Visitors to Nevis may not be aware there is a quiet spot to take a break from biking the trail and spend some time watching butterflies and bees flitting among the flowers next to the Nevis Visitor Center on Hwy. 2 adjoining the Heartland Trail.
The Nevis GFWC Women’s Club spent several years planning the pollinator garden project and raising funds. With donations from the community, the project became a reality last fall. This spring, native plants from Prairie Restoration of Hawley went in, and now many are blooming with color.
“Visitors have told me ‘what a restful, lovely spot it is and a great addition to Nevis,’” pollinator garden committee chair Judy Anderson said. “A lot of bikers on the Heartland Trail stop there to take a break. It’s a nice place to take a quick wander through, sit on the bench, relax and see things blooming. The garden is not overly lush, but it will fill in with our pollinator-friendly plants.”
Anderson said the project has cost around $8,000 and is part of the club’s mission to give back to the community.
“It’s good for the environment and it attracts people to stop and as long as they’re resting from the trail they might as well get a coffee, have lunch or go to an area business,” she said. “It certainly helps the environment and is something to look at, rather than just an empty piece of land.”
Club member Sue Gray said volunteers have been watering the garden once a week most of the summer. Gray, who is a master gardener, said all plants had to be pollinators native to Hubbard County and approved by the state Department of Natural Resources.
“We have milkweed, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susans, daisies, yarrow, shade plants like Solomon’s seal, columbine, bell wort and spiderwort,” she said. “We have three different colors of violets, and asters are just getting ready to bloom. Blazing stars may be blooming soon and butterflies are starting to come.
“We used clay plates to create butterfly puddlers with a little sand, loose rocks and a little sea salt. We put water in them and those are for the butterflies to sip and get minerals.” Gray said that is something people can do at home to help attract butterflies to their yards.
The plants in the garden are small because it’s the first year.
“There’s a saying that plants sleep the first year, creep the second year and leap the third year,” Gray said. “These are all perennials that will come back, and we’ll probably add some more plants in the spring.”
On the back of the Chamber sign, there is a big poster that tells all about pollinators and lists project donors. A map of the garden, listing all the plants, is also in the works. Signs are already placed near the plants for those walking on the path to look at as they stroll through the garden.
A branch off a nearby maple tree fell at the garden’s edge during the recent tornado in Nevis, but no plants were damaged during the storm.
The next project in the works is even bigger.
“We’re going to move forward on the pollinator highway,” Gray said. “We’re looking for a Legacy Grant to put pollinators along the whole Heartland Trail in the city limits of Nevis for a mile going towards both Akeley and Park Rapids. The DNR wanted to make sure we got this garden completed first, and they are very pleased. We have money for a match and a bid that needs to be updated.”
“There is also an educational component we plan to incorporate in the future and fun things like pollinator bingo,” Anderson added.
The Nevis GFWC Women’s Club will hold a dedication ceremony at the garden Friday from 10 a.m. until noon. A large mural painted by local artist Gary Wolff will also be dedicated, and refreshments will be served.
“The mural was painted in his studio on a 4-by-8-foot piece of plywood,” Gray said. “Gary donated his time for this.The mural will be attached to the side of the chamber building.”