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In 2022, the Garden Club of America launched the National Native Plant Month Initiative. "Native Plant Month" was declared in 2023 by Ned Lamont and other governors across America to promote using plants that naturally evolved in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without human introduction. This state-wide declaration is an important step in creating public awareness in the Stonington Borough of the critical role native plants play in supporting a healthy environment, thriving wildlife and pollinator populations, and reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers.

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Stonington Garden Club's Role

In support, the Stonington Garden Club has begun a Native Plant Project to provide the community with attractive and sustainable public gardens that serve as educational models for area visitors and residents. The club will redesign, expand, and replant two important public Gardens, the Rain Garden at Wayland’s Wharf and the Post Office Garden at the entrance of Stonington Village. This Native Plant Project is an “all-club” project with several more facets: a winter sowing project, a curriculum unit on the importance of Native plants for the COMO Children’s Learning Garden, and a presentation by the Conservation Committee to Stonington High School students in their Environmental Studies class. Additionally the Club has contributed plantings to other area gardens.

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Wayland's Wharf Rain Garden

In 2018, the Stonington Garden Club partnered with Stonington Borough, the Long Island Sound Study Group, and the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District (ECCD) to create a rain garden at Wayland's Wharf. The garden's purpose was to filter toxins from the stormwater runoff in the parking area before it flowed into Stonington Harbor. While the garden is currently doing its job, it is too small to serve the entire area. The native plants in the garden filter toxins from the water collected in its bowl-shaped base, but gallons of toxin-infused stormwater still flow directly from the parking area into the harbor during and after rain and wind storms. To expand the garden's positive impact on this coastal location, there is a proposal to increase its size.

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Borough Post Office Garden

The Stonington Borough Post Office is a prominent landmark near the Village entrance. The federal land in front of Stonington Borough’s post office is the “gateway” to residents and visitors to this historic seaside town. Since 1964, our members have cared for these two small gardens, pulling out invasives, planting, weeding, watering, and mulching this space to enhance the beauty of the Borough. The gardens must be amended, redesigned, and replanted with attractive native plants that resist the negative elements of climate change.

Winter Sowing Seeds

Winter sowing is an ideal way to germinate native plants. Native seeds are acclimated to the local climate and sprout as days get longer and the weather warms up. The Stonington Garden Club created forty take-home kits for its members to plant seedlings, which will be planted in the gardens we care for this spring. Our club has found project support from the local Wild Ones, Inc. chapter which donated native plant seeds for our winter sowing project. Barbara Duncan, President of the North Stonington Garden Club, guided the project, and Pam Wright led the demonstration.

Progress

The gardening club is currently assessing the quality of the soil, environmental challenges, and other factors that may affect the growth of plants. To ensure they get the best possible results, they have sought the advice of experts from Connecticut and Rhode Island, including the resources from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and UConn's Connecticut Sea Grant College program. The club has also enlisted the support of Maggie Redfern, the Executive Director of Connecticut College Arboretum. Additionally, Vilma Gregoropolis, a professional landscaper, has been hired to provide guidance on garden design and plant selection.

Schedule

The Native Plant project has three goals which will be completed by June, 2026. The planned completion date coincides with the beginning of our upcoming Gardens by the Sea walking tour, our club’s primary fundraiser. This project also will coincide with the garden club’s centennial year (founded in 1926) and will be the club’s gift to the community. Our club has found project support from the local Wild Ones, Inc. chapter which donated native plant seeds for winter sowing. We have consulted resources from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and UConn’s Connecticut Sea Grant College program. We also receive support from Maggie Redfern, the Executive Director of the Connecticut College Arboretum. The club has hired the professional services of a landscaper, Vilma Gregoropoulos, who will consult on garden design and plant selection.

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Proud members of The Garden Club of America, Federated Garden Clubs of

Connecticut, Inc., National Garden Clubs, Inc., New England Garden Clubs, Inc.  

Copyright @ 2022  The Stonington Garden Club, Inc.

Stonington Garden Club   PO Box 385   Stonington, CT 06378

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