Binney Native Plant Garden 



The Binney Park Master Plan (the source of this planting plan) calls for the very large area just north of the tennis courts to be devoted to deciduous shrubs and flowering perennials. The plan calls for several large, healthy, flowering trees to be cut down from this area, and these trees are currently marked for removal - so the plan is moving forward.

This is a mistake that will blemish the park for the foreseeable future.

  • The area is huge. It's a quarter acre (about 13,000 square feet). Just to put that in perspective: GCOG takes care of a butterfly garden at the point that is less than 1000 square feet (about 7% the size of this proposed garden), and two or three members go down and tend it once a week. This isn't an onerous job, but it needs to be done regularly: I suspect most non-gardeners would be surprised by the amount of attention it gets.

  • This planned garden would require a LOT of maintenance to keep it presentable. Most gardeners keep their own gardens looking good all season by careful plant choice, regular maintenance, and a lot of judiciously placed mulch. This requires dedication and money.

  • There is a myth that butterfly gardens are low maintenance, but by definition, pollinator plants self seed, which means they pop up all over over the place. Unfortunately, all sorts of undesirable plants self seed too, and keeping them straight takes a lot of knowledge and experience. I cannot overstate how complex this is - seedlings all look the same and it only takes a few weeks for invasives to become so established that removing them takes serious, consistent effort.

  • The town clearly cannot stretch its resources to take care of a garden at Binney Park. For example, “sustainable and low-maintenance” large grasses were planted to line the river by the bridge across from the Perrot Library. It fails to please. It was recently cut down, and it looks tidier, but bleak. Managing the plants will become more difficult as they continue to grow.
    Large planting areas are a lot of work: they always have been and they always will be. Anyone who actually gardens knows this.

  • It will be hard to recruit volunteers for this area. It will be daunting and confusing, and they will have no sense of ownership. There will be tons of debris and there is no obvious place to put it. It will not be at all pleasant to work there: there is no shade and there are no places to sit.

  • The view won't be pleasant. It is quite flat, and its lack of vertical elements will emphasize the tennis court’s chain link fence.

The huge, bedraggled grasses were cut down from the water’s edge near the Perrot last week. We have five months of this to look forward to.

The site for the ‘Native’ Garden. The flowering trees will be removed and the proposed planting is short, so the chain link fence will be much more visible.

The site for the ‘Native’ Garden. The flowering trees will be removed and the proposed planting is short, so the chain link fence will be much more visible.

I have listed many of the plants proposed for this garden here.


Removing the crabapples and installing this garden will create an eyesore that will be a maintenance nightmare. The existing crabapples LOOK FINE. A pollinator friendly garden in Binney Park would be wonderful, but please don’t treat it like a new toy that your bestie told you about: plan it out with the community who will see it and the people who will actually take care of it.