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Local birds, insects and other animals that pollinate crops and flowers have a new home at the Wellesley Police Department: a recently planted pollinator garden. The Wellesley Natural Resources Commission (NRC) successfully applied to host one of only three such gardens in Massachusetts as part of Pollinate New England, an initiative of New England Wild Flower Society (NEWFS) that raises awareness about how to help reverse the decline of these critical species.
“Pollinators are vital to our food supply because they ensure healthy crops and facilitate nearly 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants. Throughout New England and in Wellesley the number of pollinators has dropped sharply in recent years due to a lack native plants that provide the right food and habitat,” said Stephanie Hawkinson, NRC environmental education and outreach coordinator. “We hope the demonstration garden at the police department will serve as a model for residents and inspire them to incorporate native plants in their home gardens.”
On a cloudless day in late June, 11 residents took part in a hands-on workshop, planting Wellesley’s new 150 square-foot garden. Guided by Pollinate New England coordinator Annie White, a landscape designer and University of Vermont professor, and Mark Richardson, NEWFS botanic garden director, participants learned about pollinator garden best-practices that include:
• plant a diverse range of native plants
• avoid pesticides and chemical fertilizers
• prep garden sites with compost and mulch
• provide water and nesting spots such as decaying wood and leaf litter
"As an artist, I've always enjoyed creating eye-pleasing gardens, but through this program I learned how terribly important pollinators are - and not just bees," said homeowner Roy Perkinson. "I'm eager to follow these tips and see the results in my own yard.”
An evening talk provided more in-depth discussion on the importance of native plants and which ones to use for the most impact. Detailed workshop and lecture information is available at www.wellesleyma.gov/nrc.
The pollinator garden project is closely aligned with the NRC's Grow Green Wellesley initiative, which encourages reduced pesticide use and promotes earth- and pollinator-friendly landscaping and lawn care. The NRC partnered with the Wellesley Police Department to find the garden location and Department of Public Works landscapers Cricket Vlass and Susy Jordan to plan and subsequently maintain the garden. The town currently uses pollinator-friendly plants in many of its garden spaces and plans to expand this practice.
For residents who are interested in planting their own gardens, Pollinate New England offers resources that include pollinator garden kits from NEWFS, free summer on-line courses, a plant database, and more. Visit www.newenglandwild.org for details.