Did you know that Forsyth County Extension Master Gardener and Master Naturalist volunteers partner with Forsyth County Public Libraries and the Parks and Recreation Department to provide public demonstration and education gardens around the county?
Although one of the gardens is named “The Secret Garden,” we don’t want these gardens to stay secret.
That’s one reason why Extension volunteers will be hosting events and activities at each garden on Aug. 20.
The other reason is to encourage people to participate in the Fourth Annual Great Georgia Pollinator Census, happening Aug. 19-20.
Why count pollinators?
Around 2006-07, the sudden demise of honeybee colonies around the world gained public attention.
As researchers tried to understand causes for this phenomenon, termed Colony Collapse Disorder, that claimed 30-90 percent of hives in managed apiaries, others noted declining populations of native bees.
Studies estimate there are over 3,500 different species of native bees in North America, and over 540 have been documented in Georgia.
Some native bees are crop specialists, like the southeastern blueberry bees and squash bees.
Around the world, 87 major food groups, representing 35% of our global food supply, depend on insects and other nectivores to spread pollen so that fruits, nuts, vegetables, and seeds can develop.
Agriculture is the primary basis of Georgia’s economy, and insects provide an estimated $488 million in pollinator services to the Georgia agriculture industry.
Habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, often caused by land disturbance, development, and urbanization, are major issues in pollinator decline.
Negative attitude towards insects is another threat to pollinators. In 2016, at the urging of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Georgia joined other states in creating a pollinator protection plan.
Georgia’s plan was jointly created by the University of Georgia’s Entomology Department and the Georgia Department of Agriculture, with input from beekeepers, fruit and vegetable producers, and others.
In the Georgia Pollinator Protection Plan, every Georgia resident has a role in supporting healthy pollinator populations.
The Great Georgia Pollinator Census, another UGA initiative, is a citizen science project launched in 2019 as a way to educate people about the importance of pollinators in our ecosystems as well as our food production systems, and to encourage all Georgia residents to participate in pollinator protection and habitat creation.
Why count pollinators in August?
Many flowering plants begin to wane in late summer and fall, making pollen and nectar collection challenging for bees, butterflies, wasps, and other animal pollinators. Scheduling the pollinator census for August accomplishes two goals.
First, it helps people learn about late-season plants that enhance their landscapes and support pollinators, such as crape myrtles, buttonbush, purple coneflowers, asters, sages, and goldenrod.
Second, children are back in school in August, and the pollinator census is a great STEAM project for the whole school. Teachers can find activities and lesson plans at ggapc.org/educators.
Learn and count at Extension volunteer gardens
Forsyth County Extension and our garden host partners invite everyone to visit the public gardens anytime, but we’ll have pollinator counting activities throughout the day on Aug. 20.
• The Secret Garden is behind the Cumming Library, 585 Dahlonega Street, Cumming. This garden showcases shade and drought-tolerant plants.
• The Pollinator Garden is at Hampton Park Library, 5345 Settingdown Road, Cumming.
In addition to supporting pollinators with flowering and host plants, this garden helps protect water quality in the Upper Etowah River watershed.
• The Poetry Garden at the Post Road Library, 5010 Post Road, Cumming, features edible landscaping.
• The Sustainable Community Orchard, located inside Chattahoochee Pointe Park, 5790 Chattahoochee Pointe Drive, Suwanee, hosts a variety of native fruit and nut trees.
• The Bethelview Trailhead Native Garden, 5120 Bethelview Road, Cumming, and the Louise Mashburn Native Plant Garden, at the foot of Sawnee Mountain, 2500 Bettis Tribble Gap Road, Cumming, both feature native plants, shrubs and trees.
Please come see us at the gardens. We’re counting on you!
UGA Extension strives to translate the science of life for use in everyday living. Forsyth County Extension is supported by the University of Georgia, Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, Forsyth County Board of Education, and United Way of Forsyth County.