• 11 Mar 2024 8:29 PM | Marilyn Salvas (Administrator)

    Thank you so much to our very own Melinda Dennis for delivering a wonderful presentation about her experience with creating a pollinator garden in the turf grass bump out in front of her house.

    You can view the recording of the Pollinator Garden Presentation 

    (Passcode : 2#LSuKf8)

    And you can view the slides that were presented here: PowerPoint Presentation
  • 25 Feb 2024 3:03 PM | Linda Relson (Administrator)

    As many environmentally-minded folks like you know, invasive species are a massive threat to the biodiversity of our ecological systems. In 2023, as part of its mission to promote environmental stewardship, Watertown Community Gardens expanded its work to include combating invasive plant species threatening the local ecosystem. To date, our work has mainly focused on removing invasives on the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway. As community stewards, we invite you to help us to expand our efforts in 2024! 

    Volunteers removing Japanese knotweed

    Invasive species pose a significant threat to the balance in our ecosystems and have far-reaching consequences for biodiversity. These non-native plants and animals outcompete and displace native species, leading to a decline in biodiversity. Climate change has created conditions that favor the spread and establishment of invasive plant species. Likewise, the presence of invasive plants can further exacerbate the impacts of climate change. The pervasive nature of invasive species requires a proactive and concerted effort to prevent further ecological damage. 

    In 2023, WCG held eight volunteer work days to work specifically on invasive plant removal and management. We had many wonderful volunteers join us and thank them wholeheartedly for their efforts! We also had the amazing support of the DPW, who picked up all the invasive plants that we removed - thank you! 

    Initially, we mainly focused our efforts on addressing the massive, well-established stands of Japanese Knotweed. Knotweed is one of the most aggressive and hard-to-get-rid-of invasive plants. Our volunteers cut the knotweed stands back six times in 2023 - and we look forward to continuing this effort in 2024. During our volunteer work days, we also removed Black Swallow-wort, Bittersweet, Tree of Heaven, and garlic mustard.  You can find information about these plants on our Resources page about Invasive Species. Unfortunately, the Watertown-Greenway has an abundance of invasive species to choose from for our removal efforts! 

    Site with knotweed removed

    While it may take years to manage the well-established invasives on the Greenway, we have also started planting native plants and spreading seeds of native plants. These included milkweed, perennial sunflowers, purple coneflower, penstemon, goldenrod, and Joe Pye weed, just to name a few. Our hope is that we can start replacing the invasive plants with beautiful native plants that support our native flora and fauna. 

    We are just getting started in our invasive removal efforts and we are working on defining our plans for 2024. To get us ready for our work during the growing season, we will be holding a Greenway trash pick up on March 9, 2024 from 10am to 12pm (rain date March 16). Come help us make our community more beautiful!

    Make sure to sign up for the WCG newsletter and indicate you interest in volunteering to make sure you get future event announcements.

    And if you have a special interest in invasive plant work and would like to contribute to our planning and leading these efforts, please reach out to us at info@watertowngardens.org. We need all the help we can get!

     - Corey Barr       WCG Board, Watertown Pollinator Pathways

  • 7 Jan 2024 12:07 PM | Linda Relson (Administrator)

    Thank you to our city manager, George Proakis, for signing on for a second year of the Mayors' Monarch Pledge!  And we cannot forget our many friends at City Hall, including

    • Laurel Schwab, Senior Environmental Planner
    • Katie Swan, Environmental Planner/Conservation Agent
    • Bob DiRico, Parks/Cemetery Supervisor
    • Gideon Schreiber, Assistant Director of Planning
    Here are some of our favorite parts of the 2024 Action Item list!
    • Launch or maintain a public communication effort to encourage residents to plant monarch gardens at their homes or in their neighborhoods. (If you have community members who speak a language other than English, we encourage you to also communicate in that language; Champion Pledges must communicate in that language.)
    • Display educational signage at monarch gardens and pollinator habitat.
    • Launch, expand, or continue an invasive species removal program that will support the re-establishment of native habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinators.
    • Initiate or support community science (or citizen science) efforts that help monitor monarch migration and health.
    • Host or support a monarch neighborhood challenge to engage neighborhoods and homeowners' associations within the community to increase awareness, support community unity around a common mission, and/or create habitat for the monarch butterfly.
    • Plant milkweed and pollinator-friendly native nectar plants in medians and public rights-of-way.
    • Increase the percentage of native plants, shrubs and trees that must be used in city landscaping ordinances and encourage use of milkweed, where appropriate.
    View Watertown's Community Profile here

    View the report from 2023 here

  • 30 Jul 2023 9:44 PM | Linda Relson (Administrator)

    Happy summer!

    The Boylston Street bump out gardens are thriving with the regular rain and are full of pollinators. On a rainy day, some of the only pollinators to brave the weather are bumblebees - the fuzzy teddy bear bees. When it’s warm and sunny, you’ll see much more variety, including honeybees, metallic green sweat bees, clouded sulfur butterflies, and more.

    There are many types of flowers blooming right now:

    • Orange butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) - host plant for Monarch butterflies; look for black, white, and yellow striped caterpillars eating the leaves.  August is a great time to look for caterpillars, especially in the morning and evenings.
    • Purple coneflower (Echinacea) - in the winter, the dried seed heads will become bird food

    • Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) - attracts a variety of pollinators, including specialist bees, bumble bees, hummingbirds, and moths.
    • Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) - butterflies are especially attracted to black-eyed Susans and other coneflowers because the flowers provide a platform where the butterflies can land.
    • Anise hyssop (Agastache) - rub the leaves, they smell like licorice, and the towers of light purple flowers are a favorite of a variet of bees

    • Blue vervain (Verbena hastata) - these tiny purple flowers are nectar-rich and attract a myriad of pollinators, including butterflies, skippers, long and short-tongued bees and others.
    • Oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) - as the name suggests, this is hydrangea shrub has leaves which resemble those of oak trees, complementing cone-shaped flower clusters

    • Daylilies - there are several varieties blooming right now - red, orange, yellow! Do you think they look like fireworks?

