The Cherry Hill Environmental Board (CHEB) will celebrate Earth Day for the first time with a new pollinator garden day on Saturday, April 22.
Volunteers will meet at the garden at Colwick and Lenape roads to prepare pollinator gardens across the township and help plant native plants.
Cherry Hill has pollinator gardens in the following locations:
- Cherry Valley Trails (2 locations)
- Bunker Hill Trails
- Willowdale Trails
- Bowling Green Trails
- Cherry Hill Mosque (partner lands)
- St. Michael’s Lutheran Church (partner lands)
- Croft Farm (maintained by Horticultural Club of South Jersey)
The hope is that over the next few months, pollinator garden crews can be established to continue maintaining planting areas throughout the growing season to encourage more bees, butterflies and birds in the area.
CHEB Chair Lew Gorman explained that the first pollinator garden was planted at the Cleveland Avenue entrance to the Cherry Valley Trails five years ago, where a house once stood.
“This is nature and this is biodiversity,” Gorman said of that garden. “What we had before, the lawn, was a desert.”
Though it doesn’t look like much at the moment, with dried stalks cut down to around a foot high, when spring comes, the garden’s plants will begin to grow back. Plants include cone flowers, milkweed, echinacea and bee balm.
Gorman explained that the difference between pollinator and regular gardens is that the pollinator areas are specifically for planting native flowering plants that support bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. Regular gardens may have annuals that won’t grow back year after year and may have been genetically developed, thereby lacking pollen and nectar.
“What’s critical when you’re planting the garden is to have blooms throughout the summer into the fall,” Gorman noted. “You want some to come in the spring, some in the fall and some in the fall, because it’s like oh, we’re bringing all the bees here, and they got nothing. So we’re careful to plant plants that grow throughout the season.”
To get the first pollinator garden to where it is now, there has been a lot of groundwork in the past five years, including adding compost, augmenting the soil, planting and weeding. Volunteers will likely be doing similar work on April 22.
Cherry Hill is now a National Wildlife Federation-certified Wildlife Community.
“We had to get about 300 properties certified as Certified Wildlife Backyards under the National Wildlife Federation’s certification criteria,” Gorman said.
For a backyard to be certified as a Garden for Wildlife, the area has to have food, water, cover, and a place to raise young plants.
Pollinator garden day hours are 9 a.m. to noon. More information about the program can be found at https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Certify.
To volunteer with CHEB for Earth Day, visit https://www.chnj.gov/1102/CHEB-Events.