Until last June, a thin strip of land that runs between the southern edge of Lake Agawam and the parking lot across from St. Andrew’s Dune Church on Gin Lane in Southampton was just “a weedy tangle,” according to horticulturist Tony Piazza.
But the Lake Agawam Conservancy, which was formed last year with the goal of improving water quality in the beleaguered pond, agreed to underwrite the approximately $31,000 cost of transforming what was just another drainage ditch into a bioswale that will help prevent road runoff pollutants from entering the pond.
Mr. Piazza used a variety of native plants, including swamp rose mallow, which is a type of hibiscus, ruby boneset, swamp milkweed, seaside goldenrod, sweet pepperbush, winterberry, northern bayberry, switchgrass and common rushes to create a garden that will bloom over the course of the summer and early fall and provide winter interest as well. The plants are also good at absorbing the rainwater that runs off the road through spaces in the Belgian block curbing and taking up the excess nutrients and toxins the water carries with it.
It being 2020, a year that will certainly go down in infamy, the planting work along the approximately 8-by-800-foot strip was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. By the time it was completed in June, things were already starting to get dry.
“We planted at a time of year that was not the best,” acknowledged Mr. Piazza, “and I thought it would be OK. But then we found ourselves in this unprecedented drought.”