Press release from Bee City USA Hendersonville:
Even as a Bee Mural is being painted on the exterior wall of Hands On! Children’s Museum in downtown Hendersonville, a demonstration pollinator garden is being prepared in the nearby areas of Azalea parking lot, where the work on the mural is most visible. In coming weeks, visitors to the site on Third Avenue East between Main St. and King St. may see landscape architect Tricia King of TTK Design transforming this site into a diverse pollinator garden and habitat.
After removing old plants and amending the soil, King will beautify portions of the site and parking lot with pollinator-friendly perennials, herbs, and trees to serve as a working pollinator garden and demonstration plot for the community.
“Next spring, visitors can reference the types of plants they can install in their own gardens and yards to protect and nourish pollinators,” King explained. “We have chosen native plants that are colorful, easy to grow, and are beneficial to bees, wasps, butterflies, and other important pollinators. The mural serves as a beacon to the plantings beneath and will both educate visitors and beautify the area.”
In addition to butterfly weed and coreopsis, for example, visitors will see indigo, sage, and white wood aster. All plants will be labeled for easy reference, and King designed the pollinator-friendly garden to be handsome year-round.
The landscaping project is part of the Bee Mural initiative of Hendersonville’s Bee City USA, Hands On! Children’s Museum, and The Good of the Hive, and is funded by a Deer Park Brand Sustainability grant in partnership with Blue Ridge Parkway Association. The grant is designated for projects that inspire individuals to preserve the ecosystems within our communities. Henderson County Tourism Development Association applied for the grant on behalf of the Bee Mural initiative.
“Henderson County Tourism Development Authority is delighted that Bee City Hendersonville received one of three inaugural sustainability grants from Deer Park Brand in partnership with the Blue Ridge Parkway Association,” said Beth Carden, TDA executive director. “This garden project goes hand in hand with the beautiful bee mural and will bring visitors from near and far to see how this community supports nature.”
Public Invited to Watch
Muralist Matt Willey, who is on a mission to paint 50,000 honey bees (the number in a healthy hive) in murals around the world, is painting the Bee Mural Project in downtown Hendersonville during November. This larger-than-life bee mural is being meticulously hand-painted by Willey on the exterior walls at Hands On! Children’s Museum building, facing Azalea parking lot, in downtown Hendersonville (along Third Ave. between Main St. and King St.).
Organizers have been working toward Willey’s arrival to paint the mural for about two years. Fundraising events and in-kind support have involved numerous businesses, individuals, and organizations, with over 50 sponsors and countless other contributors so far. The community has supported this project by helping raise money to pay the artist, prepare the wall where the mural will be painted, and design the pollinator demonstration garden now being installed.
During the weeks it will take to paint the mural – brush-stroke by brush-stroke, starting high on a boom lift and working down to ground level — Willey purposefully involves viewers, thus becoming a pollinator educator as well as a painter. Through art and imagination, his work inspires curiosity and awareness about the importance of honey bees and other pollinators while celebrating the power in human connection. Weather permitting, Willey will be on-site almost daily. The community is invited to stop by to meet the artist and watch him bring the mural to life … or follow the progress virtually through a series of video updates about the bee mural project to be posted regularly at www.facebook.com/beecityhendersonville.
Why Are The Mural and Pollinator Garden Important?
First, this project helps extend the children’s museum’s mission of inspiring creativity and wonder through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) to the entire community, according to Joseph Knight, executive director. Additionally, the mural expands the growing art appeal of downtown Hendersonville’s ArtScape banners, colorful hand-painted bears, and the large handsome mosaic nature scene created by Ukrainian mosaic artists in the 1990s … all of which make downtown Hendersonville a family-friendly arts destination. The Bee Mural is included on the Appalachian Mural Trail along with five other murals on or around Main Street (www.muraltrail.com). It is expected that the mural and demonstration plot will inspire more pollinator-friendly plantings by homeowners in their backyards, window boxes, and plots of land, such as the recently installed 5-acre wildflower meadow along Hendersonville’s Oklawaha Greenway. Most significantly, according to many bee-mural enthusiasts, it points to the important agricultural businesses and farm-to-table movement in Henderson County, acknowledging that honey bees and other pollinators are important to the community’s economy and heritage.
Community Participation Encouraged
All fundraising events and online campaigns planned during Willey’s visit – see more at https://handsonwnc.org/hive — will help the project accomplish the following long-terms goals:
- establish a fund for ongoing care and maintenance of the bee mural.
- install and enhance a pollinator garden along the wall at the base of the bee mural which will serve as a demonstration plot for attracting pollinators to home and business landscapes.
- expand pollinator-related STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education programs for students, and support community presentations by the artist.
- join the Appalachian Mural Trail and develop/promote a downtown Hendersonville mural trail.
- support future museum exhibits related to pollinators, agriculture, food systems, and ecosystems.