EAST GREENWICH –The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) has announced that the East Greenwich Township Environmental Commission will be the recipient of a $1,500 grant to create a sample pollinator garden in Mickleton Park on Democrat Road.
“Although it is important in general to establish pollinator gardens in our parks to support the diminishing natural areas throughout the state, this garden will have an additional purpose” said Bruce Hooper, the Environmental Commission member leading the project. “The Commission hopes to use this project to help educate residents and visitors about native plants as well.”
When completed, the Mickleton Park Pollinator Garden will feature labels that list each plant’s common and scientific name and include a QR code that can be scanned on a visitor’s phone, linking to additional information about the plant. Visitors to the garden will not only be able to see and enjoy the plants at the park but will be able to consider what plants will work in their own yard.
“We are thrilled that ANJEC has chosen to recognize the value of this project,” said East Greenwich Township Mayor Dale Archer. “The garden will be both a benefit to the environment and a source for learning about native pollinator plants.”
Cynthia Carola, certified landscape architect and member of the Commission, designed the pollinator garden as a series of several small plots with paths throughout. Each plot will contain groups of several different native pollinator plants chosen to provide continuous bloom throughout the growing season.
The plan design using smaller plots with paths is intended to encourage visitors to linger and allow them to get up close to the plants, read the plant signs, and scan the QR codes for more information about the various plants.
“The Environmental Commission considers it extremely important that residents of our township understand the importance of native plants to our ecosystem,” said Environmental Commission Chair Chris Nelson. “We also endeavor to include an educational aspect in every project we work on. It is our goal for the Mickleton Park Pollinator Garden to address both of those considerations and to be an inspiration for visitors to create their own pollinator gardens.”
The project began officially in April, when Environmental Commission members planted a small section of the proposed pollinator garden with plants donated by Denise Dersch, a member of the Mickleton Garden Club, who obtained them through the Horticultural Society of South Jersey. Those 25 plants were supplemented with additional native plants propagated by Lucy Hooper, also a Mickleton Garden Club member. Although this is only a small section of the proposed pollinator garden, it will be in full bloom when the main section is planted approximately one year after.
The planting of the large main portion of the pollinator garden will not take place until the spring of 2022. To avoid the need of frequent weeding, the existing grass and weeds in the planned garden space will need to be eliminated by smothering the area with a layer of cardboard, then covering it with six inches of wood chips for about a year. When using plugs instead of mature plants, as the Commission is in this case, the seedlings will need the first year to establish roots. Most of the plants will bloom the second year and become a mature garden the third year.
“The advantage of using native plants is that, not only do they support our native pollinators and thus the birds and butterflies, but watering after the first year is not necessary,” said Committeeman Bob Tice, the Township Committee Liaison to the Environmental Commission. “We look forward to this garden becoming an established source of beauty and an informational resource for our residents for many years to come.”