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Garden Tour

Collinsville Pollen Trail


22 Allen Place, Canton, CT, USA

3 through 22 Allen Place from Dyer Ave to Maple Ave. Adjacent to Farmington River Rail Trail. Park in dirt parking lot at 6 Dyer Ave. Do not interfere with construction at rear of property beyond the cones



The Collinsville Pollen Trail (CPT) is an ongoing habitat restoration project. Knotweed to Native. In addition to co-managers Karen Berger and Holly Hambleton, our project partners include the Town of Canton DPW, Master Gardeners and interns from the UConn Master Gardener program and local neighbors.

Our goal is to replace invasive plants with a diverse selection of native plants for both pollinators and birds. The entire parcel that we have access to is 8.8 acres with the .3 mile CPT corridor encompassing a mowed stretch of turf/crab grass on either side of the paved Farmington River Rail trail. This stretch has been the primary focus of our restoration and planting efforts. In addition, a steep bank drops down to a wetland of skunk cabbage that drains into Rattlesnake Brook. A mixed hardwood forest flanks the brook with the remnants of two small dams. Knotweed, bittersweet, barberry, honeysuckle; multiflora rose and other invasive plants are prevalent. There is also an assortment of native shrubs - spicebush, winterberry, dogwoods and witch hazel in addition to mature oak, white pine, yellow birch and red maple trees.

In the spring of 2017, the project began with the removal of a hedge of Japanese knotweed at 3 Allen Place, Collinsville. In the spring of 2019, an Eversource vegetative management program removed 60+ mature trees along their power line right of way in the same vicinity. Eversource then donated and planted 30 native shrubs and small trees in the fall of 2019 and volunteers established beds for native plants. The planting began as a cooperative effort between neighbors and volunteer Master Gardeners and interns from the program.
In 2020, 200 additional native plants and 30 additional shrubs were donated and added to the site. Volunteers worked 700 hours watering and maintaining the new gardens while continuing to remove invasive plants. Four new beds were created in 2021 to expand diversity and relocate native plants from a construction site.

In 2022, we continued to battle the knotweed from early May until late September and were also successful in adding to our repertoire of native plants. We also began a series of Tuesday Tours for anyone interested in learning more about what we were doing and how our native plantings benefit both the birds and the bees (and the bunnies, deer and occasional bear). We also addressed some common misconceptions. All of those buzzing bees and insects are not out to sting unless they are threatened. Hummingbirds actually use flowers for nectar and not just sugar-water feeders. While poison ivy and poison sumac are hated by humans, their berries are an important food source for birds. In addition, many so called weeds feed the birds in the early spring and again late into the fall in the form of dried seed heads and hollow stems that harbor over-wintering insects.

In 2023 we continue to remove invasive plants and replace with native species. We are mentoring a new class of Master Gardener interns and have enlisted Canton High School students to help with chores that count toward their service hour requirements. And we continue to answer questions from passerbys.

Looking back, we discovered what people want to know and what we want them to learn from their walk along the Collinsville Pollen Trail:

A. People want to know what the showiest plants are.
B. They want information about butterflies.
C. They are interested in what shrubs and trees they can plant to attract birds.
D. They are looking for low maintenance alternatives to grass lawns.
E. They want to know how to deal with invasive plants. (And are disappointed to learn that it takes a lot of hard work and persistence but it is possible to at least keep then in check).
F. People are surprised to find out that some of our favorite flowers and bushes in the Northeast are not native but naturalized. (Such as lilacs, forsythia, tulips, daffodils and field daisies). Along with European food crops and lawn grasses, many were brought over with the first colonists and immigrants between 1600 and 1900) and while they support some insect and bird species, they are poor providers compared to our native species (winterberry, high bush and low bush blueberry, serviceberry, goldenrod, rudbeckia and asters)
G. They are surprised to find out that some common weeds that we eradicate (like dandelions) can be both beneficial and beautiful.
H. And lastly, they often want to know how they can help out.

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