Cos Cob Firehouse Park Gets a Facelift

By Myra Klockenbrink

Greenwich Pollinator Pathway, Greenwich Botanical Center interns and volunteers partnered in habitat restoration at the Cos Cob Firehouse Park last week.

Brothers Brook winds through the park creating a unique inland park that is part of the estuary of Mill Pond across Route 1 to the south.

The Park was established by the Westchester Fairfield Horticultural Society in 2000, but disbanded soon after. As in many of our parks and open spaces, invasive species are a constant challenge. Some of the shrubs are overgrown and need replacement. Last year Greenwich Pollinator Pathway installed 58 native shrubs and cleared invasives with Firehouse staff helping with watering.

The estuary creates other difficulties.

“The salt from the tidal water can create difficult conditions for plants,” said Aleksandra Moch of the Conservation Commission. “Especially since the stream overflows its bounds in heavy rain.”

Volunteers were undaunted by these challenges and removed large swaths of Artemisia vulgaris, also known as “mugwort.” Mugwort returns year after year sprouting from long roots that can be difficult to completely extract from the soil.

To ensure the mugwort does not return, a deep mulch — known as sheet mulch — was applied to the area. The mulch will slowly degrade and feed the soil, while smothering any latent mugwort underneath. In the fall new native plants will be installed directly through the mulch and by next spring the area will be blooming with pollinator friendly plantings that can tolerate a bit of salt exposure.

The Park provides outdoor respite for patrons of the Cos Cob Library, families for Cos Cob School, and the greater Cos Cob community. A family of ducks and their ducklings have been visiting the park and rabbits and red-winged blackbirds enliven the landscape.

Two new trees, both oaks, have been planted on either side of the stream. Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the garden can contact VolunteersCosCobFirehousePark