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Help Needed at the Bioswales

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 14:46
Kris Liem

Ever wonder about the long ribbon of pink and white hibiscus blooming at the entrance to the village in late summer, or the flower-filled meadow between Accabonac Road and Methodist Lane?

 These are working rain gardens that slow, capture, and filter rainwater and road runoff as the water makes its way through the Hook Pond watershed and eventually into the ocean. They are successful examples of a natural solution to a water pollution problem.

 The local Ocean Friendly Gardens committee, a program of the national Surfrider Foundation, welcomes volunteers to help it maintain the bioswales on Methodist Lane and James Lane. Help is needed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Thursday starting May 23 at the Methodist Lane bioswale, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Sunday starting May 26 at the James Lane bioswale. Later in the season, sessions may start earlier in the day because of hot weather. There are no rain dates.

 Planted on the village green in 2017 and off Methodist Lane in 2021 by the Surfrider Foundation, the bioswales together cover approximately three acres of formerly boggy grass with frequent standing water. Today, instead of standing water, there are blooms, butterflies, and bees.

 Rain gardens are touted as being low maintenance, but it does take work. The bioswales are maintained with the donation of crew time by their designer, Tony Piazza of Piazza Horticultural, and by much needed volunteers, without whom the gardens could not thrive. In return, volunteers learn about native wetland plants, pollinator plants, and the Surfriders Ocean Friendly Gardens program. As a thank-you, volunteers will receive hibiscus seeds and verbena seeds (take your own container to put them in).

 These are public gardens, designed to be not only practical but also beautiful and enjoyed by anyone who cares to stop and take a closer look. For a more immersive look, there will be a tour announced later in the season when the gardens are in peak bloom. Interested volunteers or curious onlookers can email [email protected] for more information.

 — Kris Liem, East Hampton committee chair, Surfrider Ocean Friendly Gardens

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