Bernheim’s Spillway Becomes Pollinator Habitat

By Renee Frith

A spillway’s main purpose is to serve as overflow drainage space for existing bodies of water like Bernheim’s Lake Nevin. Bernheim was mandated to create an emergency spillway to protect our neighbors in the event of a 100-year flood. It would have been easy to do the bare minimum and just leave this space grass, but that sure is boring and not Bernheim’s style. Bernheim connects people with nature in many ways, so in celebration of Pollinator Week, we want to highlight our newest pollinator habitat, the Spillway Meadow.

The Spillway Meadow is located to the north of Lake Nevin and is easily accessible for all by following a flat gravel path and cement sidewalk that guides visitors from the Garden Pavilion parking lot. The bright yellow blooms of Coreopsis (tickseed) and Rudbeckia (black-eyed susan) are vibrant and vast across the meadow. Monarda puncata (beebalm) is sturdy in structure with its lovely, stacked tower of flowers. Beebalm is prevalent around the margins of the meadow. The emergence of Echinacea purpurea (coneflower) is beginning and creates nice surprises of interest as you being to look closely all the different species. Silvery strap-like foliage clumps of Andropogon gerardii (big blue stem) are also beginning to form.

Immerse yourself in the space by meandering slowly through the mowed path that runs through the middle of this awe-inspiring meadow. Many native species of bees are present, along with honeybees, butterflies such as the eastern tiger swallowtail and cabbage white. Where there are insects, there are also many species of birds. In less than two growing seasons, this space has been transformed into a viable habitat.

Always remember to embrace nature, nurture nature, and connect with nature. Bernheim encourages all who own land to lend a little to help support pollinators. Planting a few native perennials, where there were none before, is a valiant effort toward supporting our decreasing pollinator populations.

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