Monday, June 01, 2009

A Garden Grows in Harrison Street Park

This wildflower garden in Harrison Street Park was full of flowers last summer, and is off to a good start this spring. The photo shows five things that are helping this garden thrive in a town park.

The stakes and string clearly mark its boundaries, so the mowing crew knows to steer clear. The mulch, which the borough supplied and neighbors distributed, suppresses weeds.

In the distance, up the slope, is a parking lot, from which flows runoff during rains, providing the garden with additional water that it can absorb and use during droughts. The lack of trees growing near the garden, combined with the runoff, provides the wet-sunny conditions that are optimal for the success of a showy native wildflower garden.

Most important, and key to any garden, is the gardener, in this case Clifford Zink, who lives next to the park and has brought community resources together--plants from friends, mulch from the borough, and particularly his time and interest--to make these plantings an aesthetic and ecological asset for the park.

There is even an educational dimension--perhaps we should call it passive education, in the same way we refer to passive recreation. Investing in passive outdoor education means creating places like this where, if parents and children happen to wander over, they can discover the great variety of plants native to our area, and can scrutinize all the winged and webbing creatures that find sustenance there.

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