By Marilynn Palmer, Simsbury Garden Club President, Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge Board Member, CT Hort member, and Volunteer Master Gardener
Hop Brook Landing at the Flower Bridge, a new town park located at the site of the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge in Simsbury, was completed in the late fall of 2019. While walking the site and inspired by the environmental movement to eliminate invasive plants and replace them with pollinator-friendly native plants, I saw an opportunity. It included clearing invasives from along the meadow edge and the planting of native trees, shrubs, and perennials along the surrounding edges of the meadow to create a self-sustaining pollinator pathway link.
In March of 2020, I met with Jan Lintner, Chair of the Flower Bridge Basket Committee, and with staff from the Simsbury Town Parks and Rec. Dept. to discuss the plan. This project is in keeping with the mission statements of the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge Committee, the Simsbury Garden Club, the Connecticut Federated Garden Club Presidents Project, and the Uconn Master Garden Program. So, I invited each of these groups to participate!
By the end of May, autumn olive, Japanese barberry, bittersweet, poison ivy, and scrub brush were removed from
the site. Volunteers from all of these organizations as well as volunteers from town spent better parts of Saturdays removing rocks, amending soil, and planting. During the growing season, five redbud trees, nine summersweet shrubs, 12 winterberry shrubs, 14 diervilla shrubs, 120 ferns, and 108 perennials were planted. All of the plants were generously donated. Because of the severe drought during the summer, tireless volunteers watered the area almost daily for the entire growing season. The shrubs and trees survived and flowered. A grant from the Master Garden Association provided plantings, soil amendments, and edging for a rock wall on the property.
Future plans for the 2021 season include planting of daffodil bulbs, additional perennials, and ground covers along the meadow edge.
The plan was ambitious. But so were the volunteers! The new Hop Brook Landing at the flower Bridge Park is beautiful and the addition of the new garden has enhanced this site and created a haven for our pollinators. I am grateful for the support and hard work from the many volunteers from the Hartford County Master Garden Program, the Simsbury Garden Club, the ODHFB Committee, and from other volunteers from the Simsbury area who came together to help make our community an even better place!