Along the HarborWalk are beautiful gardens with plantings indigenous to Cape Ann and North America that provide sustenance for birds, bees, and butterflies.
Designed by Kim Smith to provide four seasons of interest, these gardens are low-maintenance habitats to benefit pollinators. Visitors are inspired to locate and identify the tremendous wealth of flora and fauna found on Cape Ann and to translate that information to their own gardens.
Of particular note and a major component of the horticultural master plan are habitats created to help support the migratory species of birds and butterflies that travel annually through the region. Cape Ann lies within a largely unrestricted north-south corridor for migratory species of birds and insects and, in particular, Gloucester’s easternmost point is a unique and important destination along the Monarch Butterflies annual fall migration.
The tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) planted at St. Peter’s Square was selected not only for their great beauty and because they are excellent shade trees, but because of their historical significance relative to Gloucester. Tulip poplar is the primary wood used in the nation’s premier organ building studio, Gloucester’s own CB Fisk, and remains today the wood of choice for ship masts. The foliage of the tulip tree is one of the caterpillar food plants of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.
The Magnolia Virginiana planted at the I4-C2 Connector Garden is also one of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar food plants, as well as the food plant for the stunning Cecropia moth. Magnolia virginiana, like much of the flora growing throughout New England, was nearly collected to extinction. For this reason, the New England Wildflower Society was founded in 1900 to educate, promote, and conserve the region’s native flowering shrubs, trees, wildflowers, and ferns.