Conservationists take over James City marina garden

jojacobs@vagazette.com

A few more butterflies may be flitting around James City County Marina this spring.

The county Economic Development Authority agreed Thursday to allow Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory to replant a neglected garden on property rented by Billsburg Brewery at the marina.

The lease between the authority and Billsburg, the tenant, allows the brewery to improve the property’s landscaping, according to county documents.

The garden could serve as a springboard into future efforts to beautify the marina area as the county seeks to develop it further.

“We think this could be a potential opportunity to see how this goes as we get into redevelopment,” James City Economic Development Director Amy Jordan said.

There isn’t a cost to the county for the project, though it donated at least five yards of mulch for the garden, said Kate Sipes, James City assistant director of economic development.

Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory had approached Billsburg about restoring the garden and began initial work on the space in October. The nonprofit conservation expects the garden to take shape in May, said Brian Taber, the nonprofit’s president.

Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory will clean and replant the space, which is about 4,356 square feet and fenced, to create a butterfly garden, which will serve as a survey location for the nonprofit to study butterflies.

The garden, which will also attract birds, will include signs to educate visitors about the species of plants present, Taber said.

The garden will feature several plants, including joe-pye weed and mountain mint, to maximize the number of butterflies and birds. The group’s volunteers will provide the plants, Taber said.

The nonprofit has existed for more than two decades and operates similar gardens elsewhere in the region, such as on the Eastern Shore. Eco Discovery Park, an outdoors recreation nonprofit, originally planted the garden, which fell into disrepair after the group ceased operations at the marina two years ago, Taber said.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette
52°