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Celebrating Natives Garden Tour – Needham, MA

Hosted by Marie Chieppo

In 2018, I wrote an article for the Ecological Landscape Alliance (December 16, 2018) about the mitigation of suburban deforestation. Thankfully this article caught the attention of Needham’s Superintendent of Parks and Forestry, who then contacted me about volunteering to design a native plant garden. The location is a park named after a relative of William Carter (Carter’s clothing), John Avery.

The new native garden in Needham heights.

Avery Square Park abuts a commuter rail station with lots of daily activity as people rush to the train or sit on the benches conversing with friends. Years earlier a local landscaper installed a few flower beds, which quickly became a bed of weeds and have been mowed down ever since. Over the winter of 2019, I designed new beds. Thanks to volunteers and help from the Parks staff in the spring we planted numerous varieties of native plant species. People now congregate to relax, take in the bright colors, watch the new activity of birds, butterflies, bees….you name it! I could not have dreamed up a better opportunity to educate people about the beauty and function of native plants. Thus began the Needham Community Native Plants Garden.

Trees run along the periphery of the park, including a large Blue Spruce, Amelanchier, and Planetrees. A Kousa dogwood that was donated last year is located in the center. There are a couple of areas with shade but the remainder of the park is in full sun.  

This spring, with the pandemic upon us, the Parks Department installed picnic tables to give the public an opportunity to sit amongst the flowers and enjoy one another’s company while maintaining social distance. We continue to add more plant material to enhance the gardens even further. Our latest addition Pycanthemum muticum (Mountain mint) is candy to our native pollinators. In the fall, I plan to enlarge the beds and add signage to identifying the plants and their ecological value. The park has more visitors than ever, which brings its own challenges and joys.

Agastache foeniculum and Rudbeckia fulgida are a great combination with both color and flower shape complementing each other.

One of the best parts of gardening is how it brings people together. Volunteers working to create a beautiful space together.

Spring arrives again. A new adventure awaits.

About the Host

Marie Chieppo is a Certified Massachusetts Master Gardener, Certified Garden Designer, Certified Native Plant Designer, and Horticulturist. She is a Principal at EcoPlantPlans, LLC where she has been creating beautiful and healthy landscapes for over 22 years.


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