Cathy Ford (L), Patrick Baird (C) and Koltin Kenney (R) pause midway through their maintenance efforts at the westbound Bliss Rest Area's Pollinator Garden.

Perfecting plants for productive pollination

Earlier this week, I did something I have been wanting to do for quite some time now — I visited the D4 xeriscape pollinator garden located at the westbound Bliss Rest Area just off Interstate 84.

Installed in 2018 through an ITD partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the garden is packed full of native plants and pollinators (listed below). In recognition of National Pollinator Week (which ran this year from June 22-28), ITD Roadside Program Manager Cathy Ford, along with D4 TTOs Koltin Kenney and Patrick Baird, met up for a morning of maintenance at the site.

“The purpose of this garden is multifaceted,” explained Ford. “It reduces water consumption and manhours that would be required for the maintenance of grass. It also serves as a native source for pollinators in the area.”

Although xeriscaping requires little to no attention, the ITD location, along with the plants and shrubs planted there, still need a little tender love and care.

“The vegetation here is still not fully established and winds in the area can carry invasive and unwanted culprits to the landscape.” stated Ford. “Pulling weeds a few times a year will help keep the garden in proper condition.”

In addition to weeding, Ford will also be taking inventory of what plants and shrubs are thriving, and which are dying. The overall condition of the garden is promising.

“I volunteered to come lend a hand with the garden’s maintenance,” said Kenney. “I actually helped prepare the area for initial planting a few years ago and I think it’s great how things have progressed.”

Ford said the next step is to work on signage for the area to help educate travelers on plants and shrubs that are native to the region.

“It would be great to see more efforts like this elsewhere throughout the state. I’m hoping in the years to come, we will witness exactly that.”

If you have an idea or location in mind for a pollinator or xeriscape garden in your district, please contact Cathy Ford at to share your thoughts.

For a full list of the vegetation planted at the Bliss Rest Area, see below.

Published 06-26-20