Next time you’re in Cold Spring Park, take a look at Newton’s latest native wildflower pollinator garden, between the driveway and tennis courts, opposite the Green Newton booth at the Tuesday afternoon Farmers Market.
This is the first public garden in Newton to be based on the research of UMass Dartmouth Professor Robert Gegear, of UMass Dartmouth, on saving indigenous bees and butterflies and the plants they depend on. It especially aims to support two bumblebees—the golden northern and half-black bumblebees—
that were once common in our yards and parks but are now at risk of local extinction in Massachusetts. Bumblebees ”play a critical role in maintaining ecosystem health and biodiversity,” according to Dr. Gegear.
The 28 species of native plants in the garden will provide pollinators with nectar and pollen from early spring to late fall, and include host plants for at-risk butterflies. The garden will be fenced until the plants are mature enough to survive the voracious local rabbits. Most of the plants are tiny now, and It will take a couple of years for the garden to really fill in.
We hope to inspire Newton residents to use more of these plants in our yards to help restore biodiversity and increase climate resilience. We will use the highly visible location next to the Farmers Market to help educate visitors to the benefits of conserving native plants and pollinators that are in decline from habitat loss, pesticides and climate change. In addition to their wildlife benefits, deep-rooted indigenous plants reduce stormwater runoff, store more carbon and better withstand drought than turf grass or many non-native plants.
The planting was led by Life Scout Dobi Wallober with Troop 209 and Friends of Cold Spring Park volunteers.
Funding is from Friends of Cold Spring Park with the help of grants from Green Newton and Newton Conservators, and funds raised by Dobi Wallober.
The Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture has provided critical support by suggesting the use of the highly visible location, removing the sod, and stationing a water trailer to help the plants get established.
Special thanks also to Freddie Gillespie, Newton native and now chair of the Southborough Open Space Preservation Commission, who has advised groups throughout the Metrowest region on creating pollination preservation gardens; to Parks & Recreation Commissioners Beth Wilkinson and Mark Feldhusen, who also participate in the Newton Community Pollinator Project founded by Councilor Alicia Bowman; to Evan Abramson, of Landscape Interactions, for publishing model garden designs based on Dr. Gegear’s research; to the Lincoln Land Conservation Trust, for sponsoring presentations, webinars and demonstration gardens by Dr. Gegear and Mr. Abramson that originally inspired this project; and to Bluestem Natives, a nursery in Norwell that specializes in native plants, including most of those on Dr. Gegear’s plant list.
For more information on Dr. Gegear’s research and complete plant list for supporting at-risk bees and butterflies, see https://gegearlab.weebly.com/.
We will need volunteers to help water and weed the garden. If you’d like to help with those activities, or with making other improvements to the park, email FriendsOfColdSpringPark@gmail.com.
Alan Nogee is President of the Friends of Cold Spring Park.