Hiller Park gets a new garden Friday

The Mississippi Urban Forest Council will dedicate a newly established pollinator garden at Hiller Park in Biloxi on Friday at 10 a.m.

The 1,400-square-foot garden, which is situated in a grassy wetland swale a stone’s throw from the children’s splash pad, is planted predominately with flowers that provide nectar or pollen for a range of pollinating insects.

Funding for this project was provided through a grant to the Mississippi Urban Forest Council under the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The initiative focuses on establishing sustainable pollinator gardens in urban and rural settings. The placement of this garden within the park represents a unique opportunity to realize multiple benefits for pollinators, the environment, and the City of Biloxi, as the site’s caretaker.

The garden also will benefit from stormwater runoff from the children’s splash pad and adjacent uplands. Benefits realized by the restoration of this site to more natural conditions, through the planting of wet-loving trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, include:

— the reduction of landscape maintenance (mowing) that was complicated by the wet conditions,

— support for a wide range of pollinators, as sources of nectar from flowers, as host plants for caterpillars, and as nesting sites for pollinators, and

— enhanced treatment of runoff from the splash pad and adjacent upland areas, thereby improving water quality to the nearby Back Bay of Biloxi.

Interpretive signage will educate visitors about the value of the wetland raingarden and the importance and value of pollinators to the environment. This site will also host educational workshops on these same topics.

The Mississippi Urban Forest Council had a number of partners on the project besides the City of Biloxi. Financial and technical support was provided through the State and Harrison County offices of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Harrison County Soil & Water Conservation District. Also involved were the Harrison County Master Gardeners and the Renaissance Garden Foundation.

The Mississippi Urban Forest Council’s mission is to foster and promote proper management of urban and community forests for social, economic, and environmental benefits to people through innovation leadership, communication and educational services. For more about this project, contact Dr. Mark W. LaSalle, 228-990-1495 or mwlasalle@gmail.com.
Photos gallery: See the planting

News & notes: Eagle Point park, traffic update

Eagle Point park: The city will conduct a public hearing to provide an overview of a new city park at Eagle Point. To see the public notice, click here. To see the 50-page Environmental Assessment for the project, click here.

Traffic update: The lane closure on U.S. 90 south of the Biloxi City Cemetery is scheduled to end Friday at 5 p.m. For a look at how construction projects are impacting traffic citywide, click here.