Introduction to Bondsville Mill Park

(download pdf here)

Bondsville Mill Park is a unique East Brandywine Township park on the grounds of Bondsville Mill Village dating back to the early 1800’s. The park is open from dawn to dusk daily for passive recreation including a trail network. Some of the Mill property remains are being restored to reflect on the history. The gardens have been inspired by Doug Tallamy’s Homegrown National Park Program and as such, the focus of the expanding gardens has been to remove invasives, plant natives, use Keystone Plants where possible, ensure use of host plants, pollinator plants and habitats, and to use the gardens and programs to educate our neighbors and local communities so they will be inspired to start native habitats on their properties. We have hosted active programs that cover topics such as a milkweed workshop, meet the trees, natives, butterflies, habitats including live stream insects, endangered species day, animals in winter and annual backyard bird count, among others. Our aim is to study, restore and preserve the natural habitat and to provide support and information that will inspire our neighbors to respect and care for nature in their backyards.

Map and Directions

1647 Bondsville Road, Downingtown PA 19335

From West Chester Route 100 North, take US 30 West to PA-340 W/Bondsville Rd, take the PA-340 exit and bear right at the end of the ramp to travel on Bondsville Rd/PA State Rd 4015 for 1.4 miles. The park will be on your right.

History of how this garden was created: timing, designers, sponsors, workers

When the first garden area next to the parking lot was being cleared of bittersweet, Norway Maples and other invasives, we were rewarded with milkweed hiding under the bramble. So, the Butterfly garden was started in 2017.

Next were the Parking lot garden and Bridge garden—all created with native plants from a neighbor’s gardens, including shrubs. With the creation of these gardens, passers-by could see that something was being done on a Mill building. Up until then, the only line of sight was across the bridge. Visitors began arriving; so we cleared space to let them walk to the creek. This was so popular that we decided to clear the area from the Memorial to the creek for a picnic area. The Hummingbird garden was added when we were given Cardinalis plants. That summer, a hummer was seen in the garden on a regular basis. These areas are now identified as the Memorial Garden and the Creekside garden.

These successes prompted the development of the Pollinator garden in 2019 and the Milkweed garden in 2020 (the first 3 gardens were volunteer-designed). Then the Racewalk garden designed by David Culp was started in 2020. The new Culps Clearing garden, a nearly one acre David Culp designed project in front of the Mill buildings started in 2020 and is continuing with infrastructure work. The new Bruce Rawlings designed Amphitheater gardens were cleared and planted in 2022. The amphitheater and the Culp’s Clearing will be handicap-accessible when completed.

The gardens are managed by volunteers with occasional additional assistance from community support including Restore Our Roots, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Downingtown area high school students and community neighbors.

The Chester County Beekeepers and Hardy Plant Society provided grant money for the Racewalk plants.

Culp’s Clearing garden is the result of grant support from county and state.

Amphitheater and Culp’s Clearing diagrams below; plant list is appended at the end of the document

Problems/triumphs

Problems: Weeds! Deer, groundhogs, non-native praying mantis. Hurricane Ida flooding caused damage to the butterfly garden, the parking lot, some trail bridges and required shoring up the south vehicle bridge which caused significant delays in the Culp’s Clearing garden progress.

Triumphs: We’ve attracted more volunteer gardeners with a diverse set of skills, and we have a great community response when we request additional help on our big work days. We’re very thankful for grants we have received to date including Hardy Plant Society, Beekeepers, state and county. The Beekeepers are creating a bee classroom on the site and have donated a native bee hotel.

Future plans for Bondsville Mill Park

We are waiting on news regarding two grants that will provide funding for benches in Culp’s Clearing garden and additional plants for the Amphitheater.

Once the floor of the amphitheater is complete, we will be placing benches and we anticipate the space will be used by both the Bondsville Mill Park volunteers and the public for programs and education. We anticipate the David Culp designed garden area being prepared in front of the buildings to be completed in 2023. David has already introduced the leadership from many Philadelphia gardens to what’s being done at the Mill. We expect that David’s meadow design for Culp’s Clearing will be on many future garden tours. David hopes to have the bus tours that have visited his nearby garden to end at the Mill. With the planned parking lot with spaces for 60+ cars and bus drop-off spots we’ll be able to begin a regular schedule of nature, gardening, fitness programs,and to be handicap accessible.

