SWAMPSCOTT — Insects will have their own home on the Town Hall front lawn.
A pollinator garden was planted in front of the building Sunday, thanks to volunteers and weeks of work from members of the Swampscott Conservancy and the Open Space and Recreation Plan Committee. The garden will provide food, shelter, and nesting areas for native wildlife, said conservancy president Tonia Bandrowicz. Residents will be able to document the wildlife they find by uploading pictures and notes to a website called iNaturalist.
“If people see insects on the garden they can add photos and then we can see and document the ones that come in and out over time,” said Conservancy Board of Directors member Colleen Hitchcock. “The Swampscott Conservancy is really trying to promote our native biodiversity and create spaces in planned spaces, like town hall, as well as in our conservation lands, like Harold A. King Town Forest.”
The efforts were completed in collaboration with the conservancy and the committee and with help from the Swampscott Foundation, the town’s Department of Public Works, and the office of Community and Economic Development. Volunteers spent most of Sunday planting the garden with pollinating plants such as mountain mint, New Jersey Tea, milkweed — which will be a home source for monarch butterflies at all stages of life — beebalm, and false sunflower.
Designed by conservancy volunteer Suzanne Hale, the perennial native garden will need minimal upkeep and maintenance, said Hitchcock. Once established, it should take care of itself, meaning less work, less energy and no need for fertilizer.
The idea came to fruition early spring when they the organization discussed the committee’s Open Space plan for 2020, which included a goal to restore the old rose gardens that beautified the front of town hall, said Hitchcock. Bandrowicz, also a member of the committee, thought it a productive plan to partner the two organizations and plant the pollinator garden to create a home for native biodiversity.
“To promote the use of native plants, especially pollinator plants, the Conservancy proposed this pollinator garden which dovetailed with the Open Space plan objective of reviving the old rose garden on town-hall property,” said Bandrowicz in an email. “The overuse of pesticides and loss of natural habit has greatly affected pollinating insects, such as bees and butterflies, which are essential for plants to produce seeds and fruits.”
Why native plants over non-native plants? Native insects prefer to forage on native plant species over introduced (non-native) plants, according to a brochure created by the conservancy. When fewer native plants are available, there is a bigger chance certain pollinator populations may decline.
“This garden — which will be planted and designed with specific nectar and pollen producing plants — will attract pollinating insects, such as butterflies, as well as birds,” said Bandrowicz. “The garden can also be used as an educational tool for kids and adults alike, and will hopefully spur homeowners to create their own pollinator gardens.”