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News: Smithsonian Pollinator Garden Showcased for United Nations World Bee Day


May 18, 2018

The Smithsonian Institution’s Pollinator Garden, recipient of funds from the GCA marking the millennial year 2000, is being showcased as part of United Nations May 20 World Bee Day, intended to draw global attention to the importance of preserving bees and other pollinators. As part of the international celebration, Smithsonian Gardens has shared digitized files of interpretive panels found in the garden for use by public gardens internationally.    

The U.S. Embassy Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, collaborated with Smithsonian Gardens to bring the pollination investigation panels to Slovenia.  The Smithsonian collaborated with the University Botanic Gardens Ljubljana to translate each of the interpretive panels for use in Slovenian public gardens. The panels will be permanently on display in the Ljubljana Botanic Gardens and in other formats at various botanical gardens throughout the country.  

Slovenia proposed to the UN the proclamation of World Bee Day.  After three years of work behind the scenes, the UN passed the 20 May World Bee Day resolution in late 2017, cosponsored by 115 UN member states, including the United States.

The Pollinator Garden highlights the interdependence between plants and their pollinators, including bees, beetles, and butterflies,  All of the plants, grasses, and trees in the garden were selected to provide nourishment and shelter to pollinator insects. Funds donated by GCA clubs and their members as a millennial year 2000 gift to the nation tripled the size of the garden to 16,000 square feet. The gift also provided for the installation of walks, an irrigation system, and an amphitheater seating area. The garden opened in 1995, established as the Butterfly Habitat Garden with funds from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. In 2016, the garden was rededicated as the Pollinator Garden to showcase a wider diversity of pollinators.

The GCA’s partnership with the Smithsonian dates to 1987, when the GCA donated 3,000 glass lantern slides and more than 22,000 35mm slides to the Archives of American Gardens (AAG). In 1992, the GCA Collection officially became part of the AAG. GCA member clubs across the country document gardens for the AAG.

The UN selected May for World Bee Day, when the need for pollination is greatest in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, May is the time for harvesting honey.  May 20 also is the birthday of Anton Janša (1734-73), a pioneer of modern beekeeping and the world’s first teacher of modern beekeeping.

The Smithsonian’s Pollinator Garden, Washington, D.C.


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