Club’s Volunteer Park plant project receives a boost

Club’s Volunteer Park plant project receives a boost

Kensington Garden Club is pleased to accept a Community Foundation of Greater New Britain grant. The grant will be used to complete Phase 2 of the Volunteer Park Native Plants Project.

In partnership with the Town of Berlin, the garden club’s primary goal is to improve Volunteer Park and remove invasive plants; replacing them with native plants. Phase 1 has been completed as shown on the southeast side of the park along the building line. The invasive plants removed included Japanese Barberry and Burning Bush. These were replaced with native Cherokee Brave Dogwood trees, Red Sprite Winterberries and Oakleaf Hydrangeas.

Phase 2 of the project will improve the north side of the park along Porters Pass using some of the same native plants and Mountain Laurel. Phase 2 will also improve the southwest rock garden along Farmington Avenue and the Pollinator Garden that was previously established in 2018. The native plants selected will provide four season interest and seeds or berries that are beneficial to our native insects by providing food and shelter.

As described by the CT Invasive Plant Working Group, Japanese barberry is a multi-branched dense shrub that can grow to 8 feet in height. Shiny green to burgundy leaves are alternate along its thorny stems. Solitary yellow flowers bloom from March to April, and the fruit is a round or elliptical red berry. Japanese barberry is a popular landscape shrub that has escaped into many natural areas, and can grow in dense thickets in the understory of woods and forests. It is a prolific seed producer, and numerous birds eat and subsequently disperse the seeds.

Winged burning bush is a deciduous shrub, up to 20 feet in height, which invades forests throughout the eastern United States. The leaves turn a bright crimson to purplish color in the fall. Flowers develop in the spring and lay flat against the leaves. Fruit are reddish capsules that split to reveal orange fleshy seeds. Winged burning bush can invade a variety of disturbed habitats including forest edges, old fields and roadsides. Birds readily disperse the seeds, allowing for many long dispersal events. Once established, it can form dense thickets that displace native vegetation.

Winged burning bush is native to northeastern Asia and was first introduced into North America in the 1860s for ornamental purposes. It currently continues to be sold and planted as an ornamental or roadside hedge. Kensington Garden Club encourages the public to remove these invasive plant varieties from their home landscaping.

The purpose of the Kensington Garden Club is to operate exclusively on a non-profit basis for charitable and educational purposes, and for the well-being of the community and public benefit. The club promotes civic beauty, encourages improvement of public spaces, raises awareness of environmental concerns and advances the art of floral design and horticulture. Look for upcoming fundraisers to help support their mission. All profits are given back to the community. Also look for virtual educational programs beginning in September. These are posted on the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library calendar.

New members are always welcome. Contact the club via Facebook or

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