New Life Is Growing In Harwich's Brooks Park Hollow

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Monomoy Regional High School

Lily Daniels-Diehl among the daffodils she has planted in the Brooks Park Hollow, part of a re-vegetation effort she is spearheading after July’s tornado devastated trees in the public park. COURTESY PHOTO


HARWICH — There is bright new life growing in Brooks Park Hollow.

The hollow was devastated by the tornado that spun through Harwich Center last July. But Lily Daniels-Diehl, a Monomoy Regional High School student, is helping to restore life after nature's harsh swipe.

The tornado uprooted an estimated 1,300 trees along public property in town. Particularly hard hit was a stand of shade-casting trees that filled the hollow. The absence of the shade trees ignited sparked Daniels-Diehl to develop a plan to restore the wildlife habitat.

The Global Studies Program at MRHS encourages students to reach beyond standard classes to make a connection with the larger world. Daniels-Diehl saw the opportunity to better the community through such an initiative.

She started communicating with the recreation department, which has jurisdiction over the hollow, explaining she wanted to put together a project to re-vegetate the area. A few weeks later, Daniels-Diehl was before the recreation commission explaining the proposal. She also got the board of selectmen and the department of public works on board.

She contacted nurseries and landscaping firms in the area as fall turned toward winter knowing they might have excess trees and shrubs they did not wish to store in the colder months and might be willing to donate to the restoration of the hollow.

In early December, she raised funds during the Christmas Stroll to purchase flower bulbs. In December, Daniels-Diehl and family members were in the hollow digging through the wood chips that marked the fallen location of the shade trees.

“We planted around 200 daffodils and 50 tulips,” Daniels-Diehl said this week. The results of the effort are evident today.

But there is more to come. Her efforts to reach out to nurseries yielded numerous trees and shrubs. One nursery, she said, donated six butterbushes, three western popsicle azaleas, a shamrock inkberry holly and an azalea lollipop. Bartlett Trees also donated 100 saplings. Other donations from nurseries include arrow wood, summer sweet, American holly, American beech and many more plant species.

The DPW was extremely helpful assisting in transporting donations and storing the plants to protect them throughout the winter, Daniels-Diehl said. She will be working with the recreation department and the board of health in setting up a planting plan and has been in touch with the garden club, but the group has been unable to meet because of the pandemic. The plan is to plant the vegetation with strict social distancing; she hopes to have a plan for that in place by the end of May.

“I am hoping to have a few family and friends at first to get everything planned out. Hopefully we will be able to get in touch with other members of the community to help us plant, if needed,” Daniels-Diehl said. “It all depends on the regulations due to the pandemic and how much needs to be planted.”

The placement of the plantings will help determine how many people will be needed to help, she said.

“I hope to continue to see natural growth this spring and plan accordingly to ensure that natural plants are able to grow without competing for space. I want to make sure there is no problem with overcrowding of plants,” she said.

The Global Studies student is a junior in high school and said she will have time to monitor growth in the hollow for at least another year before she heads off to college, after which she will come back during breaks to keep an eye on things.

Daniels-Diehl said the project has taught her to be active in the community and she is excited about doing something to benefit the environment. It has encouraged her to take on future environmental projects and hopefully pursue a career in this field.