Published: Sep 04, 2012 06:20 PM
Modified: Sep 04, 2012 06:25 PM
CARRBORO - First came the birds, pecking at bugs and bits of wood mulch. Later, the bees buzzed from spike to spike, gathering nectar from a hyssop plant.
Around them, a three-person crew from YardSprout pulled weeds, watered plants and cut the spent blooms in their adopted garden at the corner of West Main Street and Hillsborough Road.
We have been envisioning a lot of different ways to transform more urban space and to build a beautiful, valuable asset, said Andrew Pearson, YardSprouts founder and CEO.
One way is through the towns newly launched Adopt-A-Garden program. Carrboro Public Works Director George Seiz said it is modeled on the states Adopt-A-Highway program, which started in 1988 to combat a growing litter problem.
With additional planning, the garden program could be expanded next year, he said.
Although the town grew flowers on the corner for several years, they werent doing well, so workers plowed up the garden. They were considering replacement plants when YardSprout approached town officials about creating sustainable green spaces, Pearson said.
YardSprout worked out a deal with Niche Gardens, Southern States and the town to buy plants and take over the garden, said Kim Herold, vice president of design and gardening.
The town waters the garden and provides leaf mulch, which breaks down to form a natural fertilizer. YardSprout maintains the garden at its own cost without pesticides or other fertilizers, Pearson said.
The focus now is on growing a healthy garden and building a strong program, he said.
YardSprout is a two-fold operation based at the Carolina Entrepreneurs Exchange in Chapel Hill. One part is a for-profit clearinghouse connecting landscapers, farmers and gardeners to potential customers. The other is a nonprofit that spreads the word about sustainable landscaping.
Herold served as the master garden planner, making a list of drought-tolerant, native plants with colors that would attract pollinators. The garden also had to meet N.C. Department of Transportation restrictions, since its located in the right-of-way of two state-maintained roads. No plants could be taller than 3 feet, and the garden couldnt obstruct the flow of traffic.
They planted the 5-by-40-foot garden with coneflower, coreopsis, ruella, little leaf sage, dianthus, lambs ears, yarrow and other plants in late May. As native plants, those wont require as much care, time or cost once established, Herold said.
The perennials and herbs will attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and flies that will carry pollen on their bodies to other plants in the area.
Pearson said there is a growing awareness that fewer pollinating plants are available to insects and wildlife. As development spreads, native flowers are replaced with expanses of grass and native wildlife species are reduced to mostly ants and deer. Lawns need more water, too, and droughts over the last several years have shown that is not sustainable, he said.
The loss of native flowers also poses a real threat to farmers, because roughly 80 percent of vegetables and fruits need to be pollinated, he said.
Its just really important for communities and individuals to realize that you can have really beautiful native flowers that actually support the wildlife, particularly the pollinators are a pretty central part of our food system, Pearson said.