The Riverside Landscape Advisory Commission has put out a call for volunteers – preferably a small army of volunteers – to begin replanting the low area of Swan Pond Park later this month.
Volunteers are being asked to help Riverside Public Works employees plug 10,000 plants into about 28,000 square feet of earth in an irregularly shaped area that fans west from the concrete drainage culvert constructed in the park as part of a regrading project in 2012.
Officials have picked July 15 as the date for the volunteer effort, which will be directed by public works employees. Anyone age 14 and over interested in volunteering is asked to email Maribeth Reimer at email@example.com. Planting will take place rain or shine, unless weather is severe.
It’s the first phase of what officials predict will be a multi-year effort to create a wetlands area in the park that’s home to native grasses and sedges along with a smattering of pollinators that will attract honeybees and monarch butterflies.
“The goal is to make it sustainable and maintainable,” said Cathy Maloney, chairwoman of the Landscape Advisory Commission, which has been working with the firm Living Habitats to formulate a planting plan for that area of the park, which was damaged by flooding during January and February of 2014.
The lowest area of the park, near the culvert, will feature plants that thrive in a wetlands setting. Riverside officials earmarked $27,000 in 2017 for the first phase of the replanting effort.
The planting area likely will be enlarged in future years with a goal of inviting people to wander through the park and enjoy the wetlands plantings.
“First we’ll let these plantings get established,” Maloney said. “I’d like to see how they come into maturity. If it’s working as planned, we can expand the planting area.”
Maloney said she’s not sure exactly how many of the 10,000 plugs will be planted on July 15, but guesses it’ll be tough to get all of them in. Whatever doesn’t get planted on that day will be planted by public works employees.
“We’re thinking within a week it should be done,” Maloney said.
Public works employees began preparing the site for the July 15 planting last month. Village Forester Michael Collins did some scraping/regrading of the area to smooth it out somewhat and make it mowable.
In mid-June he sprayed an herbicide to eliminate a host of invasive species that had popped up since 2013, including a sea of cattails, thistle and other invasives. A crew of seasonal workers used hand tools to cut down the cattails and prepare the area for a second round of spraying in early July in advance of the July 15 planting date.
“We wanted to get control of the site before reincorporating plants,” said Collins.
Last fall, the planting plan looked like it was going to shy away from flowering plants in favor of grasses and sedges. However, that has changed somewhat.
Of the 10,000 plants going in later this month, about 1,600 will be flowering “pollinators” that will attract bees and butterflies, including sweet flag, swamp milkweed, tall white aster, blazing star and purple meadow rue. The colors of those flowers are muted.
“The view from the top bank is a long view,” Maloney said, “so we’re trying not to put in the foreground a bunch of colorful plants that will stop your eye.”