Barbara Thomas, a landscape gardener for the town, assesses a winterberry tree in the bed of her pickup before planting it at Wolfe Park Thursday morning.

Wolfe’s Den’s garden is for the birds … and butterflies


Girl Scout Troop 34001 planted a pink flowering dogwood outside the fence of the Wolfe’s Den Playground at Wolfe Park in April. Barbara Thomas, a landscape gardener with the Parks and Recreation Department, says it is part of an overall plan to attract birds and monarch butterflies for children to enjoy.

On Thursday morning she planted three winterberry (ilex verticillate) trees behind the dogwood — two female plants and one male.

The male tree will grow tiny flowers producing pollen that will enable the female trees to grow flowers and red berries that birds love to eat in the fall and winter, according to Thomas.

She also plans to plant milkweed, which will attract monarch butterflies.

“I’ll probably plant blueberries and hopefully a couple chokecherries,” Thomas said. “They have white flowers in the spring and red berries that are also great for birds.”

She said chokecherries are a host plant for moths and caterpillars, who eat some leaves, lay their eggs and become butterflies. In the spring, she said caterpillars are good food for birds to bring to their young.

“It’s important to have a good mix of things,” she said of a garden.

When she planted the first winterberry tree Thursday, Thomas cut the plastic pot off the plant to protect the roots while taking it out. After using a shovel to dig the hole and plant it, she moved her hands in the soil around it.

“You make a well around it, so the water mostly stays in that area and goes down instead of running off,” she explained. “It’s a good technique for trees and shrubs — pretty much everything to start.”

Thomas walked to her pickup truck nearby, climbed into the bed and opened a valve for a 100 gallon water tank. Using a hose attachment, she filled a flowerpot to water the tree.

The water pooled around the base of the plant and Thomas waited for it to seep into the ground, before covering it over with topsoil.

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