Monday, September 09, 2019
A Lost Public Garden
There's a planting in the field at Turning Basin Park, across the street from the canoe livery. It looks like a curved hedge, but if you take a closer look, there's a sign buried in the foliage.
A butterfly garden was planted there years back, and a lovely sign erected to commemorate the effort. It was a good idea, a nice gesture, and then everyone went their separate ways.
A decade ago, helping WaterWatch with annual workdays at Turning Basin Park--part of Princeton University's freshmen bonding activities before the semester began--I noticed the forsaken garden and spent some time cutting down the woody growth that was starting to shade out the flowers. Each time it took no more than a half hour of skilled attention to discourage the weeds enough to keep the garden blooming for another year.
But WaterWatch passed into history, and with it my annual prompt to volunteer some care for this garden. Up grew the mulberry trees,
and the catalpas,
and the vine that will eventually claim all of Princeton, porcelainberry.
Gone are the butterfly-attracting flowers, as Turning Basin has returned to the default landscape of mowed grass, trees, and whatever. Shall we fault the planters of this garden who didn't follow up? Kids grow up and girlscout troops come and go. Maybe fault the lack of government budget for anything beyond unskilled, custodial maintenance of our public landscapes? Let's just say that love moved on.