Olympia’s newest park is for the bees

Capitol Campus Pollinator Garden is a great spot to bring kids, or just a lunch


Olympia’s newest park offers something for toddlers, seniors, skaters, lunch-packers, grade-schoolers, gardeners and beekeepers.

Not only that, Olympia didn’t have to pay a penny for it.  Not directly, at least.

The new Capitol Campus Pollinator Garden is a pocket park inside what’s otherwise called the East Campus of the Washington State Capitol.  It’s paid for from state funds and operated by the Department of Enterprise Services, not the Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation department.

The garden was dedicated on Wednesday by Governor Jay Inslee in front of some 40 people, including Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby who called the East Campus in which it sits “one of the biggest assets of living in Olympia.”

First pollinator garden

Governor Inslee said it was “great … to be dedicating the first pollinator garden on a Capitol campus in American history.” He then declared that all Washingtonians are “bug nerds” because “we like to eat” and “we do not eat without pollinators.” 

“You can’t overstate the importance of the pollinators to our economy, to our culture or to our personal ability to survive,” he added. 

“We really like to eat,” the governor said, “and we do not eat without pollinators. Our bread, our vegetables, our everything comes from these pollinators. Without pollinators, our goose is cooked. Because there won't be anything to eat in the state of Washington. It's that simple. We depend on those 600 species of bees in the state of Washington.

“You can't overstate the importance of the pollinators to our economy, to our culture or to our personal ability to survive,” he continued.

A teaching garden

“Having a teaching garden is a big deal, in my view,” the governor said. “The more, we can get people to look around, in their gardens in their lawns and their sidewalks, the more people will be dedicated to keeping this ecosystem healthy that we all depend upon. There's been something like a 70% reduction in insects in some populations worldwide. We know that climate change threatens every species in some fashion of changing the ecosystem we have. When Washington dries out, we know it's going to affect some of these plants, and we're going to have less pollinators around to take care of our crops. We're all connected to the smallest pollinators,” he concluded.

First educational garden

It’s the “first educational garden on the Capitol Campus,” according to George Carter, assistant director for the buildings and grounds division of the Department of Enterprise Services.  He added that “any time his team plans “new landscaping on the campus, 25% is dedicated to pollinator habitat.”

The East Campus is always open, the admission is free.

How to get there: 

It’s on the East Campus, directly above the East Plaza Garage – actually, above the 14th Avenue tunnel.  Park on the main Capitol Campus and cross over Capitol Way using the concrete footbridge. The garden is less than 100 feet east of where the bridge connects to the East Campus. 


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