Native Species Landscaping Will Complete Wilson Mill Project

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

At the Conservation Commission meeting on the evening of April 10, Adrienne St. John of the DPW presented a draft of landscaping plans that will complete the restoration of the Wilson Mill Dam in time for the dedication ceremony in honor of the late Selectman Gordon Feltman on Saturday, May 18 at 2pm.

To conceptualize the proposal, St. John said that within the site there are six distinct landscaping areas. Because of the terrain, each area has been handled differently, although all will feature native species plantings exclusively.

“The dam itself is essentially complete,” St. John reported. “Between Elizabeth [Bagdonas, Conservation administrator] and the Wilson Mill Planning Committee, we worked over the winter to procure companies to do the [landscaping] design and the planting. Last week at Town Meeting, the funds were appropriated to fund the project. The firm that’s been chosen is New England Environmental, out of Amherst, Massachusetts. They worked with guidelines put together by Elizabeth and Dorothy [Africa, a member of the Wilson Mill Committee] of plant species that would be appropriate to different components of the site.”

St. John identified the six distinct areas: 1) below the Route 62 retaining wall; 2) the steep slope; 3) an open viewing area near a recently placed bench; 4) the canoe launching site; and 5 and 6) two areas bounded by the old stone walls. The plantings included in the proposal are sugar maples, red cedars, pepperbush, American filbert, inkberry, early azaleas, high bush cranberries, ferns, native roses, native grasses and wildflowers. Bagdonas noted that the plantings were chosen based on appearance, to attract wildlife, to create a safety barrier, and because they require relatively low maintenance. All the plants were selected from a pre-approved list provided by the Conservation office.

“We are very pleased that [New England Environmental] has given us this draft plan and they are able to procure the plantings and get them in the ground at the optimum time of year [when] they will need a limited amount of watering,” St. John said.

The Wilson Planning Committee itself intends to take on the planting of a seventh area within the site. St. John said, years ago, the Committee hired a noted horticulturalist—Frances Clark—who conducted a plant inventory on the mill site.  “Some of those old plants that are now gone, they would like to re-introduce,” St. John added.

After hearing the planting and landscaping plan, the Conservation Commission gave permission

for the project to proceed, with the understanding that if anything changes, the Commission will be asked to provide another ruling.

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