Pollinator garden opens on Capitol Campus to protect bees, butterflies, birds

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A new pollinator garden was unveiled at the Washington State Capitol Campus on June 22 to support butterflies, bees and birds. It is full of plants that attract these pollinators, as well as provides them with food, water and shelter. Signs throughout the garden feature information about the importance of pollinators, their role, how to attract them and how to protect them. 

The pollinator garden is about 1,000 square feet, sitting over the 14th Avenue tunnel on the Capitol Campus. In the middle of a busy, active campus, the garden is meant to provide a peaceful antithesis for legislators, state employees and visitors. 

The garden was made in partnership with the Office of the Governor, the Washington Department of Enterprise Services, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Agriculture, the Woodland Park Zoo and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. It follows the decline in pollinators scientists have documented over the past few years. Declines have been caused by habitat loss, invasive species, pesticides and climate change, but officials believe human intervention can protect the various species. 

Pollinators are responsible for pollinating more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species, according to the WDFW. 

“Washington is the most beautiful state in the country and our pollinators are a contributor to that,” said Governor Inslee. “They allow for diversity in our environments and are crucial to the health of those environments.”

Funding was allocated to the Department of Enterprise Services through the state supplemental budget, and its Grounds Operations Team will maintain the garden. 

“We are thankful for the partnerships that made the first educational garden on the Capitol Campus possible and especially for the efforts of our Buildings & Grounds team who worked rain and shine to install the garden,” said DES Director, Tara C. Smith. “I hope this new feature will be enjoyed on the campus for years to come, and that it inspires people to enjoy pollinator gardens in their own homes and businesses.” 

WDFW pollinator and plant experts collaborated to design the garden and its signs, highlighting key messages about native plants and animals. Woodland Park Zoo also collaborated on the concept, helped build the garden and procure plants and designed the signage. 

“Bees and butterflies are remarkable. These amazing animals are so tiny but make such an enormous impact,” said Erin Sullivan, Woodland Park Zoo Co-Curator, pollinator conservationist and entomologist. “So many plants, flowers and trees exist because pollinators help them thrive, like Washington’s beloved apples and cherries. This garden is a reminder that by transforming our own understanding and behavior, we can create healthy habitats for these miraculous creatures.”