They call themselves Pioneers on the Pollinator Pathway. Cub Scouts of Pack 17 and their family members — 60 in all — assembled at Hillside Cemetery Sunday afternoon, April 23, to undertake the first planting project of the pathway envisioned as a ribbon of pollinator-friendly plants running north to south through town.
“This is a great opportunity to pay back the community and help the Wilton environment flourish,” Cubmaster Ryan Thompson told his young charges before they fanned out in three teams.
Tigers, who as first graders are the youngest of the pack, planted milkweed seeds — essential to monarch butterflies — in an adjacent field. Over the course of a half-hour, they counted 14 bees, 18 butterflies, and nine birds. They will return to count again in September to note any changes after the plants have had a chance to grow. The boys also planted grass seed in some bare patches.
The Wolves, who are in second grade, planted four sites with helianthus, echinacea, and asters.
The main pollinator garden required quite a bit of muscle as the Bears and Webelos — in third and fourth grade — with the help of parents and siblings dug away a large circle of grass, spread topsoil, and then planted hydrangea, dwarf butterfly bush, catmint, perennial geranium, and asters. Many of the 42 plants contributed by the pack came from the garden of husband and wife Stacey Sapper and Mark Wiltamuth, service chair for the pack and leader of Den 3.
Pam Brown, executive administrator of the cemetery for Wilton Congregational Church, said she has been wanting to put in a wildflower garden for several years. With the pack planning to maintain and add to the garden each year, she said, “To partner with them will be wonderful.”
“The garden looks great and we can’t wait to see it in action this summer,” Wiltamuth said.
Both Wiltamuth and Thompson said the pack will build on this service project, with the older boys building bluebird boxes — for their Bluebird Mile — and bee houses for non-stinging pollinator bees next year. The younger boys will plant daffodils.
For their work on Sunday, the boys were rewarded with popsicles.
Pack 17 hosts a variety of activities for boys and their families. Their next meeting will be on Sunday, May 7, from 3:30 to 5:30 at Allen’s Meadow, where they will explore the art of flight with kites, launching water bottles and Estes rockets and learning how to fly drones. Any family with a boy going into first through fifth grade next fall is welcome to join them.
First of a series
This garden is just the first in a series of activities to promote the Pollinator Pathway and encourage residents to jump on with their yards, big or small. The pathway is intended to benefit the local environment by creating a means for bees, butterflies, moths, and birds to expand their populations and ranges through town. It is sponsored by the Wilton Land Conservation Trust, Woodcock Nature Center, Norwalk River Watershed Association, Wilton Garden Club, and Wilton Go Green.
The next event is a workday on Sunday, April 30, to eradicate invasive plants along the Norwalk River Valley Trail and replant with native species. Volunteers will gather from 9:30 to 12:30 at Sharp Hill and Autumn Ridge roads. There is a parking lot near the intersection.
Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, shovels and spades, if possible, since limited supplies will be available. More information and registration are available at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-NRWA-INFO (877-679-2463).
For information on the Pollinator Pathway, visit facebook.com/WiltonPollinatorPathway.