[New Canaanite intern Natalie Lopez is a senior on the women’s lacrosse team at Northwestern University in the Medill School of Journalism. She is a 2020 New Canaan High School graduate.]
Sustainability advocates this week gathered at one of the nation’s oldest bird sanctuaries—located off of Route 106 in New Canaan—to dedicate a pollinator garden to the memory of a longtime resident and conservationist.
On Tuesday afternoon, one dozen members of organizations that include Planet New Canaan and the Conservation Commission met at Bristow Park to honor Cam Hutchins. A 1977 New Canaan High School graduate, Hutchins was a former Conservation Commission chair. The “Cam Hutchins Pollinator Garden” is located near the Old
Stamford Road entrance to the 17-acre green space.
“We still have a little more work,” Robin Bates-Mason, president of Planet New Canaan, told NewCanaanite.com as members of several organizations gathered around the newly planted educational garden on a cold and cloudy afternoon.
She was joined by representatives from the other local organizations that form the New Canaan Pollinator Pathway Group—in addition to Planet New Canaan and the Conservation Commission, the New Canaan Department of Public Works, New Canaan Land Trust, New Canaan Nature Center, New Canaan Garden Club, New Canaan Library, New Canaan Beautification League, Grace Farms and Friends of Bristow.
The park, which is accessible by 106 as well as Mead Park, is part of New Canaan’s “Green Link,” a pedestrian-friendly route throughout the town that connects open space via sidewalks. The “pollinator pathway” in New Canaan includes many of those open spaces, with plants that support bees, birds, butterflies and other insects.
Led by Hutchins’s successor chair on the Conservation Commission, Chris Schipper, the town’s effort to restore Bristow in the past several years has included pond dredging, removal of invasives, addition of a new pavilion and new fencing.
Currently, the garden is roped off from the main trail and features spicebush, oakleaf hydrangeas, cardinal flowers, snakeroot, bee balms, foam flowers, wild blue phlox, creeping dogwoods, creeping sedge, American holly and buttonbush.
Once completed, visitors will be able to stroll through the garden, read plaques that contain information on each plant and enjoy the company of hummingbirds drawn to the site by the Cardinal and Monarda flowers planted on the outskirts of the plot.
The project has benefited from a matching grant from Sustainable CT, and the Pollinator Pathway Group rapidly surpassed its fundraising goal. Funds have gone to aid in the clearing of the southern entrance to the park and future maintenance of the garden.
Hutchins passed away in July of 2021. The New Canaan Pollinator Pathway Group decided last year that he should be honored.
“I knew Cam through the Conversation Commission,” Bates-Mason said. “He was a big supporter of Planet New Canaan.”
She added, “It was nice that it actually happened.”
The Cam Hutchins Pollinator Garden will be in full bloom for the first time next year, as the town marks the centennial of Bristow Park.