Oneida County pollinator garden nearly complete behind courthouseSubmitted: 09/20/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Oneida County pollinator garden nearly complete behind courthouse
RHINELANDER - In a sea of green and purple, the gold and black of a bumblebee tickled Baerbel Ehrig pink.

"It's really exciting," Ehrig said.

Thursday morning, the Oneida County pollinator coordinator happily walked through her nearly finished garden, dodging raindrops while spotting at least two bees and a monarch butterfly.

"There's a lot of food and shelter," Ehrig said.

Plants like tickseed, anise hyssop, and yellow cornflower all offer the insects a natural home behind the Oneida County Courthouse. Ehrig's Land and Water Conservation Office and volunteers planted the flowers in late June, just after workers from Hanson's Garden Village installed a walkway through the space.

The project dates back to last October. It was largely made possible through a $5,000 grant from the Bayer Corporation and $1,500 from Wisconsin Public Service.

"[We want people to] experience the garden, to not just be able to look at the flowers from the sidewalk but to be inside the garden," Ehrig said.

Ehrig wants people to enjoy nature, but the garden goes deeper than that. She wants you to understand the importance of bees and other pollinators, which is where the sign comes in.

"I like how vibrant it is, and it catches your eye," graphic designer Janice Bureta said.

Bureta worked with Ehrig for about a month on the "perfect pollinator garden" display. It provides tips and a smartphone-accessible QR code with more information on pollinators. The project was all part of a learning process for Bureta.

"[I knew] a little bit [about pollinators], but not this much. Now I know a lot more," Bureta said with a laugh. "And now I already have plans for my garden next year."

Ehrig knows the upcoming winter's snow will put her bright garden to rest for the season, but the perennials are set to offer a home to the very insects she plans to protect and a rest stop for the people who will benefit from the work.

"It's definitely become a space for the community," Ehrig said.

Students from Lakeland Union High School will help complete the garden next year. They'll build a bee house and water tank to install next spring.

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