With several years in the making and an array of partners, the recently opened Culliton Park is a sight to see. Culliton Park lines Water and Furnam Streets serving as a mecca for community living and celebrates art in the southwest block of the City. By calling out the connection to community artwork, the theme “Be Like Water,” by local artists, Salina Almanzar and Matthew Geller is woven into the park design. This artwork honors the history of Water Street’s name with a stream buried deep underground that flows to the Conestoga River. The park features new basketball courts, playgrounds and a splash pool for the neighborhood. Rain gardens, conservation landscaping with native shrubs and perennials, and a reconstructed ballfield support stormwater management.

Besides recognition as a hot spot for community based artwork in the City of Lancaster and beautiful design, this park now showcases 66 newly planted native trees thanks to the dedication and commitment of teamwork. In the fall the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Lancaster Tree Tenders, and City of Lancaster Department of Public Works along with committed volunteers worked over two days to help plant trees. Of the 20+ species of trees planted in the park learn more about my favorite eight.

Favorite 8 Native Trees at Culliton Park:

  1. Alleghany Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) – Edible, delicious berries ripen in early June. Native Americans dried the berries to use like raisins to mix with meat in pemmican.
  2. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) – The fuscia pink colored flowers attract bumble bees. Flowers are edible and look amazing on cheesecake or your favorite dessert!
  3. White Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus) – Also called ‘Old Man’s Beard’ this tree showcases lightly fragrant, white flowers. This uncommon small tree is listed as Pennsylvania Threatened.
  4. Alternate Leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) – More than 35 bird species feed on the blue black fruit that ripens in summer, best bird feeder ever!
  5. Winter King Green Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis) – The bright, persistent red berries are relished by migratory birds like cedar waxwings and northern mockingbirds.
  6. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) – Besides the beauty of yellow flowers in late fall, Native Americans were known for using forked branches of American witch hazel to locate underground sources of water.
  7. American holly (Ilex opaca) – This evergreen tree is considered to be a species of concern by the Pennsylvania Biological Survey (PABS). A very well-known tree for its winter foliage and brilliant red berries. Masses of small bees and pollinators search for nectar and pollen on the small white flowers and the tree buzzes with life.
  8. White Oak (Quercus spp.) – The champion of trees, native oaks attract nearly 540 species of moths and butterflies according to Doug Tallamy, author of one of my favorite books, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. Nutritious caterpillar food for hungry birds plus acorns for urban wildlife means opportunities for bird and wildlife watching.

Alternate Leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) (Photo by Lydia Martin)

White Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus) (Photo by Lydia Martin)

Public parks, like Culliton Park offer residents and neighborhoods access to valuable green space. This incredible park elevates community art by talented artists to bring people together, recognizes the diverse array of partners who helped make the project happen, and builds resiliency in the urban environment. Be sure to stop in and visit the newly renovated park amenities. Take a walking tour of the native trees, rain gardens, and conservation landscaping that benefits the health and wellbeing of people and wildlife who call the City of Lancaster home.

Park renovations like those at Culliton Park will help capture and filter stormwater runoff, improving water quality for the City. It’ll also help Lancaster County reach its pollution reduction goals. Learn more about the county’s efforts to improve water quality here.