Songbird garden provides soundtrack to semester’s start
Landscaping project born out of student brainstorm
Nestled alongside Governor’s Drive, a new environment has been thoughtfully constructed for those seeking respite from the dense and busy campus—whether humans or songbirds. Stockbridge School of Agriculture students Lee Michalopaulos and Eliza Forrest, working as interns for the Landscape Management department, created the Songbird Garden from concept to completion this summer.
The garden is meant to be able to attract birds year-round with plants that provide food or attract insects during each season. Using plants native to North America, the garden addresses three habitat necessities for songbirds: food, water and shelter. “By addressing these needs we helped increase essential habitat for songbirds while allowing people to enjoy the garden and bird watching within,” says Michalopaulos.
Plants found in the garden that provide seeds and berries include sunflowers, daisies, blueberries, and arrowwood viburnum. The garden was created around existing birch trees to add shelter, and ground cover in the form of ferns and irises provides more. Arborvitae shrubs offer nesting and roosting sites. A bird bath was created from reclaimed granite.
Michalopaulos notes that bird lovers and naturalists in private and public landscapes have created gardens to attract songbirds for many years, but “UMass may be one of the few universities currently with a garden dedicated to songbirds.”
Students led all aspects of the project, from creating the proposal and budget, to choosing and sourcing materials, to installation of plants and hardscape. Kathy Dion of landscape management says, “It was a huge job that required many crew members to make it happen. We are thrilled with the design and the outcome.”