Native Plant Garden Dedicated at Lower Saucon Trailhead

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Native Plant Garden

A native plant garden that will attract Monarch butterflies to feast on the flowers of the common milkweed was dedicated in Lower Saucon Township Saturday. Volunteers working under the guidance of master gardeners from the Penn State Cooperative Extension developed the roadside oasis. Other plants represented in it include bee balm and evening primrose.

Just like their human counterparts are, Monarch butterflies and other beneficial species will soon be drawn to a popular trailhead on the Saucon Rail Trail in Lower Saucon Township. They won’t be there to bicycle or jog, but they will be thankful for the efforts of those who do, some of whom recently created a native plant garden along Reading Drive.

The garden at the Reading Drive trailhead just off Bingen Road was dedicated with a brief ceremony Saturday, after which attendees were given a tour of the roadside oasis by master gardener Maryann Snyder, who was instrumental in developing and planting it.

Native plants are plants that thrived in this part of North America prior to the earliest colonial settlements 350 to 400 years ago, Snyder explained.

Bee balm is a native plant found in the new garden at the Reading Drive Trailhead.

Plants like common milkweed, bee balm and evening primrose are an important part of our ecosystem because of their symbiotic relationship with insects, who pollinate them in exchange for sustenance, she told attendees.

“We garden as if life depends on it,” Snyder added, “and it really does.”

In recognition for her efforts developing the garden, Snyder was presented with a plaque by members of the Saucon Rail Trail Oversight Commission, Pete Jarrett and chairman Eric Bartosz, of Upper Saucon Township.

The rail trail is a seven-mile scenic path from Hellertown borough in the north through Lower Saucon Township and Upper Saucon Township to Coopersburg borough in the south. At its southern terminus the trail connects with the Upper Bucks Rail Trail in Springfield Township, which opened in November 2020.

Well-maintained and popular among local residents and visitors alike, the Reading Drive Trailhead is now also home to a bicycle repair station, Bartosz pointed out.

Signs that commemorate the former locations of railroad stations along the path–which is built on a SEPTA right of way–have also been erected, with one located near to the trailhead on the site of the former Bingen train station.

Jarrett noted that Snyder has been involved with the 11-year-old rail trail for at least eight years, because it was in 2014 that the commission contacted the Penn State Cooperative Extension’s master gardener program for information about conducting a plant inventory.

Snyder was also presented with a check the commission members said will continue funding the important work of maintaining the special plants that help make the trail such a special place.

Native Plant Garden

Master gardener Maryann Snyder is presented with a plaque by Pete Jarrett and Eric Bartosz of the Saucon Rail Trail Oversight Commission. The framed memento was given in recognition of Snyder’s efforts to help create a native plant garden along the trail, which was dedicated Saturday.

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