It wasn’t so long ago that the verdant garden at Linwood and Athens in Ardmore was a parking lot. Just a few years ago it was asphalt black top with a small border of turf and yew hedges. Pretty devoid of any kind of flora and fauna.
Then, magically, we got our wish to turn a parking lot into a park! Today, the diversity of plants at Linwood Park supports an abundance of wildlife – bees, butterflies, bugs of all kinds, rabbits, squirrels, a fox at times, a wild turkey passed through (!), birds overhead and in the trees and on the ground, and people.
Over the past two years and a few months, the transformation from moonscape to lushscape hasn’t been easy, but it’s been fun and rewarding. Volunteers have paid for, donated, planted, and cared for hundreds of flowers, trees, and shrubs. We have dug up old parts of the parking lot, old stones from the house that was there until the 1950s, glass bottles from long ago, such as Stoever’s Broad Street Station Pharmacy, and clay. Lots and lots of clay.
The soil at the Park was so bad because it was compacted for years by the parking lot and a house before that. When the Park was built the soil wasn’t amended or added to very well, so we got to plant in rocks and asphalt and clay and glass. The first Spring we planted there in 2010, there was no life in the soil that I could see. None. Not even a grub or an ant or a worm. And if you don’t have a grub or an ant or a worm, you don’t have little birds, and if you don’t have little birds you don’t have hawks or foxes, and so on and so on…
So, we added compost and plants and leaves and made the soil a happy place for life. This year you can’t go a foot without coming across some kind of life. Now, it is our job to quantify that the best we can. In retrospect, I wish we had baseline data from two years ago, but this will serve as our baseline for years to come.
This Saturday, September 15th, the Friends of Linwood Park and the Lower Merion Conservancy will co-sponsor a BioBlitz at Linwood. That means we will be counting critters and plant life the best we can. How many birds fly overhead? What are they? What birds come into the Park? What plants are they attracted to? What types of butterflies and moths will we see? What is that rabbit eating and is it the same rabbit we just saw?
By finding out what lives in our Park, we can find out if we are planting and maintaining plants that support beneficial wildlife. Do we need different plants to attract a greater diversity of wildlife? Is all ok with the world of Linwood or could we do more to make it a healthier place for all living things? The data we collect on Saturday will help guide us.
Once again, we need help. We need counters and identifiers. People with binoculars. People with an interest in what animals live in our neighborhood. Kids are encouraged, as we will need them to continue our work and their kids to continue their work for generations to come. Everyone is welcome and no experience is required but bring a bird or bug or plant book if you have one!
Here is the schedule – an all day event! – but come for whatever you can or for whatever interests you.
- 8 a.m. – Bird walk
- 10 a.m. – Insect hunt
- 1 p.m. - Flora count
- 6:30 p.m. – Mammal prowl
It will also give you a chance to meet the new Conservation Coordinator for the Lower Merion Conservancy, Patrick Gardner, and pick his brain for a while. We’re all in this together.
See you in the Park!