Plant List

Main Butterfly Garden

Right/south side of path

Common Milkweed

Butterfly Weed

Mixed bed of:

Cone flower

Monarda Oswego tea

Mountain Mint

Queen Ann’s Lace

Solidago odora

Rudbeckia triloba

Joe Pye Weed

Under the sign: Rudbeckia

East/south end of path:

Asters

Grass ‘Ruby Ribbons’

Phlox ‘Jenna’

Solidago ‘Fireworks’

Circle

Front of Gate

Clematis ‘Virgin’s Bower’

Solidago ‘’Fireworks’

Coneflower

Back of Gate/ new area

Love Grass

Monarda

Little Blue Stem ‘Standing Ovation”

Hibiscus Mallow – ‘Fireball’, Pink Hibiscus Mallow ‘Elephant’’

Asters

Penesetum ‘Blackbeard’

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Upland Sea Oats

Annual Mexican sunflower

Left/north/Creekside

Elderberry Bush

Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’

Coreopsis ‘Rt 66 (yellow-red flower)

Silver Bell Tree

Hydrangea ‘Hass Halo’

Invincible smooth hydrangea

Joe Pye Weed – hollow stem?

Swamp milkweed

Sweet Woodruff

Wild petunia

Wood asters

Maidenhair fern adiatum pedatum

Hardy ageratum

Senna Herbecarpa 5.11.19

N.Y. Ironweed

Coreopsis ‘Gilded Lace’ 6/20

Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’ 6/20

Honeysuckle ‘Major Wheeler’

Middle bed

Vanilla Spice Summer Sweet

Button Bush ‘Sugar Shack’

Catnip ‘Six Hills Giant’

Creeping Phlox (moved out)

Asters

Phlox ‘Jenna’

Achillea millefolium ‘Ortel’s Rose’

Penesetum ‘Blackbeard’

Love grass

Cooreopsis ‘Cruzin Main Street’

Physostegia Virginia ‘Miss Manners’

Butterfly weed

Rudbeckia maxima

Front/parking garden

Mix of:

Helianthus/ Oxeye daisy

Cone flowers

Rattlesnake Master

Asters

Rudbeckia

Golden Alexander

Callisia rosea ‘Morning Grace’???

Honeysuckle ‘Major Wheeler’

Path side

Joe Pye Weed

Helianthus ‘Low Down’ 2019

Ostrich ferns

Wood aster

Celandine poppy

Meadow rue

Penesetum ‘Husker Red’

Physostegia ‘Miss Manners’ 2019

Echinacea

Monarda fist. ‘Clair Grace’

Little Blue Stem ‘Standing Ovation’

Phlox

Little Joe Pye Weed

Asters

Hummingbird Garden

Monarda . ‘Clair Grace’

Phlox

Hibiscus Mallo ‘Sweet Carloine’

Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’

Swamp milkweed

Swamp Verbena 6/2020

Short-toothed mountain mint

Yellow root

Tall Meadow Rue

Echinacea ‘Green Twister’

‘Little Joe’ Joe Pye Weed 9/13/21

Memorial Garden – Front side

Rudbeckia

Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’

Panicum ‘North Wind’

Smooth hydrangea ‘Incredible

Spiderwort ’Sweet Kate’

Wild ginger –

Back side

Magnolia virginiana ‘Moonglow’

Dogwood

Lady in Red Lady ferns

Doll’s Eyes Actaea pachypoda

Hardy begonia

Wild Columbine

Cornus alternafolia (3)

Jack in the pulpit

Wild hydrangea

Heuchera 3-4 varieties

Golden Alexander

Butterfly weed

Asters

American Holly

Meadow Rue ‘Nimbus Pink’

Silver Bell tree

Monch asters

Viburnum nannyberry

Oak-leaf Hydrangea

Creek

Magnolia Butterflies tree

River Birch tree

Fern Garden

Ostrich ferns

Golden Ragwort

*River Birch (young)

*Viburnum nannyberry 2

*Witch Hazel ‘Sunburst’

