Great Things are Happening at Wawapek!

Wawapek is alive with the sights and sounds of summer! The trees are in full leaf, the pollinator gardens are a buzz and the blueberry patch is heavy with fruit. As we enter a new season at this much-loved preserve, we’d like to give you some quick updates about exciting things to come.

Mowbray Lane Entrance

If you’ve visited Wawapek this season, you may have noticed a much-improved entrance. A new split rail fence was installed along Mowbray Lane (which was dotted with beautiful daffodils earlier this spring). With the help of funding from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and a generous neighbor, we installed pollinator gardens on both sides of the driveway, along with new native red cedars and white pines.

Habitat Restoration Area

If you’re a regular visitor to the preserve, you’ve witnessed years of rapid invasive species growth along the right side of the driveway. Last fall, with the help of a local contractor, we used a forestry mulcher to remove porcelain berry, multiflora rose and other bad actors in this 10,000 square foot area. That made way for new native plants! This summer, with the help of funding from the NYSCPP, those invasive species will be replaced by beautiful native shrubs and trees such as red maples, dogwoods, rhododendrons, witch hazel and white pines.

Vine Removal

Along the woodland trail, we have started a periwinkle removal project with our volunteers. Vinca major is a rapidly spreading trailing vine that has spread throughout much of the woodland, outcompeting our native plants. The next time you’re out hiking at Wawapek and you come across a tarp in the woodland understory, you will see our volunteers’ invasive species management at work. Pulled plants are placed inside a black tarp to solarize (cook in the sun). Since our volunteer days over the past weeks, the native Canada Mayflower has begun growing quite abundantly in the areas previously invaded by Vinca, going to show just how crucial pulling weeds can be.

We have also removed invasive vines (like porcelain berry and bittersweet) along the hedge row in the formal lawn. Thanks to the tireless work of dedicated volunteers, we have unveiled blooming star magnolia trees, a cluster of which had been invaded by vines over many years. The trees are still recovering, but their branches are no longer burdened by the weight of the heavy invasive vines. We are excited to watch these trees recover in the seasons and years to come.

We plan to continue removing as many weeds as we can with the help of our volunteers, Friends Academy students and our summer O’Neil Stewards.

Ralf Lange Garden

Thanks to a generous donation from Pat Peterson and her friends in honor of her long-time partner Ralf Lange, we have installed a gathering area and native gardens in the once neglected greenhouse complex. The first garden, located within the low brick foundation of the former greenhouse, has been transformed. It now is a gathering area with a teak picnic table and benches surrounded by sweet bay magnolia trees. The adjacent garden area is filled with native shrubs such as witch hazel, sweet pepperbush and mountain laurel. Old cold frames have now been planted as pollinator gardens, with hyssop, sensitive fern, butterfly milkweed, black eyed Susan’s, purple coneflower and mountain mints.

We hope you will visit soon and watch these exciting new projects grow. If you are interested in seeing what’s happening at Wawapek, come visit the beautiful property (located off Mowbray Lane) and its woodland trails from 7AM-5PM every day of the week.

If you have any questions or wish to get involved, please contact Meghan Leverock at 516-922-1028 or [email protected].