The EAC is excited to report that there are two ecologically significant areas of Peppermint Park, in addition to which, during the summer of 2015, the EAC team and park volunteers, helped plant natives into a rain garden. The EAC is very grateful to Mark Brownlee, owner of Archewild a nationally renowned native plant nursery, for his help in designing the rain garden and identifying and restoring the meadow fragment and ridgetop community. Peppermint Park is a registered Bird Habitat within PA Audubon’s Bird Town program.
A rain garden is a more natural alternative to a storm water basin, sometimes referred to as green infrastructure. It is intended to showcase a collection of the best moist-to-wet soil plant species indigenous to Bucks County including Alnus serrulata, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Rosa palustris, Aronia melanocarpa, Sambucus canadensis, Salix sericea, the edible Apios americana (groundnut), and several representative wetland flower species. The plant collection is meant to inspire homeowners to explore the beauty of our common and uncommon native plant species by planting them on their own properties.
Meadow Plant Community
The meadow fragment surrounded by the paved walking path at the park is a unique and special habitat which will be protected by Springfield Township and their EAC at the new Peppermint Park is an excellent example of an original plant community within the Reading Prong of the Northeastern Highlands physiographic region. Maintained purely by annual mowing for more than 50 years, the plant species present within the meadow fragment represent those that would have been present before the arrival of European settlers. Several plant species growing in the meadow fragment are quite difficult to find elsewhere in the region and play an important role in the survival of the Monarch butterfly and other indigenous insects: Monarda fistulosa, Asclepias tuberosa, Sisyrinchium mucronatum, and Solidago speciosa. The Springfield Township EAC is spear-heading an effort to both protect and restore the meadow fragment by improving its diversity using native plant species with local genetics appropriate for the site. In July 2016, Archewild and EAC planted native plant seedlings (grown from seeds collected in fall 2015) into the meadow.
Ridgetop Plant Community
The EAC are also protecting a second special ecoregion located on the Deer Trail boundary of the park, it is currently unmowed/cultivated and will be fenced to maintain the habitat and protect it from deer browsing.
Several ridgetops in Upper Bucks still contain remnants of plant communities that would have once dominated the area several thousand years ago and that now only exist in abundance in the Poconos. Peppermint Park retains a small area that is representative of this barrens-like plant community on the other side of the hill from the parking lot. This type of plant community emerges on very thin soil that typically overlays a granite outcrop and features diminutive plant species that are difficult to observe elsewhere in the region, including Danthonia spicata. This unusual area is under threat from both invasive non-native plants, sediment deposition, and by forest encroachment. The Springfield EAC is establishing plans to protect and restore this unusual plant community to help residents and visitors better understand the rich natural heritage of the Township.
A series of bluebird boxes are installed around the perimeter of the park. These are monitored and maintained by the EAC and were part of Springfield Township’s application to become a designated Bird Town. They are mainly inhabited by wrens and sometimes flying squirrels!