Tag Archives: Garden Club of Irvington

A New Native Plant Garden at Greenburgh Nature Center

Planted in one intense day in early June, the Native Plant Garden for Pollinators at Greenburgh Nature Center is already in bloom and thriving. It’s a gorgeous tribute to the Garden Club member who inspired it, Gerrie Shapiro.

 

400 plants native to our region, purchased with contributions to the Gerrie Shapiro Memorial Fund, were staged in Cathy Ludden’s driveway prior to planting at Greenburgh Nature Center.

A Garden Imagined — and Planted

 

The garden was imagined, planned, sketched, and planted by Cathy Ludden, GCI’s conservation chair from 2012–2016 and the Garden Club of America’s 2021 Zone III (New York) Civic Improvement Award winner. She’s perhaps better known as a longtime Greenburgh Nature Center (GNC) board member and its immediate past president. Since retiring from corporate law, Cathy has devoted herself to conservation matters, especially the benefits of native plants to the environment. She began the project last year by planting a small pollinator garden and GNC as part of the Town of Greenburgh’s Pollinator Pathway project. This June, GCI co-president Anne Myers worked with her to significantly enlarge it to frame the woodland path leading to the existing Native Plant Meadow.

Made possible through the generosity of friends and family in memory of Geraldine “Gerrie” Shapiro, the new Native Plant Garden encompasses more than 800 square feet at the sloping woodland edge of the Great Lawn near GNC’s honeybee hives. Working with landscape designer Bill Boyce and colleague Guy Pardee, Cathy created a path to circle the beds so that the garden’s native grasses and perennials—which provide nectar and pollen for pollinators including bees and hummingbirds—can be viewed up-close and from various vantage points.

It was “all hands on deck” to get more than 400 plants—which had been collected and staged in Cathy’s driveway—in the ground and to keep the beds weeded and watered. Although the planting was completed in one hot, intense day, maintenance is ongoing by volunteers including GCI members and GNC staff and interns. Educational signage about the importance of pollinators, native plants and native bees will soon be added.

On a hot Friday in early June, Cathy Ludden (left) planted the 800-sq-ft garden with the assistance of garden guru Abel Racinos; Jim Blann, current GNC board president; and Anne Myers, GCI co-president.

 

The design was laid out with a curved path to allow viewing from many vantage points.

 

By mid-June, the plants were established and thriving.

Why Natives?

Cathy’s passion is educating and encouraging homeowners to plant natives instead of non-natives in their gardens. She speaks and writes about how native perennials, shrubs, trees and grasses can offer blooms early in the season and add dramatic fall color to the landscape. And, more importantly, that they offer specific, valuable benefits: they provide nutritious fruits for birds and other wildlife; contribute to biodiversity; flourish without pesticides; offer food and protection for wildlife; support beneficial insects that help control garden pests; contribute to clean air and water; and deter soil erosion. Most natives, when established, are drought and deer resistant.

The garden’s plant list includes nearly 50 species including the familiar flowering perennials baptisia, coreopsis, dicentra, echinacea, monarda, penstemon and rudbeckia—plus others that should become better known, like Waldsteinia fragarioides  and Zizia aurea.

By mid-July, the garden was in bloom, its tall native grasses surrounding flowering perennials including coreopsis and penstemon. (Photo by Dori Ruff)

Inspiration of Gerrie Shapiro

Geraldine “Gerrie” Shapiro 1932–2020

A woman of varied talents and interests, Gerrie served in many positions in GCI and actively volunteered her time and expertise to protecting and improving the quality of Westchester’s natural environment. After earning her certificate in landscape design from the New York Botanical Garden, she established an Irvington-based consulting business and designed public and private gardens in the area and served on conservation and gardening-related boards.

Planting native plants, supporting pollinators, educating the public and beautifying public parks are all activities consistent with Gerrie’s passions and of the values of the Garden Club of Irvington. Thus, GCI established the Gerrie Shapiro Memorial Fund in support the creation of this garden, dedicated to her memory. Many who knew and loved her gave their support to the project. Remembering Gerrie with this garden and honoring her devotion to nature and to beneficial gardens are fitting tributes.

Come and See

Earlier this week, Cathy Ludden led a tour for GCI members, who were delighted and impressed not only by the plants themselves, but by the droves of insects and butterflies who were buzzing happily through the air and alighting on the flowers.

Although the blooming season is at its height, the beauty and life of the Native Plant Garden for Pollinators will continue through the fall. We invite everyone to explore, discover, and connect with native plants and their pollinators over several visits to GNC. Attached is a PDF of Cathy Ludden’s “Plant This” booklet, The Beauty and Benefits of Native Plants,” which you can view or download via this link and which we hope will inspire you to plant natives in your garden.

Garden Club of Irvington members found the tour inspiring. We hope you will, too. (Photo by Ellen Shapiro)

 

Swarms of butterflies are busily pollinating GNC’s Native Plant Garden. (Photo by Renee Shamosh)

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Greenburgh Nature Center is located at 99 Dromore Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583, just off Central Avenue, north of Ashford Avenue.

Filed under Conservation, Garden History and Design, Horticulture

A Winter Visit to the Wildflower Meadow

Cathy LuddenThere’s a new Native Wildflower Meadow at the Greenburgh Nature Center.

The meadow project, conceived and spearheaded by GCI member Cathy Ludden, left, president of the Nature Center’s board of directors, was designed by Bill Boyce of Biosphere Landscape Architecture and installed on a reclaimed two-acre patch that was once part of an apple orchard. In recent decades, Ludden explained during a recent tour for GCI members and guests, the area was neglected and overrun with invasive plants.

The meadow incorporates several remaining apple trees and existing stands of bayberry and sumac. New plantings include perennial beds with flowering native plants and grasses selected to provide year-around interest. The beds are bordered by mulched paths that showcase newly planted native trees and shrubs. There’s also an outdoor classroom area with seating made of granite slabs found on-site, an oak tree circle, and beehives.

GardenClub

Cathy Ludden leads GCI members and guests through the outdoor classroom at the Wildflower Meadow.

grasses

A stand of switch grass, Panicum virgatum, a perennial warm-season bunchgrass native to North America.

Meadow

A stand of sumac and ashy sunflower (Helianthus mollis).

The surrounding area has been seeded with native grasses and flowers to create a naturalistic meadow that will develop and change with time, always providing food and shelter for insects, butterflies, birds, turtles and small mammals. An arbor made of red cedar is being constructed as a centerpiece for the meadow, and it will be used as a structure to house the Nature Center’s annual summer butterfly exhibit.

Milkweed

A milkweed beetle on a milkweed seed pod. American milkweeds are an important nectar source for native bees, wasps and other insects, and a major food source for monarch butterflies.

A leader in environmental education since 1975, the 33-acre Greenburgh Nature Center, located off Central Avenue in Scarsdale, also features a woodland preserve with hiking trails, an organic garden, a green roof exhibit, a discovery playground for children, and more than 100 live animals. The Center is open from dawn to dusk all year round. Che their website for specifics, current exhibitions, and news.

Filed under Conservation, Rivertowns Westchester NY