This article by MELANIE THIBEAULT, Valley Breeze Staff Writer appeared in the Valley Breeze on July 1, 2020
LINCOLN – Walkers and cyclists will have something new to see as they pass by the Kelly House Museum in Lincoln after members of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society planted more than 160 native plants in a new pollinator garden at the site last Friday morning.
“It’s amazing,” Bonnie Combs, of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, told The Breeze. “It’s a real exciting opportunity.”
The project started when Tyler Shepard, a seasonal ranger with the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, created the honeycomb-shaped design for the garden, as well as a list of plants that could grow there, according to Combs. Due to delays caused by the coronavirus, including Shepard’s return to work, Combs said she asked if it would be OK to find some plants and get the project started.
After seeing a request for donations of plants in a previous Breeze article, Linda McDaniel, board member for the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, contacted Combs and asked if they could sponsor the project.“I ride my bike past there all the time,” said McDaniel, of North Providence, about the site, which is off the Blackstone River Bikeway.
In addition to McDaniel, other volunteers from the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society who helped with the planting were Sherry Dzamba, Peggy Buttenbaum, Mary Jane Verdier, George Cunha, and Sue Theriault, all of who volunteer in the Seed Starters East group to raise native plants for the society’s annual plant sales. Combs and her friend, Charlotte Chase Fortes, also helped.
Some of the native plants include cardinal flower, bonset, and Joe-Pye weed, according to McDaniel, who added that they selected plants for all types of pollinators, including bees, flies, and hummingbirds. The plants will be blooming from spring to fall. “We wanted to make sure all the plants in there are historically native to Rhode Island or southern New England,” she said.
The next step, Combs said, is to add educational signage letting people know it’s a pollinator garden. McDaniel said she hopes the garden educates folks about native plants and inspires them to plant them in their own gardens. The garden space that previously existed was not functional, Combs said, but the new garden provides food and a habitat for pollinators.
“Plus, it’s going to be beautiful,” she said. “As (people are) walking, they can enjoy the lovely garden.”