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Pollinator Pockets

Pollinator Pockets

Accent photo

6. UI Pollinatarium Designs

Sometimes homeowners and site managers are cautious about establishing native plants at their properties.  They have the mistaken notion that native means wild, unmanageable, or huge.  However, there are many options with natives that can meet the design goals for gardens, homeowners and larger properties.   

Four small prairie plots are in place at the University of Illinois Pollinatarium at 606 W Windsor Rd, Urbana, IL to demonstrate some planting options.  The plots are in the field just west of the building and contain short, medium height and tall plants and one plot of tall grasses and mixed plants.  Visitors will be able to envision how various size classes will look in their own locations.  For example, a city may find that a short planting is desirable in front of the library and a tall one is ideal for the sunny side of the fire station. 

Pollinators need plants that provide pollen and nectar throughout the growing season for species like honeybees as well as those that complete their nesting cycle in the spring or fall.  The plants in each plot collectively bloom through the seasons.  

Since individual insects need small amounts of food resources, even relatively small plots of a few square yards can provide a desirable resource.  The small pollinator plots are not intimidating and can be weeded and watered as necessary with minimal effort.  They also provide an opportunity to test the prairie concept before launching a larger project. 

It is also possible to include native plants in gardens with ornamental flowers.  For example, perennial prairie plants could be planted in the back of a bed, perhaps mixed with perennial ornamentals.   The front planting could contain the annual plants that many cities and park districts replant each year or season.  By combining the concepts fewer annuals would need to be purchased.

The Pollinatarium plantings are part of a project funded by the U of I Student Sustainability Committee to promote native planting on campus.  The designs used plants available late in the season.  Many other species could be used in the individual plots, as long as the plot provided suitable blooms throughout the growing season. 

Check out the designs below.

Plot 1: Short Plants (1-2' tall) in an 8' x 18' bed

Plot 2: Medium Plants (2-4' tall) in an 8' x 18' bed

Plot 3: Tall Plants (4-8' tall) in an 10' x 18' bed

Plot 4: Tall and Medium Plants with Grasses (4-8' tall) in a 10'x18' bed