Nantucket is at an environmental inflection point: growth, development, and climate change are creating environmental challenges impacting the quality of life for everyone on this fragile island. Together we can make a positive difference, one garden at a time. What we plant in our gardens impacts wildlife, our water, and our ability to be more resilient to rising sea levels.
The Nantucket Garden Club and Nantucket Land Council are partnering to recognize gardens throughout the community that reflect best practices to encourage biodiversity, reduce the impact on our waters, and withstand the ravages of increasingly severe weather conditions. This program to give out Conservation Commendations was developed early this year and announced at the 2022 Nantucket Daffodil Festival.
At last week’s annual August Meeting of the Nantucket Garden Club, four properties were recognized and given the special Commendations: a lawn in Quaise that was traditional turf replanted with grass that uses very little water and attracts pollinators; a traditional turf lawn at a home near Hummock Pond that was turned into a pollinator garden using no herbicides or pesticides so the drainage into the pond remains clear of those pollutants; a private home on Medouie Creek where the owners turned traditional turf into a wildflower meadow; and The Conservation Foundation was recognized for the pollinator gardens they created to use for education.
Each of the four who earned Conservation Commendations were presented with a metal medallion designed by island artist M.J. Levy Dickson which they can display on their properties.
“We’re excited about its first season, and we look forward to offering recognition to individuals and organizations,” commented Nantucket Garden Club President Christine Dean. “And we are working with Land Council to give out information about the options available. The Land Council has been a true partner and will continue to be so…our missions are very similar. We want to protect our fragile island as much as possible.”
For details on how you can receive a Conservation Commendation for your efforts by creating a pollinator habitat, planting a climate-resilient garden, or establishing an environmentally friendly lawn, go to NantucketGardenClub.org.
There are three categories in which to earn commendation:
Pollinator Garden: Birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects are attracted to specific varieties of plants. You can create a pollinator habitat in a single garden or split among multiple areas of your yard. The garden must consist of plant material beneficial to pollinators, a majority of which are native to Nantucket. Garden must remain free of pesticides and chemicals.
Turf: New or conversion from traditional lawn. Traditional lawns consume vast amounts of water resources and require ongoing fertilization that is detrimental to ponds, the harbors, and the island’s water supply. There are more resilient varieties of turf grass that do not require irrigation or the use of fertilizers. To qualify for this commendation, a minimum of 200 square feet of lawn must be planted with low-maintenance species, a majority of which are native to Nantucket.
Resilient Landscapes and Rain Gardens: Climate-resilient landscapes and rain gardens are appropriate adjacent to a beach, dune, coastal bank, body of water, or within an area prone to flooding. Plant material should include lowmaintenance species, a majority of which are native to Nantucket. Plant material should be hardy, strong-rooted perennials or grasses able to tolerate both wet and dry conditions.
The Nantucket Garden Club website has a list of links that will lead anyone wishing to participate in the effort to various resources that can assist in planning and execution of your design. They suggest Bartlett’s Farm, Surfing Hydrangea Nursery, Arrowhead Nursery, and Moors End Farm as local sources for seeds and plants.
To be considered for a Conservation Commendation, fill out the form at NantucketGardenClub. org. Applications are being accepted now for 2023 commendations. They will be reviewed next year from spring through early summer by the Garden Club Horticulture Chairperson, the Awards Chairperson, and a member of the NGC Conservation Committee and by Lucy Leske and Emily Molden of the Nantucket Land Council. The commendations will be announced at the annual August meeting of the Nantucket Garden Club.
“I can see this program taking off,” commented Dean, “it really is about education and providing options.”