BERLIN – Sun’s out, rakes out — the Kensington Garden Club lost no time in beautifying the town as soon as spring arrived.
The club recently celebrated completion of the Native Plants Project — a collaborative effort with the town to remove invasive plants in Volunteer Park and replace them with native plants in a new landscape design.
The project, which was initiated by the club, was partially funded by the town and a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain.
Mayor Mark Kaczynski thanked all participants.
“This park is kind of a centerpiece of Berlin, probably the busiest intersection in town, so it’s great it finally looks good,” said Kaczynski.
Over four months, the team removed all invasive shrubs, such as burning bushes, and barberry bushes, as well as plants that were past their prime. The removal freed space for native species and reduced the amount of invasive spread, said Kensington Garden Club President Paula Archacki.
The invasive plants were replaced with a variety of native plants and trees chosen by the garden club.
Informative plant tags tell visitors about each plant and its features.
“This effort provides an opportunity to educate our community about the negative impacts of non-native invasive species and the benefits of natives,” said Archacki.
The newly-planted flowering dogwood, which is the club flower, will bloom with rosy-pink flowers in late spring before the foliage, while its dark-green leaves will turn crimson in fall. The red sprite winterberry will produce bright red berries, which will also feed the birds. The oakleaf hydrangea will bloom with large white-cone-shaped flowers in the summer. In the fall, the flowers will turn dark pink while the leaves will take on a deep red color.
Mountain laurel, the official state flower, is in front of utility boxes in a shaded area.
Non-native Knock Out Roses replaced a hodgepodge of plants in an area with a rock dedication that is visible to foot traffic as well as vehicle traffic.
An array of additional plants were used to enhance the existing Pollinator Garden that was started two years ago. This area includes Red Twig Dogwood that will provide a contrast of red branches against the white snow in winter complementing the red sprite winterberry display.
“The other native selections are proven to do well in North America so they will be pest-free, they will provide beauty and healthy pollination opportunities for the butterflies and the bees as well as a natural habitat for insects and butterflies,” said Archacki.
The project was executed in two phases. The first phase, which cost approximately $2,500, was funded by the town while the second phase was funded by a $2,500 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain.
The garden club will continue to be involved in the maintenance of the park garden.