1. Give Thanks
South Garden Progress
After a summer that oscillated between drought and flood, hot and cold, crisp autumn days brought relief to runners and walkers on the Boulevard path. Those rounding the south end come upon the secluded garden that anchors the 1.6-mile park. If people see a woman weeding or planting and say, as some do, “Thanks for doing this,” they are rewarded with the warm smile of volunteer Peggy Edwards.
Peggy is one of the volunteers who work on Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) projects for no pay and little glory, but for fun. Don Cordner, Pam Lietar, and Cynthia Bertozzi have all pitched in in recent years to tend the Boulevard gardens, and Swan Point staff has come to the rescue at the Trolley Shelter garden several times. Peggy is the first gardener in some time who has been dedicated to the South Garden.
Since Peggy assumed the care of the South Garden in 2015, extensive weed cover has gradually disappeared and bushes and flowers have flourished as never before. A trained horticulturist focused on public gardens, Peggy was horticulturist of Cincinnati Parks and Recreation for several years and later assistant horticulturist at Blithewold for a time.
Now settled in Rhode Island since 2008, Peggy prefers being identified simply as “Gardener.” She fits the care of the South garden in with her private garden work. When clients and friends offer plants, she accepts the native species preferred by the Conservancy–Joe Pye and Ironweed, Echinacea and Bee Balm among others–and tucks them into the Boulevard garden. Next year she plans to install labels to help passersby identify what they are seeing.
The 30-foot yellow-taped section of the Boulevard Path at Upton that you may have noticed is test paving being tried out by the Conservancy and the Parks Department in the search for a more porous material. The hope is that, in addition to allowing some water to be absorbed, it will feel good beneath the feet of walkers and runners. By December, the stabilizer used to hold the stone dust will probably have set, and this section can be used again.
The Blackstone Parks Conservancy and the Parks Department are trying out a new and sustainable porous material in a 30-foot stretch of the Boulevard path by Upton Avenue. How does it feel underfoot? Please let us know.
Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) volunteers are accustomed to projects taking time, years even. Long desired improvements to the parks may not be feasible for want of either time or money–or both. So it was with three Blackstone Park Conservation District projects this fall: a stair railing, two kiosks, and a fence.
Then, suddenly, these projects came together. The first to materialize was the hand railing beside the old wooden steps leading up from York Pond into the woodland. It is now in place thanks to Carrie Drake and her park committee and Jim Rocchio and his Parks Department crew.
A railing may not seem like much. To the many people who couldn’t use those stairs before and can now enjoy them, however, it makes a difference.
Two Kiosks built by the Tuesday Club, woodworking volunteers who collaborate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), were marooned in South County for nearly a year for want of a truck. If a truck and driver could be found, who could unload them in Blackstone Park? They weigh over 200 pounds. And then, who would install them properly?
Recently USFWS Visitor Services Manager/Outreach Coordinator Janis Nepshinsky found a volunteer to deliver the kiosks to the BPC. Next, Fence Tech, the company that happened to be building a BPC fence on Angell Street that day offered to unload and install them. For all the people who wonder what the Blackstone Park Conservation District is–who it belongs to and who manages it—signs on the kiosks, of which there are now seven, hold the answers.
A new $3450 fence now graces the habitat planting on Angell Street thanks to the Conservancy’s first crowd-funding campaign and BPC members. For several years the exceptionally dedicated volunteer gardeners led by Mary Dennis and Anna Browder have waited for the BPC to upgrade their bamboo fence. We appreciate their patience.
Another Kind of Teamwork– The annual International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by Save the Bay yielded considerable trash in Blackstone Park by the Seekonk River. BPC Vice-President Carrie Drake guided McMahon Associate volunteers, who turned up some unusual debris.