Gardens go up at Education Center

Published 2:56 pm Thursday, May 4, 2023

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By Randi Clifford

South Central Master Gardeners

Master Naturalists Emily Jones and Becky Giovannetti teamed up with Master Gardeners Randi Clifford, Paula Wood, and local homesteader Lindsay Conway to design and plant pollinator gardens at John Kerr Reservoir’s Joseph S.J Tanner Education Center. Funding for the gardens became available through the Change X Grant, which is dedicated to helping build thriving and sustainable communities. It connects businesses with the community and helps to provide funding, resources and support to those who want to start impactful projects.

The team spent several months designing the almost 4,000 square foot area using concepts of repetition, texture, and balance to produce a pollinator area that focuses largely on native plants. Here you’ll find a combination of drought tolerant familiars such as Rudbeckia, Echinacea and Liatris. However, colorful shrubs like Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) and grasses such as the colorful Little Bluestem offer all season curb appeal.

The group wanted to ensure that the individual gardens maintain their balance so they limited the use of aggressive spreaders to only certain areas. A few of the beds were designed with a theme in mind. You’ll spot a flag pole garden made up of red, white, and blue annuals and perennials and a butterfly garden made up of host plants, such as Fennel and Milkweed.

Between the early bloomers like Phlox and shrubs which offer winter interest like the Artic Fire Dogwood, the gardens will offer a broad tapestry of colors and textures while attracting beneficial insects and pollinators at the same time.


The Tanner Education Center is located at 5164 Buggs Island Road in Boydton. The facility is open weekdays. However, the gardens are always open to the public without restrictions.