FTFC Model Native Garden

MNG 7-23-13-18

The Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy’s Model Native Garden is an educational project designed to showcase this area’s rich biodiversity with plantings native to Fort Thomas and the surrounding area.  The project was conceived in 2009 during the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy’s (FTFC) first year and implemented in 2010 on city-owned land in Tower Park surrounding the Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum.  With cooperation from The City, the Conservancy charted four areas for environmental rehabilitation:  Phase I lies directly across from the museum; Phase II stretches along the north side of the access road to the museum; Phase III is a wooded area behind the museum and Phase IV is the wooded area extending Phase I bounded by the access road and the tennis courts.  All of these areas were severely infested by the Amur Honeysuckle and other invasive species and cluttered with debris.

Our goal was to create a garden of native plants around the Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum in Tower Park to showcase the natural heritage of Northern Kentucky, to educate the public about the diversity and beauty of native plants, and to encourage homeowners to landscape with native plants.  The Model Native Garden will help city and regional residents learn about native plants and we hope provide ideas for incorporating native plants in their landscaping.  As an educational tool the garden will help stimulate the community’s awareness and appreciation of the natural resources in our area and it will add to the beauty of Tower Park, which is the largest park in Ft. Thomas

Our first focus was the area directly across from the museum, or Phase I.  We made this the main site of our educational garden, because it includes both sun and shade areas, has a small wetland, and is attractively framed by a series of old stone walls.  After clearing the area of debris and invasive species, we removed the remaining non-native trees and prepared the ground for planting.  Tests indicated the soil had to be amended, so in June 2010, using funds from a grant, the Conservancy ordered two truckloads of topsoil.  Volunteers worked the new soil into the existing soil.  That fall, a group of 12 volunteers planted over 150 native plants from 58 species and then spread a truckload of mulch around the plants.

During 2011, we expanded the planting area to land above the walls where we planted 78 native shrubs.  These would provide a natural barrier to the garden below and offer interesting color and texture as viewed on the approach to the museum and from the main road.  Our volunteers planted witch hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana), Shrubby St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Prolificum), Gro-Low Sumac (rhus aromatic), Climbing Wild Rose (Rose Setigera), Coralberry (Symphoricarpos Orbiculatus) and Arrow-wood (Viburnum Dentatum) shrubs and then distributed a large dump truck load of mulch around the shrubs.

Images of the Garden in bloom.

  We have a list of native plants in the Model Native Garden, identified by common and scientific names, here.

The photos below shot just a few of the many folks who have worked on the garden from time to time

The city has been generous in its support in hauling and other tasks over the  years.  We have had several grants of funding that have made big impacts on the project.  These include grants from the Campbell County Cooperative Extension Service from its “Color in our Communities” program, from the Campbell County Conservation District, as well as a generous gift from Carolyn and Michael Cook and contributions from our members.