Benson Memorial Library, a place for books, bees and butterflies | New
By Garrett Dvorkin
Journalist of the Herald
The goal of the Benson Memorial Library is to educate the community, with whatever means necessary.
Library executive director Jessica Hilburn said Benson patrons are now used to the library doing new and different activities, so the pollinators and hydroponic gardens set up there aren’t new. .
“People are used to us doing weird stuff,” said Hilburn. After receiving a grant from the PNC, Hilburn decided to take the Benson Memorial Gardens to a new level.
The pollinator garden will soon have an improved sidewalk and a shaded bench.
“There will be some shade and a place to sit,” said Hilburn, “A place where it might be nice to open a book and read, just outside the library.”
Hilburn described the two plant-friendly areas as “fun educational tools.”
The library has an extensive collection of gardens, books on agriculture and planting in the field of non-fiction. Hilburn said the resources are used frequently and books are “one of our most popular sections”.
The on-site gardens are meant to allow interested people to piggyback on what the library has on its pages and provide concrete examples.
“This allows us to expand on the information we already have,” said Hilburn.
Part of what Hilburn hopes customers will soak up, just like the plants in question, is the importance of providing native pollinators. Pollinator gardens can help keep invasive species out, promote native plants, and provide habitat for native wildlife.
Native fauna and native plants play off each other, allowing both to survive and to thrive.
“They work in harmony,” said Hilburn.
To show its commitment to helping local wildlife, the library signed up to the Pollinator Pledge, launched by the Oil Region Alliance, and pledged to provide native habitats and plants that help pollinators.
The Oil Region Alliance has joined several of the 55 national heritage areas in Operation Pollination. Operation Pollination is a pollinator protection project that recognized the importance of bees, butterflies and other endangered animals.
According to the Penn State Extension, some pollinator-friendly plants you can plant in your own garden include: Mountain Cluster Mint, Boneset, Joe Pye Coastal Plain, Swamp Milkweed, and Stiff Golden Stem.
Although Hilburn helped the garden grow, she was not the creator of the pollinator garden. This honor goes to former executive director Justin Hoenke.
Hoenke’s idea, coupled with the time and effort of the Titusville Area Garden Club, evolved into what can be found today. Hilburn, on the other hand, said she doesn’t have a green thumb and wanted to show her gratitude to Carolyne Ford, who tends the plants.
Those of Northwestern Pennsylvania know that the weather is not conducive to flowering plants and gardens year round. To continue education full time, the library has added a hydroponic garden to its collection.
A hydroponic garden can be grown indoors and has a water base that you place the plants in. Some hydroponic garden machines, like the one at the Benson Memorial Library, include grow lights and a machine that tells you when plants need to be fed.
As previously reported in the article, Hilburn does not have a green thumb and has said that in addition to the hydroponic garden, she has killed almost every plant she is responsible for.
Hydroponic gardens can be a great place to start plants, to plant later. As evidenced by the large collection of plants in the library’s hydroponic garden, they can also stay and flourish there.
For those who love gardening but not the job, Hilburn said hydroponic gardens are “less work” because there is no weeding to do.
Dvorkin can be contacted by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.