DELMAR — It’s creating a lot of buzz.
A new project taking shape in front of Bethlehem Town Hall challenges residents to restore native habitats one backyard at a time. The work of horticulturalists such as Doug Tallamy, whose book, Nature’s Best Hope, provided the inspiration and a group of local gardeners took action.
Pollinator populations are in decline, in part, because the native plants they depend upon for food and reproduction are disappearing.
We depend on these pollinators, and other insect populations, for many essential services. They not only pollinate blossoms, but also aerate the soil and control insect and plant pests. Many insects, especially beetles, are scavengers, feeding on dead animals and fallen trees, thereby recycling nutrients back into the soil.
Now they depend on us.
The Town of Bethlehem is responding by re-imagining part of its front yard.
Saturday morning, April 30, volunteers gathered at the Town Hall to begin the first phase of installation. The group included members of the Bethlehem Garden Club, Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County Master Gardeners, participants from the Bethlehem Children’s School, and members of the Town of Bethlehem community, including Town Supervisor David Van Luven.
Together, this group planted over 30 native shrubs and almost 100 native perennials.
A second phase, scheduled for some time in May or early June, will see installation of another 125 perennials.
The garden was designed by Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County Master Gardener Program Coordinator, Carole Henry, and Master Gardener Volunteer, Judith Fetterley. Plants have been chosen to be host plants and provide food for pollinators across three seasons, to offer four-season visual appeal to human visitors, and to require lower maintenance.
Funding has been provided by the Bethlehem Garden Club, the Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County Master Gardener Program, and the Town of Bethlehem.
Future plans include installation of a memorial bench from the Bethlehem Garden Club in honor of Virginia Acquario whose leadership and vision helped to create and maintain many community gardens including the previous garden at the Town Hall. The Bethlehem Children’s School will provide an informational kiosk on the site.
Ultimately, the current support group hopes to create a Friends of the Town Hall Gardens organization that will manage the development and maintenance of these gardens over time.