Bagaduce Music Lending Library board members wrapped up their July 28 board meeting by getting dirty. Members planted gray dogwood trees on the lending library’s new South Street campus, which is being landscaped by a group devoted to native plants aptly named Native Plants of Blue Hill. In the front row (from left) are Meredith Amado, Barbara Kourajian, Karen Dickes and board President Ellie Horwitz. In the back row (from left) are Martina Herries, the library’s executive director, Stephen Lindsay, Scott Cleveland, Cheryl Abbott, Debra Reinke, Janet Schlesinger, David Gautschi and Dede Johnson. PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

New horticulture group has ambitious plans

BLUE HILL — A new organization is transforming the landscape at the new South Street home of Bagaduce Music Lending Library.

The mission of the two-year-old Native Gardens of Blue Hill is “to create public gardens of Maine native plants.”

“Our simple goal is to change horticulture in the state of Maine,” said Avy Claire, one of the group’s founders. Cathy Rees and Pam Johnson are the other founders.

Claire said that native Maine plants are important because they are “genetically connected to the environment and evolutionarily connected to wildlife.”

The plants, shrubs and trees the group is planting at the lending library and other sites provide food for insects and birds.

If a certain plant goes away, maybe whatever fauna that plant fed goes away too, Claire said.

The group was looking for a public space to create a principal garden at the same time the lending library was beginning the process of relocating from a much smaller campus on Greene’s Hill.

“We had a plan for the property but not the landscaping,” said the lending library’s Executive Director Martina Herries. “She [Claire] came up with plan for landscaping and the board voted to accept.”

“We don’t have the money for the landscaping, so this is perfect,” Herries said. “We are so lucky to have this collaboration with them. We seem to work well together and hopefully for the greater good of the community.”

Since the lending library already has nonprofit status, the library is acting as an “umbrella organization” for the gardens, Herries said. The lending library accepts tax-deductible donations for those who want to help the garden project.

Eventually, there will be walking paths on the property, which Herries said would be open during the day for the public.

Recently, lending library board members helped plant gray dogwoods along the driveway.

The campus has a variety of issues from wet areas to dry, gravelly spots. Those issues are opportunities for the gardeners who want to teach people what is possible when native Maine plants are employed, Claire said.

“Build a garden slowly, incrementally, let the plant do most of the work,” Claire said.

The group is also composting to make its own soil.

“Every time you bring in new soil you’re bringing in new weeds,” Claire explained. Also, bringing in new soil could mean accidentally bringing in invasive plants. “Who knows, we could inadvertently bring in bittersweet.”

One issue is ensuring that local gardeners can purchase native plants. The group held a native plant sale in June.

“The nursery trade hasn’t historically had that many native plants available, so people have had a tradition of using non-natives instead because those are what’s available,” Rees said.

The group also has created a small native garden at Mainescape Garden Center, with the blessing of owners Don and Althea Paine. The Paines also have made space to sell Maine native plants.

Many people like to choose plants to attract butterflies.

Rees said the best native plant to attract butterflies is swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnate).

“It’s native and unlike the common milkweed it doesn’t spread,” Rees said. “It stays in a tidy clump and looks great. It’s a wonderful habitat for butterflies, specifically monarchs.”

If you’re into looks, swamp milkweed produces showy, pink flowers.

For more information about what native plants to put in your garden, Native Gardens has an exhaustive list on its website. See Information about how to donate or volunteer is also on the website.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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