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Mid-America Science Museum’s new pollinator garden

ARKANSAS — Forest Service employees, Garland County Master Gardeners, Diamond Lake Master Naturalists, and Arkansas Native Plant Society members joined together to plant three pollinator gardens at the front entrance of the Mid-America Science Museum, in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The idea for planting the pollinator gardens came from Barry Horner, Diamond Lake Master Naturalist and Virginia McDaniel, Forestry technician, Forest Service Southern Research Station in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Horner approached McDaniel with the idea to showcase the beauty and diversity of Arkansas flora with native plant, pollinator gardens at the entrance to the Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs. McDaniel said/thought the idea seemed to fall in line with the Forest Service mission of conserving and promoting natural systems as well as educating the public.

Horner and McDaniel visited Mid-America and suggested they apply for an ANPS grant to assist with the project. Once Mid-America received the grant, McDaniel went to work. She enlisted the help of Susan Hooks, the Ouachita National Forest’s botanist and ecologist, to assist with garden design and deciding what plants would provide the best pollinator habitat. They chose plants that were aesthetically pleasing and that would provide color throughout the seasons.

McDaniel and Hooks designed the gardens and then helped Mid-America locate the desired native plants from a reputable native plant nursery. Approximately half the plants were donated by several ANPS members. 

Funding for the project was obtained through the Arkansas Native Plant Society’s Small Grant program. Grants are provided for projects that promote awareness and education of Arkansas native plants to the public. In addition to the plants, the grant will fund several education interpretive signs related to pollinators and native plants.

Members of the Diamond Lake Master Naturalists, Arkansas Native Plant Society, and Forests Service help plant native plants at the Mid-America Science Museum pollinator gardens. Forest Service photo by Virginia McDaniel.