The Contemporary Garden Club of Princeton (CGC) is partnering with Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) and the municipality of Princeton to help Monarch butterflies and pollinator species such as bees survive by planting native plants at the base of the Princeton Battlefield Monument in front of Monument Hall. The project is an extension of the “Monarch Highway,” a nationwide effort to address sharp declines in the Monarch’s population due to destruction of milkweed by pesticides. Loss of native plants has also endangered bees and other insects that are essential to pollination of food crops, fruit trees and flowers.
The Contemporary Garden Club, which has worked on many community improvement projects over the last 50 years, hopes to inspire others to stop using invasive, non-native landscape plants that starve native bird populations and insects of what they need to survive. FOPOS, a land preservation and environmental education organization formed in 1969, shares this goal. It has previously partnered with The Garden Club of Princeton to support the Monarch Highway and to bring native plant advocate Professor Douglas Tallamy to speak at the Princeton Public Library.
Mayor Liz Lempert, who supports the current project, said she had received dozens of great letters from second graders at Johnson Park School urging her to sign the National Wildlife Foundation’s “Mayor’s Monarch Pledge.” “This project is a natural fit with that pledge, and with Princeton’s commitment to sustainability,” she said.
Jody Erdman, a member of the CGC and also of the FOPOS board, said, “The Contemporary Garden Club is happy to be adding butterfly milkweed, purple coneflowers and scarlet bee balm to the gardens at Monument Hall. All of these plants are favored by hummingbirds, bees, and Monarch butterflies that are important pollinators for our local environment.” She thanked Pam Ruch, the horticulturalist at Morven Museum and Garden, for consulting on the project.
CGC volunteers weeded the beds and installed the plants on Thursday morning. They were joined by FOPOS president Wendy Mager and board member Sarah Ringer, with Mayor Lempert stopping by to see their work. Ms. Mager said, “My friend Daniel Harris had the idea of extending the Monarch Highway concept from residential gardens and parks, such as The Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve that FOPOS manages, to areas around municipal buildings and corporate campuses. When Jody Erdman expressed the Contemporary Garden Club’s interest in a civic project, it seemed like a great opportunity to pursue that.” FOPOS is also working with Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association to incorporate these concepts into its work with corporations in the River-Friendly program.
Ms. Erdman and Ms. Mager thanked Dan Van Mater, Director of Public Works, for the Department’s assistance in supplying shovels and mulch, and for keeping the new plantings watered during the hot summer months. Volunteers from CGC will help maintain the plants until they are well-established. “The beauty of native plants,” said Ms. Erdman, “is that they want to grow here and generally require far less maintenance than exotic imports.” Pictures of the project can be viewed at www.FOPOS.org. For more information please contact Wendy Mager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-921-0789.
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