HYANNIS – Mini meadows bursting with cool greens, vibrant reds and yellows, muted browns, soft pinks and purples, all buzzing with bees and butterflies grace the sidewalks of Main Street in downtown Hyannis.
This spring, the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District distributed more than 140 planters, in addition to creating a number of small gardens, comprised of various pollinating plants native to Cape Cod, along a one-mile stretch of Yarmouth Street near Cape Cod Hospital. West End Rotary as part of the Cape Cod Pollinator Pathways initiative.
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The project was led by Elizabeth Wurfbain, director of the Hyannis Business Improvement District, and Mary Myrick, who handles social media for the district.
Wurfbain said the goal is “to create a more environmentally friendly way to beautify an urban environment.”
However, it is about much more than just planting beautiful flowers.
“It’s all about the birds and the bees,” Wurfbain said, and how they, along with native pollinating plants, support and enhance the overall environment.
The project was funded by the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District with money paid by property owners along Main Street, who pay a quarterly fee to the district, Wurfbain said.
Planters and gardens established along Main Street
The entire project, including the 140 planters, several gardens along the trail and maintenance, cost about $15,000.
The idea was born last year at the annual Hydrangea Festival in Orleans.
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Wurfbain and Myrick toured the garden of Gary Bowden, a master gardener who is an active member of the Orleans Improvement Association, Master Gardeners of Cape Cod and the Nauset Garden Club.
Bowden said the two women attended a talk he gave about pollinator pathways and the importance of integrating native pollinators into their native environment.
“It’s the cycle of life. We need plants for insects and birds to eat, and we need insects to pollinate plants,” he said. “It’s a natural way to preserve the environment.”
In addition, the native plants used in the Pollinator Pathways project require very little water, and even less fertilizer, and they bloom at different times in the spring and summer so that plant life continues throughout the seasons.
Making Monarch butterflies welcome
Another benefit is for Monarch butterflies, whose populations have been reported nationally as in dramatic decline, Bowden said.
One of the native plants used in the Pollination Pathways project is common milkweed, the main food source for the Monarch butterfly.
“So we’re bringing back the Monarch butterfly,” Bowden said.
Wurfbain and Myrick said they were so impressed with Bowden’s presentation that they wanted to replicate his efforts in Hyannis.
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They enlisted the services of CL Fornari, who described herself as a “garden groupie” and hosts a weekly radio program on WXTK radio called “Garden Line,” and has written eight books about gardening, some specifically about gardening on Cape Cod. .
Fornari, also known as the “Cape Cod Garden Lady,” advised Wurfbain and Myrick on which native plants to use that would “support the natural wildlife in the area” and that would “look good before and after they bloom.” , she said. .
Hyannis Main Street selected 10 plants to use in its Pollinator Pathways containers. They include, by their common names, white star, butterfly weed, mountain mint, stringy ironweed (also known as Iron Butterfly), purple coneflower, fireweed, rocks goldenrod, sweet potato vine and two types of zinnia.
So the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District purchased plants from Country Gardens and went to work.
Pollination trails are increasing across the Cape
Planting began in late May and the plants reached their peak by mid-July in time for the Hydrangea Festival, and Hyannis was able to do a number of garden tours, Wurfbain said.
A number of master gardeners participated and word is spreading fast about creating more pollination trails.
Bowden said last year the Pollinator Trails initiative started in five Cape Cod towns: Orleans, Chatham, Harwich, Brewster and Dennis.
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“We now have organizations from Bourne, Hyannis, Barnstable, West Dennis, Wellfleet and Sandwich,” he said. “Now we get from Bourne to Wellfleet.”
Additionally, anyone interested can start a Pollinating Pathways garden in their backyard and register on the organization’s website.
“We’re trying to get the public to appreciate this and get them to sign up on our website. We started with less than 10 and now have over 100 registered gardens,” said Bowden.
And this has created an actual Pollination Route along Cape Cod.
Wurfbain and Myrick have been very happy with the results in Hyannis, and so has the community.
Public reactions have been positive
Marty Bruemmel, president and CEO of the Greater Hyannis Chamber of Commerce said he’s gotten a lot of feedback from tourists about how Main Street looks and how the plants have really improved everything.
“It’s nice to see people caring about the community,” he said.
“People see us working on the planters and have something nice to say about them. It does something for the morale of the community,” Wurfbain said. “Every time we go out on the street, people tell us something about it — ‘the flowers are so beautiful, they look so beautiful, great job.'”
And humming among the plants and crawling on the ground is serving an even greater purpose.
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