    The gray goldenrod will begin to bloom in a few weeks. Its flowers are yellow like most goldenrods; the name refers to the gray-colored stems. Goldenrods are important food sources for pollinators out in late summer and fall.

    Volunteers will be at the bump outs on September 28 from 5 until 6:30pm doing fall maintenance after flowers have bloomed, before winter sets in. If you’re interested in joining us, please sign up for the calendar event, and join the volunteering Google Group!

  • 22 Jul 2023 3:46 PM | Linda Relson (Administrator)

    On Saturday, 7/22/23, we had a crew of 9 people removing invasive plant species on the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway.  This was our second time cutting down the large patches of Japanese knotweed on the stretch near Arlington Street.  Everyone had a great time, and are eager to do more of this work.  We anticipate having another event in 2 to 4 weeks.

    Black swallow-wort is another invasive that has been blooming for a couple weeks and now has its distinctive seed pods.  It's really important to get these plants and seed pods in trash bags before they open up and spread further into green areas and fence lines (this is a common place to see it).

    In June, we worked together with the city's Conservation Agent, Katie Swan to put together this informational document about BSW.  Check it out!  Now is a great time to learn how to identify and remove this plant.

    Knotweed is being cut and left in-place to decompose because it has not yet flowered and set seed.  The BSW already has flowers and seed pods, so must be disposed of in trash bags.  Thanks to the Watertown DPW for picking them up.

    We have also created a Google Groups for these volunteering activities, Watertown Pollinator Volunteers  Please consider joining the list, or sharing it with people you know.

    This will be a years-long effort to get rid of and replace these tough invasive plants with native plants.  We will be back out there in the next month to get rid of as much knotweed and black swallow-wort as we can to prevent its further spread.  Over time, we will also be planting vigorous native plants to compete against the invasive plants.

    I've added photos from the event to this public photo album: Pollinator Pathways - Invasive Species Removal.

  • 29 Mar 2023 9:41 AM | Judy Fallows (Administrator)

    Thanks to George Proakis for signing the Mayor's Monarch Pledge! taking action to help save the monarch butterfly, an iconic species whose eastern populations have declined by 90% and western populations by 99% in recent years. Watertown is committing to create habitat for the monarch butterfly and pollinators, and to educate residents about how they can make a difference at home and in their community. We join George in helping to create habitat for butterflies and other pollinators and educating residents about the importance of planting and maintaining these habitats around in public gardens around Watertown

  • 12 Mar 2023 12:09 PM | Marilyn Salvas (Administrator)

    Please join us on Wednesday, March 29th at 7pm at the Friends of Bees monthly Zoom meeting for a presentation on transforming your bump-out or planting strip (between sidewalk and street) into a pollinator garden. Melinda Dennis, a Watertown resident and member of Friends of Bees and Watertown Community Gardens (WCG), will share her beginner’s experience planting a 200 square foot bump-out with perennial flowers for attracting pollinators. 

    Ellen Menounos, a Watertown resident and Environmental Planner for the city of Newton, will join us to offer her expertise in native perennials. The Watertown Department of Public Works encourages these plantings and offers useful guidelines to follow, which will be highlighted during the talk. 

    This webinar is part of WCG’s mission to encourage gardening in Watertown with native plants to support our local biodiversity, including bees, birds, and other pollinators.  Planting with native plants also improves our soil, air, health, and our area’s natural beauty.

    Date: March 29th 7- 8:30pm


  • 6 Mar 2023 8:48 PM | Marilyn Salvas (Administrator)

    Are you interested to learn more about gardening to support pollinators in Watertown?  

    Do you want to get your hands dirty, even if you don’t have a yard of your own?  

    Would you like to support wild birds, butterflies, bees, the Charles River watershed, or build climate change resilience?

    Volunteers with Watertown Community Gardens invite you to join our gardeners this spring as we maintain several public pollinator gardens throughout the city.  WCG’s community connections committee has partnered with the Department of Public Works and a local pollinator awareness group, Friends of Bees, to install several native plant gardens throughout the city since 2021.

    We are seeking volunteers from the community to help us do seasonal maintenance while learning hands-on about ecological landscaping practices and the biodiversity they support.  No gardening experience is required!  

    Detailed instructions will be emailed to volunteers, so registration is required.  

    Please click this link to sign up:    Events

    • Sunday April 23, 1-3pm: DPW Garden & Knowles Delta Garden Maintenance

    • Thursday May 4 Wednesday May 3, 4-6pm: Senior Center Garden Maintenance

    • Thursday May 18, 4-6pm: Boylston St Bump Outs Garden Maintenance

    • Sunday May 21, 1-3pm: Filippello Park Garden Maintenance & Plant Swap

    And if you are interested in planning future gardening or educational events, consider joining us at our upcoming committee meetings on Zoom:

    • Thursday March 16, 7-8:30pm

    • Thursday April 27, 7-8:30pm

    • Thursday June 1, 7-8:30pm

  • 15 Jan 2023 7:29 PM | Judy Fallows (Administrator)

    here's a photo of our plantings at Knowles Delta in January 2023, many of the new plantings are becoming established already and the "creeping phlox" is coming back now that it's been weeded

Watertown Community Gardens is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

P.O. Box 1041, Watertown, MA 02471


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