Volunteers create pollinator garden at Rudolphi Wildlife Refuge

Published 3:59 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023

DOWAGIAC — A group of local volunteers are giving the Rudolphi Wildlife Refuge a makeover.

Last week, volunteers began construction of a pollinator garden at the entrance of a popular walking trail in the area.

Steve Zebell and a group of volunteers from Dowagiac’s Rotary Club joined local high school students and city officials to landscape the scene. 

Hartline said that the project has been in the works for about five years. She said that while it was known the landscape needed to be redone, it wasn’t until the right group of volunteers came along so that the project could get started.

Bobbi Jo Hartline, the executive secretary to Dowagiac’s City Manager, drew inspiration from a neighbor’s butterfly garden when planning the new site. 

“This has been a neglected site for quite some time,” Hartline said. “It is a wildlife refuge, so we try and not touch it, but it needed something.” 

The pollinator garden will consist of native plants that attract insects local to the area that promote plant growth and the ecosystem. All plants are non invasive and native to southwest Michigan. 

After clearing the area of old mulch and tree stumps, volunteers were able to begin planting. Many plants being used in the garden were sourced from flower beds already maintained by the city. Most plans at the wildlife center are low maintenance and will return each year. 

“We kept in mind who needs refuge, and who needs food and housing,” Hartline said. “Butterflies, bees, birds, lightning bugs, and dragonflies.”

Hartline said that she is hopeful the pollinator garden will help the local wildlife and make the popular nature center even more appealing.