Claytor Lake State Park Pollinator Gardens


6620 Ben H. Bolen Drive

Dublin, VA 24084

Visiting Hours

6:00 AM - 10:00 PM*

*Park entrance fees apply. See details from Virginia's DCR here.

Volunteer Contacts

In December 2018, Claytor Lake State Park (CLSP) rangers applied for a grant from the Garden Club of Virginia for a project that supports or exhibits conservation, beautification, horticulture, preservation and/or education. They decided to ask for funds for a native plant pollinator garden. Their grant was approved in early 2019 but CLSP was unable to work on the pollinator garden that year due to budget cuts.

In early 2020 raised beds behind 12 of the cabins were built. They were each three feet wide by 12 feet long and about 1 foot high. Blackberry Mulch in Christiansburg generously donated many dump truck loads of soil and mulch for these new raised beds.

On Sunday, May 10th, 2020 (mothers day), Brenda Graff, president of the local chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, and park staff lead Virginia Native Plant Society and Master Naturalists volunteers on a volunteer planting day. The weather was wonderfully conducive for those in attendance to get their hands dirty, and despite a small group size (30 volunteered but only ten were allowed) due to covid group limits, the work went quickly and efficiently. Though one couldn't tell by looking, the cloth face coverings of the day concealed many big smiles as the park staff repeatedly heard from the volunteers how happy they were to be outside, helping the park out, and planting!

The newly created raised garden beds behind twelve cabins were planted. Other areas planted include the raised rock-bordered beds in which the Claytor Lake State Park entrance sign and Water's Edge Meeting Facility signs reside, next to the contact ranger station, and in the mulch bed within the triangular intersection of Ben H. Bolen Drive and State Park Road.

During the planning phase of the project and multiple emails and phone calls to and from Brenda Graff and Wood Thrush Native Nursery in Floyd, CLSP decided on purchasing and planting Eastern hay-scented ferns, phlox (divaricata and stolonifera), heart-leaf foamflower, cardinal flower, hoary mountain mint, butterfly weed, evening primrose, and thread-leaf coreopsis. Brenda coordinated with other volunteers to divide the plants in such a way that they would wind up in locations with suitable levels of shade and sunlight.

Most of the plants survived, grew and bloomed during 2020. In September, Mary Rhoades, a former president of the local chapter of the VNPS, counted 17 monarch caterpillars of varying sizes on the butterfly weed in the garden bed in front of the Waters Edge Meeting Facility. Later that month she counted three chrysalises in which the caterpillars were turning into butterflies which hopefully later migrated to Mexico for the winter.

During 2023 we have enough help weeding the pollinator beds. But the monarch caterpillars could be counted and the data sent to a citizen science project called Monarch larvae monitoring project. Other insects and/or birds ie. hummingbirds on the cardinal flowers can be observed and added to iNaturalist. If you would like to volunteer, contact Brenda Graff via the form at