After a year of planning – and planting – Moab Bee Inspired Gardens volunteers are in the mood to celebrate. On Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to noon, they will host the official grand opening of their biggest project to date, a 1,000-plus-square-foot garden at the Aarchway Inn.
They're holding the event partly as a thank-you to the 12 to 15 volunteers who were on hand to help out, and as an introduction to the ecological design concepts that guided their work on the project.
“It's going to be a fun, casual, educational time where people who have heard about Bee Inspired Gardens and are interested can come talk to us and find out more,” Utah State University-Moab student intern and Bee Inspired volunteer Claire Core said.
Core often hears from individual homeowners who want to learn more about pollinator-friendly and water-wise gardens. She normally directs them to Bee Inspired's website at beeinspired.usu.edu. But she said this weekend's event offers them a great opportunity to speak directly with some of the group's most active members, who can offer them tips about ecologically friendly gardening methods.
At 9:30 a.m., TerraSophia founder and ecological landscape designer Jeff Adams will talk about earthworks and rainwater harvesting. His talk will be followed by a 10:30 a.m. overview of the Aarchway project, and an 11:30 a.m. tribute to Aarchway Inn owner Mike Bynum and others whose support was instrumental to the project's success.
“We want to make sure that (Bynum) gets credit for supporting ecological landscaping,” Core said.
The USU-Moab-led Moab Bee Inspired Gardens project grew out of the Grand County Conservation District's efforts to improve pollinator habitat, which, in turn, drew local beekeepers and gardeners into the fold.
A small group of volunteers established the first Bee Inspired Garden at Rotary Park on a rainy spring day in 2014. Five more projects have since taken root at USU-Moab, the Youth Garden Project and other sites around Moab and Castle Valley, and two new projects are in the works.
Adams first entered the picture when Core and Dr. Roslynn Brain of USU-Moab Extension Sustainability approached him with the idea of facilitating a community workshop just over a year ago.
“Through that, I just stayed involved,” Adams said. “I ended up helping and teaching and overseeing the implementation of it.”
With Bynum's blessings, Adams, Core and a group of volunteers set out to transform a barren, eroded and sandy hillside behind the Aarchway into a model garden that visitors and residents alike can learn from.
In April, volunteers began to expand the Aarchway's garden area with half-moon-shaped terraces that will slow down erosion at the site, and planted golden currants, paperflowers, creeping phlox, sundrops and other species that pollinators love.
Core said the garden has grown six-fold since that time, workshop by workshop.
In addition to the garden itself, Adams supervised the construction of new swales and basins to harvest stormwater runoff; volunteers also developed landscaped pathways that serve as buffers from the inn's parking lot.
Most recently, a group of Utah State University students from Logan helped volunteers put in more than 150 pollinator-friendly and water-wise plants, ranging from shrubs like sumac and false indigo to bunch grasses and hardy perennials like yarrow and echinacea.
“It's a really impressive, beautiful garden out there now,” Core said. “It's quite the change.”