If you’ve been to the park’s visitor center lately, you may have noticed some changes out front. A large area to the right of the sidewalk that connects the far end of the parking lot with the visitor center has been undergoing an ecological facelift of sorts.
Many years ago a pollinator garden was put in place by park staff member, Jessie Summers, but after Jessie retired, and due to staffing shortages, the garden couldn’t be kept up. Enter park technician, Hayley Anderson. Hayley designed a new garden and secured funding.
But then Covid happened and the park’s staffing resources were needed elsewhere, so the garden was put on hold. But, as Covid concerns wound down and staffing positions were filled, construction on the pollinator garden was underway once more. By this time Ms. Anderson had moved on to Carvers Creek State Park as a Park Ranger, so park staff member Liz Thomas took over. Ms. Thomas is a Maintenance Construction/Technician level II for the park and she was tasked with completing the project.
Work started up again and several truckloads of fill dirt were delivered. Lumber, some of which was donated by Jones Lake State Park, was used to build raised garden beds. Gravel was delivered and spread for walkways. Campbell University’s Dr. John Bartlett helped to identify (and donate several) native plants. Some plantings were also donated by Broadwell’s Nursery in Angier, and still more plants were purchased to fill the rest of the garden in. Mulch was purchased and spread. Ray Womble Jr. and his wife Jan, donated materials for the gazebo, a centerpiece of the garden – staff member Brian Hamilton, Supervising Maintenance Construction Tech III for the park, worked diligently and hard to build it. An official Little Free Library was also built and stocked. And a beautiful gate was constructed for the entrance.
Bit by bit the garden has come together. Bit by bit the staff of Raven Rock State Park has poured their hearts and hard work into this effort, and it is now a reality. To top it all off, it had been recognized as an official stop on The Butterfly Highway by North Carolina’s Wildlife Federation. Pitstop #2867.
Three cheers to the hard working staff of Raven Rock State Park. Come on out and enjoy the garden, and oh yeah, the park too!