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Bringing Beauty (and Wildlife!) to Bullitt

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Hilltown Tree and Garden Bringing Back Beauty in Bullit

When the restoration of the Bullitt farmhouse was complete, the grounds around the house were a blank canvas, calling out for some plantings to complement the clean lines of the house.

We wanted to extend the spirit of the low-energy, low-maintenance approach of the efficient farmhouse building to the gardens, while also creating food sources for the many birds and butterflies on the property. Of course, we wanted it to look nice, too! We turned to Jim McSweeny, of Hilltown Tree and Garden, for some professional advice.

With Jim’s guidance, we planted three stately elm trees that were cultivated to resist Dutch Elm disease. Planted on the south side of the house, the elms will provide shade in the summer, but allow the sun to warm the building during the winter. The top of our new stone retaining wall was filled with a row of lowbush blueberries that will offer bountiful berries to the birds, and some lovely red foliage in the fall. We also created a big bed of perennial plants anchored by three crabapple trees and more berry producers such as chokeberry, elderberry, and high-bush blueberry. Other perennials such as joe pye weed, bee balm, asters, and foxglove are providing lots of beautiful flowers and attracting tons of butterflies. Since all these plants are native to this region, they’ll need little watering and no fertilizer.

In trying to cut down on the amount of gas, time, and effort that goes into mowing the lawn, we also carved out an area around the farmhouse where we decided to let the lawn “go wild” and see what happens. Now we’ve got a field of red and white clover and wildflowers that looks quite lovely – and is filled with butterflies. By mowing around the edge of our new meadow, we’re providing a little bit of structure and showing that we’re letting it grow intentionally.

The Bullitt gardens will be the backdrop for our monthly Gardener’s Exchange, an opportunity to learn new tidbits from local garden experts, pose your questions to the group, and share your gardening tips and strategies. On June 21, Mollie Babize will be speaking about how to use your annual vegetable and perennial gardens to benefit wildlife as well as to provide food, beauty, and diversity to your yard. What plants work best where? What do I need to do to attract butterflies and bees? Why are native pollinators so important? Come out to Bullitt at 6PM on the 21st to hear the answers to these questions and more and to share your responses.

Published June 2012

Reprinted with permission of The Trustees of Reservations. All rights reserved.

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