St. Thomas Pollinator Path
The Pollinator Path is a series of gardens, some planted to attract pollinators and some planted for aesthetic purposes. These gardens allow students, faculty, staff and visitors to study pollinator activity and learn how to support declining pollinator populations.
How to Walk the Pollinator Path
Stop. Focus on movement. Notice the presence or absence of pollinators. Which plants are popular with pollinators, and which are they leaving alone?
We welcome your pictures on social media. Please tag your pictures by using the following hashtags #environment and #tommiebuzz.
Cómo se anda el camino
Pare. Concéntrese en el movimiento. Note la presencia o ausencia de los polinizadores ¿Qué plantas son populares entre los polinizadores? ¿Y cuáles dejan en paz?
Comparta sus fotos con nosotros en los medios sociales. Por favor etiquete sus fotos usando estos hashtags #environment y #tommiebuzz.
Wander the Path and Discover St. Thomas' Pollinators
This site is a focal point for Tommie Pride with its purple and white color theme. It also happens to be a hot spot for early season pollinators who flock to the block plantings of catmint on the one side and mid to late season Salvia, hyssop and ornamental onion on the opposite side.
“Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.” -Pope Francis (Laudato Si’ #12)
This site represents a traditional annual bedding plant design. The flowers were not selected for their value to pollinators, however, the Salvia attracts a moderate number of honey bees. The Alyssum border provides a great habitat for beneficial insects, like syrphid flies and spiders.
This new bed was designed to feature the "Chester the Jester" sculpture and pollinator-friendly flowers. The flowers are a combination of Minnesota natives and bulb plants. We're looking forward to seeing how long it takes pollinators to find flowers that were not in place last year!
“Each community can take from the bounty of earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations” – Pope Francis (Laudato Si’ #67)
These planters serve as showcases for summer annuals followed by evergreen arrangements in the winter. The challenge for these planters is to find annual flowers that actually attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. This year we had success with a two of the six annuals and will be using them again next year - Purple Heart Setcreasea, Bondi Blue Scaveola. It has been exiciting to see honey, bumble and other native bees drinking nectar from the Scaveola and gathering pollen from the Purple Heart blooms.
This bed has the second highest pollinator diversity on campus and is composed of 17 different species, 13 of which are perennials, 5 are native cultivars and 2 are Minnesota natives. On any sunny day, you can see a host of honey bees, bumble bees, and other native bees and butterflies visiting many of these nectar and pollen-rich flowers, especially the giant hyssop, Joe-Pye weed, Culver's Root, and yellow coneflower. The Zinnias are there for passing butterflies. Walk by slowly and don't be embarrassed to stand and stare for a bit!
The newly installed Medicinal Garden is home to over 75 species of annuals and perennials which have brought in a stunning array of pollinators including bumble bees, two-spotted long horned bees, green sweat bees, honey bees, syrphid flies, Monarchs and other butterflies as well as a Ruby-Throated hummingbird. You are welcome to sit at the center table or benches and soak in all the activity - weekdays from 8:30-4:00.
This rain garden was planted years ago with a mix of perennials selected for their ability to tolerate the conditions of a rain garden - wetter towards the bottom, drier at the top. New native plantings have been added to attract native bees. Currently, Turtlehead is the highlighted plant, which attract bumble bees, one of the few native bees strong enough to pry open the petals and get to the nectar reward.
The Stewardship vegetable garden and zinnia border have been attracting pollinators and birds for the last several years. The squash blossoms host specialist squash bees and the zinnias provide much needed nectar in fall for passing Monarch butterflies.
The Pollinator Garden hosts over 25 Minnesota native flowers that, in turn, host Minnesota native pollinators. This bed was created with plant donations from the Kings-Maplewood Club who donated about 100 plants in 2015 and another 125 plants in 2017. To savor the experience of this bed, you must stand a few feet away and just watch for movement. Don't look at the flowers themselves, look at who is ON the flowers and flying ABOUT the flowers. Once you see the activity, zero in and see how many different kinds of bees, beetles, flies and butterflies you can spot. This bed has our highest pollinator diversity due to the number of Minnesota natives.