Thom Smith | Nature Watch: A pollinator's paradise thrives at Kimball Farms

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Today, Jim McCarthy called me and said, "I'm coming to pick you up, I have something to show you." We drove down to our meadow and, lo and behold, we have a meadow in bloom with cosmos, poppies, yellow and red snapdragons, flax, sunflowers, zinnias. A cloud of taller white flowers bathed the whole length. Dragonflies were busy, and butterflies were fluttering over. I could have danced and shouted with delight. Our dream is a reality. There is more to be done, but with faith and hard work we'll succeed. Ron Kujawski has visited and is most enthusiastic.

— Gwen Sears, Lenox

The "meadow in bloom" referred to above is along the road off Walker Street in Lenox, leading to the Kimball Farms retirement community housing. The people mentioned include Gwen Sears, retired deacon of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield and one of the residents wanting to develop a bird-friendly habitat that would attract not only birds, like hummingbirds, but also other pollinaters, like butterflies and bees, while being a colorful place of beauty for both residents and visitors.

Ron Kujawski, Master Gardener who shares this page in The Berkshire Eagle during the growing season with me is a most welcome and knowledgeable adviser for the senior gardeners. A founding father of the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association, Ron and his daughter, Jennifer Kujawski, are authors of the bestselling "Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook" published by Storey Publishers. Residents Jim McCarthy, also a Master Gardener, and Heidi Stormer, with an artistic background, helped design the natural attraction. Jim accompanied us on my first visit last summer and continues skillfully altering the strip of well-kept lawn and returning it to a more natural setting. Heidi, who upon seeing a gentleman in a white straw hat standing on the picnic table adjacent to the garden, came over to see what I was doing. I gladly explained that my longtime friend, Gwen Sears, was anxious for me to see how well the garden is growing this summer, so I dropped by to take a few photographs.

Without the help of Kimball Farms' grounds keepers (worth a story of their own), this achievement would never have taken place or continue to flourish. This returning to nature, a swath of well-kept lawn, has not been an easy chore for these gentlemen who were able to keep busy before this proposal.

While driving by the field of flowers, if you see two visitors taking photographs and searching the sky for birds, stop and say hello. They won't answer I suspect, being creations of one of my favorite artists, the skillful Michael Melle of Middlefield, who is responsible for many different hay people, descendants of the scarecrows of olden days, throughout the area.

The next phase is to begin introducing more native plant species to accommodate certain species in need, like a couple species of milkweed for monarch butterflies (there are already some common milkweed plants) and jewelweed for late migrating hummingbirds. Berries and perhaps a dogwood and a mulberry for the birds should be added.

Overheard: "So glad you started this. You should have years ago."

— Roland Ginzel, (A 95-year-young artist.)

Thom Smith welcomes readers' questions and comments. Email him at Naturewatch@live.com or write him care of The Berkshire Eagle, 75 S. Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.


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