Congregational Church of Tryon celebrates Earth Day with Spriggly’s Beescaping

Published 12:32 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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TRYON—On Sunday, April 21, the Congregational Church of Tryon celebrated Earth Day with a special guest and presenter from Spriggly’s Beescaping.  

Brannen Bashan and his wife Jill Jacobs captivated the audience with their presentation on the interdependence of native plants and native pollinators. They are passionate about turning degraded landscapes into ecological havens for wildlife, especially pollinators and, in particular, native bees. Their business is built around habitat restoration and the creation of landscapes that are diverse and multilayered. Their focus is on education, providing the building blocks that make obvious the connection between nature and people.

Polk County’s Kudzu Warriors have been engaged in this very same effort of educating the public. They are also doing a tremendous job of removing kudzu and letting native vegetation once again see the light of day. About 25 years ago when living in Wisconsin, I belonged to a group that was engaged in restoring prairie remnants, hoping to bring back native pollinators, bees, and butterflies. We called ourselves the “Habitat Healers.” Although there was no kudzu, the Amur or Japanese honeysuckle bush is equally challenging while Russian olive, bittersweet, and other invasive plants apparently do not respect any boundaries, geographic or otherwise. Areas colonized by non-native and invasive species might as well be declared dead zones as far as pollinators are concerned.

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For years, honey bees have been in the spotlight. We recognize their plight when we should be equally concerned about our native bees and the loss of suitable habitats for their survival. Honeybees are kept as domesticated livestock. We medicate them and provide housing and extra food when needed. All our native bees ask is a place to live in peace in an area that is free from poisons. 

For nesting and feeding, they require wild and untouched sites, leaf litter, dead trees, grasses, and some soft, bare earth for ground nesters. Many have very specific food preferences and host plants. A biodiverse landscape with lots of native flowering trees and shrubs will meet those needs. 

The Congregational Church campus now has over 50 different plant species and will continue to add to this list as it removes more invasive plants, thereby following Brannen’s advice: “During the growing season, you should have at least one plant in bloom at all times for a source of nectar and pollen. It will keep your garden abuzz.” 


Submitted by Christel Walter