Natives Knoll Project

By Sherry McDonald

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? In this case a ‘plan and a planting’.

Sally Berman knee deep in the knoll

In September 2019 the FMN Communications team gave a shout out to FMN membership that South Run Recreational Center wished to improve the health and heartiness of a barren, unattractive knoll on the center’s grounds. I became a ‘first-responder’ to that call and I am excited to report that shovels, hoes, and rakes are in full swing and the patient is recovering nicely.

I worked on this project with both Sally Berman, Lead Landscaping Volunteer and Joseph (Kurt) Lauer, Volunteer Coordinator for the Park Authority at South Run and we became fast friends. Sally mentioned to me it was as much an education as it was fun for her. The project demonstrated to Sally the benefits of native plantings and I was able to exposit how emergent processes are created between native insects and birds and animals and even the soil, that are not as viable when incorporating non-natives only.

Natives Knoll in Work

The goals of the project were to transform a weedy, unsightly knoll into an attractive landscape and stabilize the soil to prevent erosion using native plants.With guidance from Matt Bright who runs the non-profit Earth Sangha (which grows native plants for our area) a plan was developed and South Run RECenter purchased more than 90 native plants for this project.  Even with the uncertainty of consistent help due to COVID-19 restrictions, volunteers (high school students, church family and friends) have been working to create the “Natives Knoll”, the whole time following social distancing guidelines. 

Sherry McDonald

As the project nears completion I reflect on how therapeutic gardening has always been for me and how it is a haleness that Sally shares as well. The hope is that when the park re-opens people will stop by to view this emerging Natives Knoll and increase their awareness to the benefits of native plant-scapes. Future steps and goals are to incorporate plant signage and potentially qualify the project as a certified Audubon at Home wildlife sanctuary. As the knoll attracts birds, pollinators and human benefactors, perhaps some of the latter will be inspired to join our landscaping team to share in the knoll’s continued growth.

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