PRINCETON, NJ, August, 2018 -
For Princeton Recreation Team Member Vikki Caines, a lifelong love of gardening
began, rather intrinsically, from her family roots in Trinidad & Tobago.
Now, as a 20-year employee of the Recreation Department, a 34-year resident of
Princeton, and a Master Gardener, Vikki is patiently creating thriving flower
beds around the Princeton Recreation facilities, one plot at a time. Vikki's
work has done so much to not only beautify the town, but also provide crucial
pollination habitats for bees and butterflies.
development of Marchand Meadows, named in honor of former Township Mayor
Phyllis Marchand and located next to the Recreation Department offices, as well
as the beds in front of the Princeton Recreation Department office, flower pots
within Community Park Pool Pool, and plantings in the pool parking lot. Each of
these areas were planted, and are still maintained by Vikki and her dedicated
crew. "I live here and work here and just wanted to do something
meaningful for my town," says Vikki.
without the use of pesticides, these flower beds are vital for numerous
butterflies, including the Monarch butterfly. Beset by disturbing population
declines, the Monarch is known for its bright orange and black pattern as well
as its massive migration -- over 2,000 miles from Canada to Mexico in late
summer and early fall. Along the way, some of these delicate creatures will
stop in New Jersey, and pollination stations like the ones Vikki has designed
provide crucial nectar for the weary travelers.
Princeton's Mayor, Liz Lempert, continues to support the National Wildlife
Federation's Mayors' Monarch Pledge. Through the pledge, communities within the
US each commit to develop habitat for the monarch and other pollinators, while educating
citizens on how they can do this within their yards. "The monarch is truly
a treasure from the natural world,” stated Mayor Lempert. "Princeton
benefits from these beautiful pollinators, and it’s important that we do our
part to ensure we are providing habitat necessary for their survival.”
Indeed, there is a
surprising amount of activity within Princeton supporting this species. The
Greater Mountain Lakes Open Space Area, including Tusculum Meadows, contains
approximately 10 acres of milkweed, the host plant for monarch caterpillars.
More recently, Greenway Meadows Park has also added about two acres of monarch
habitat, with continued plans to expand. In addition, volunteers collaborating
with Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) and the Contemporary Garden Club of Princeton collect
milkweed seeds from the municipal garden and spread them throughout the
community, including Mountain Lakes, the Princeton Day School and the Riverside
Elementary School gardens.
each of Princeton's four elementary schools, 2nd grade students study insect
life cycles, and explore how monarchs and milkweed work together with other
plants and bugs in the larger ecosystem. Every school has one or more
pollinator beds from which to expand these lessons, and some classes have gone
so far as to tag monarch butterflies for a citizen science research project.
Finally, the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) works annually to update
progress on the pledge and drafted Princeton's Green Development Checklist
which suggests the use of native species like milkweed "to provide
food/shelter for birds, animals and insects."
milkweed and other native seedlings, the public is invited to visit D & R
Greenway’s Native Plant Nursery at One Preservation Place in Princeton.
Upcoming plant sales are held from 3:00 - 5:00 pm on the following Fridays:
August 3, 17 and 24. This fall, D&R Greenway will also host additional
plant sales on Friday, October 12, 3 – 6:00 pm and Saturday, October 13, 9 am –
“By bringing such
beautiful plants in your yard," encourages Mayor Lempert, “you too can
help ensure this unique butterfly can be enjoyed by generations to come."
more information, please contact:
Ludmer, Member of the Princeton Environmental Commission
Caines poses by a towering joe pye weed, a native pollinator species, in front of the Recreation Department offices.