The pollinator garden develops a “community” in the parish of Emmanuel

June 12—CUMBERLAND — Flags dot the hillside of Emmanuel Parish Episcopal Church to mark appropriate space and watering guidelines for a new pollinator garden.

Scott Rieker, Emmanuel’s associate priest and music director, is leading the project.

He came up with the idea for the pollinator garden when the church was looking for ways to cut expenses, and mowing the grass for the half-acre hillside costs about $5,000 a year.

More than 33 species of native plants, expected to grow between 3 and 10 feet, aim to eliminate lawn maintenance costs, protect the hillside from erosion and engage the public.

“It’s been a team effort,” Rieker said of creating the garden. “There was a whole community involved.”

New trees and shrubs include flowering dogwood, oakleaf hydrangea and winter mulberry.

Wild strawberry, bluebells and orange echinacea are also in the mix.

Emmanuel partnered with groups including the state Department of Transportation, Forest Service, Allegany County Public Schools and local University of Maryland Master Gardeners to complete the project.

Many volunteers helped plant the perennials and spread about eight dump trucks full of mulch delivered by Ebyland Landscape Supply Center LLC.

“We moved about 100 cubic yards of mulch … by hand,” Rieker said.

The garden includes small bushes and trees that will not block the view of the historic church.

“We were really aware of it,” Rieker said.

Additionally, a popular spot on the hill where people gather to watch fireworks will remain available, he said.

Some plants have already started to flower and the garden will continue to grow in the years to come.

The church received a $10,000 grant to cover about half of the project.

The garden should attract birds and insects, including carpenter bees, monarch butterflies, moths and hummingbirds.

Church officials plan to work with local beekeepers to establish bee hives in the garden, Rieker said.

Brad Williams is a junior proctor and seminarian at Emmanuel.

Building the pollinator garden had “a lot of moving parts,” he said of coordinating the hill’s preparation, volunteers and grant applications.

Each year, the plants will produce seeds and the garden will grow thicker, Williams said.

“Over time, it will add even more beauty to the community,” he said.

Hopefully the garden will serve “as an example and an inspiration,” Williams said.

“I was really pleased and inspired by all the help we received,” he said. “It was a really great community-building experience.”

The Rev. John Reardon is priest in charge at Emmanuel.

“I’m very excited about the pollinator garden project,” he said. “Emmanuel is fortunate to have a number of creative and energetic people who come up with excellent ideas.”

The garden will add to the beauty of Cumberland, address an urgent environmental need and invite the community “to join us in an effort we can all get behind,” Reardon said.

“I was delighted with the number and variety of volunteers who joined…

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