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Volunteers spruce up native plant garden in Lehighton

A group of volunteers have pitched in to spruce up a native plants garden along a portion of the D&L Trail in Lehighton.

The group banded together Thursday morning at the site of the Native Plant and Garden to weed the garden and spread mulch at the site along Lehigh Drive.

Lowe’s Home Improvement in Mahoning Township donated 24 bags of mulch toward the cause, according to Mark Hoffman, chairman of the Lehighton Area Pool Pals.

Hoffman was joined by Scot Wingert, of the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission, and volunteers Jack and Shelly Finnegan, Bobby Warner, and George and Nancy Markley.

He said the Markleys have taken the lead in keeping the garden weeded over the past few years.

Both George and Nancy, who are 86 years old, said they were more than willing to help out.

“I’m glad I can still do this,” said Nancy, while George added, simply, “It’s fun.”

Wingert said that the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission will be mulching 22 trees at the Lehighton Recreation Center today.

Hoffman said the Native Plant and Garden Project was installed in April of 2022.

“The idea behind the garden is to provide those using the D&L trail a place to rest while enjoying the beauty of the Lehigh River along with the wildlife making a home along the river,” Hoffman said. “Just the time and effort, coming together for the common good, and making something more beautiful than what it was.”

Hoffman said that back when his wife, Diane, and he were on the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission, Diane applied for a grant from the PennEast Pipeline in the amount of $2,500.

“We could see the potential of this area,” Mark Hoffman said. “It all just came together.”

The native plants found in the garden were planted by a group of volunteers September of 2022 under the direction of Stacy Nash from Parkland Nurseries.

“Stacy’s come back a couple of times,” Hoffman said. “She’s done some spot weeding, spot spraying.”

Hoffman noted that various organizations played a part in the garden such as the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission, Carbon County Chamber, Wildlands Conservatory, Landscape Conservation Audubon Mid Atlantic, Stacy Nash from Parkland Nurseries and Lehighton Borough.

The garden is planted with native species of plants specifically planted to attract birds, bees, butterflies, etc.

The Native Plant and Garden Project was funded utilizing a grant through the Audubon Mid-Atlantic and provided by the William Penn Foundation Funding for the Delaware River Watershed Initiative and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Natural Resources.

Organizations that made the Native Plant and Garden Project possible include Audubon Mid-Atlantic, Natural Lands, The Wildlands Conservancy, DCNR, Lehighton Shade Tree Commission, Lehighton Downtown Partnership, the Borough of Lehighton, and the Carbon Career and Economic Development Corporation.

Volunteer Nancy Markley applies mulch as her husband, George Markley, rakes at the Native Plant and Garden along Lehigh Drive in Lehighton. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS