Little Gardens Go Native in Neperan Park

"Let’s Go Native!" That’s the theme of the new garden at the entrance of Neperan Park. On June 1, members of the Little Gardens of Tarrytown planted a wide variety of native plants after receiving grant funds from the National Garden Clubs, Inc.


Jennie Lyons, Kathie Lisi, Monique Kozlowski, Maribeth Bischof, Nancy Hayes, Carolyn Swenson, Theresa Napolitano

The grant funds were provided by The Principal Financial Group through their 2007 – 2009 Civic Development Grant Program. Club members and Tarrytown residents Carolyn Swenson and Maribeth Bischof applied for the grant and coordinated the funding and installation.

The idea of planting a native garden in the space began during a meeting in 2007 where Barbara Fischer, from Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Westchester County, spoke to the members about native plants. When the opportunity for grant funds appeared in the form of a brochure, Ms. Bischof remembered the park and thought it would be a great opportunity to add to the identity of the area. The park is directly across the street from the Historical Society and lent itself to some plantings. "It’s green; it overlooks the Hudson and it’s in Tarrytown’s rich Historical District," says Ms. Bischof.

The grant criteria included matching funds that were supplied by the Village of Tarrytown and the club. In addition, contributions to the garden were made by The Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns, Karl Dibble and his staff at River Rock Supply Corp. & Mountain View Scapes in Sleepy Hollow, Robert Welsch of Westover Landscape Design, Beverley Jansen, and Norma Herguth. "This garden has real potential to become an important educational site, as well as being a beautiful place to enjoy open space," noted Ms. Swenson.

Over one dozen club members were on hand to plant the native plants that included Coral Bells, Joe Pye Weed, Coneflowers, Chokeberry, Mountain Laurel, and a Butterfly Magnolia. The plants were chosen for their color, texture, berries and bark to provide interest throughout the year. "Native plants are usually more suited to local hot humid summers and require less maintenance and watering," according to Ms. Swenson. She added, "They are less interesting to deer and help restore the natural food and nectar sources for butterflies, hummingbirds and the ecological web of the area." The plants were purchased from Native Landscaping, Inc. in Pawling. "If people visiting Neperan Park feel welcomed, wonder about these plants, and learn from this project, then we as a garden club have succeeded," said Ms. Bischof.

Ms. Bischof added, "Tarrytown is an historical and innovative place where people pull together," as evidenced by the volunteers and help from Tarrytown officials. In particular, Joe Arduino, Recreation Supervisor, and his staff prepared the beds for planting. Scott Weaver, General Foreman and his staff agreed to help with watering until the plants are established. Scott W. Brown, Police Chief and his officers kept a watchful eye on the plants that were delivered to the park ahead of planting, and Joan Malone from the Treasurer’s Office helped with the financial transactions. "It was really great to see how different groups pulled together to make this project happen," remarked Ms. Swenson.

Club President, Kathie Lisi said, "We must give recognition to two of our club members, Carolyn Swenson and Maribeth Bischof, for their vision of this garden and diligent efforts, from grant application to completion of planting, to see this project become a reality."

The club has celebrated 80 years of active involvement in the Tarrytown Community and currently has over 30 members. Best known for establishing and maintaining the garden at the Tarrytown train station, the club provides annual holiday wreaths for Village offices in the community and sponsors a bi-annual garden tour. Anyone interested in helping to further the development of the native garden or learn more about the activities of the club, please contact the club at

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About the Author: Jennie Lyons