By Victoria Gaither
Work is in full bloom at the Chaffee Art Center on South Main Street in Rutland on the new pollinator gardens.
In March, the Rutland County Audubon Society or RCAS received word that a 2022 collaborative grant from the National Audubon Society to help establish pollinator gardens on the grounds was approved.
“We are excited to announce that we will be creating pollinator gardens of native plants behind the mansion on the grounds near the Carriage House,” said Sherri Birkheimer Rooker, director of the Chaffee Art Center.
One of the first steps was to clear away and open the grounds behind the Chaffee mansion in preparation for the pollinator gardens. “We are thankful to Kurt Hathaway and his crew for doing this job and Markowski Excavating for donating the topsoil,” Rooker said.
The project is a dream come true for the Rutland County Audubon Society.
“We had been wanting to plant pollinator gardens in the county in public spots to educate the public about their importance,” said Kathleen Guinness, RCAS president.
It will be a sight to see when in full bloom, and Guinness is hoping interest in gardens will lead to education about bees and plants.
“Pollinators make the world go ‘round. Without bees, insects, and birds, we would have very little plant growth, and pesticides and herbicides have killed so many of them,” explained Guinness.
Pollinator gardens are popular nationwide, with varying sizes. The idea is to plant predominantly with flowers that provide nectar or pollen for a range of pollinating insects.
Rooker became interested in the gardens after learning about them through an RCAS wildlife art show at the center last fall.
Planting will start soon; a mixture of flowers will create the gardens. In all, 20 bushes and 80 flowers will go into the garden.
The flowers include black-eyed susans and wild bee balms. Besides the gardens, other work has been done to the mansion to help spruce it up and keep it in good shape.
Volunteer Linda Miller and her crew from GE helped with a walkway. “It was such an amazing few days spent putting in a walkway that had been removed years ago. My team is very proud of the work we did, and we point it out every time we see it.”
Miller added that she is thankful to GE for allowing her to volunteer and give back to important centers like Chaffee. “GE has allowed me to keep that volunteering bug alive through the 40 years of my employment, and I am so grateful and proud of all that we have accomplished and will continue to do so even after I retire this summer.”
Miller’s retirement comes just in time to help get dirty in the pollinator gardens.