinator habitats comfortably link our history with horticulture, binding the past with the future. Stop by to celebrate.

The final WTMG Bring Gardening Home event for the spring season will be today, June 16, in the Carrollton Branch, Blackwater Regional Library, starting at 10 a.m. The topic will be “Hot Weather Gardening.” VCE educational programs are open to all.

KRISTI HENDRICKS is a member of the Western Tidewater Master Gardeners. Contact her at GardenontheJames@yahoo.com.