Spiderwort ‘Concord Grape’

*Sweet Shrub ‘Venus’

Carex – variegated

Violets – white

Bridge Garden

*Spice Bush

Monarda – Husker Red

Celandine poppy

Lady ferns

Joe Pye Weed

Solomon’s Seal

Creeping phlox

Wild geranium

Solidago ‘Little Lemon’

Walkway

Rudbeckia

Erigrron ‘Lynn Haven Carpet’

Milkweed Garden

*American Hornbeam

Butterfly weed

Common milkweed

Swamp milkweed

Solidago

Asters

Arbor

American Wisteria

Heuchera

Aronia

American Hazelnut tree 5/11/19

Illicium x woodland ruby Carex Pennsylvania

Pump House

Ninebark ‘Center Glow’ 6/20

Above race

*Red Cedars 3/ 2019

*Common Hop tree 2/2019

Trailhead garden 2020

Cup plant

Joe Pye Weed

Coreopsis ‘Gilded Lace’

Mondo grass ‘Undaunted’

Hardy ageratum

Cone flowers

Mountain mint

Coreopsis ‘Red Satin”

Spring Yellow Trailhead

Virginia Blue bells

Blue phlox

Mayapple

Christmas Fern

Above Race/hillside 3/30/19

*Appalachian Spring Dogwoods – 50

*Redbuds 50

Flameleaf sumac/rhus (2 )

*Magnolia Sam Brown

*Dogwood Sam Brown

*American Holly 3 Sam Brown

Fringe Trees Fall 2020

Juniperus ‘Taylor’ Fall 2020

Leucothoe Fall 2020

Silver Bell Fall 2020

Carex ‘Bunny Blue” Fall 2020

Pollinator Garden

Swamp milkweed

Agastache ‘Golden Jubilee’

Joe Pye Weed

Rudbeckia triloba

Cosmos

Tithonia ‘Torch’

Zinnias

Verbena Bonariensis

Culp’s Clearing Spring 2023

Daffodil ‘W.P. Milner’ and ‘Queen of the North’
Cammasia ‘Blue Melody’
Fritllaria mealagris
Molina ‘Transparent’
Schizachyrium ‘Standing Ovation’
Eragrostis spectablis
Sesseleria autmnalis
Eragrostis triptyeris
Erigeron
Leucanthemum vulgare
Baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’
Ascelpias tuberosa
Verbascum bombicyefirum
Agastache ‘ Purple Haze’
Aster l. ‘Bluebird’
Aster l. ‘October Skies’
Poppy Seeds (Mixed Cvs.)
Rhus copallinum ‘Lantham Purple’
Rhus lancinata
Rhus ‘Irienne Chartreuse’
Rhus copallinum ‘Quintent Quartet’
Juniperus virginiana “Burkii’
Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’
Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’
Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’
Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’
Magnolia aspera
Magnolia macrophylla
Magnolia tripetala

Amphitheater Plants

Evergreen Shrubs

American Holly (5)

Illicium (8)

Rhododendron Vasei (15)

Pieris Floribunda (3)

Deciduous Shrubs and Trees

Bottle Brush Buckeye (4)

Hydrangea Arborescens (30)

Sour wood tree (1)

Service Berry Multistem (3)

Blueberry (15)

Clethra (21)

Oakleaf Hydrangea (2)

Fothergilla “Alice” (3)

Perennials

Heuchera Americana Dales Strain (25)

Heuchera Autumn Bride (25)

Geranium maculatum (15)

Tiarella Oakleaf (25)

Tiarella Brandywine (25)

Tiarella codifolia (15)

Phlox divaricate (25)

Phlox stolonifolia (15)

Amphitheater Continued:

Carex Bunny Blue (15)Carex Appalachia (30)

Planted as of 4.18.22

Solidago golden Fleece (20)

Tiarella cordifolia (40 plugs)

Aquilegia Corbet (40 plugs)

Aquilegia Kirigami (40 plugs)

Aquilegia Little Lanterns (40 plugs)

Lobelia Black Truffle (30 plugs)

Geranium Rozanne (40 plugs)

Still to come:

Virginia Bluebells (30)

Native pachysandra (750)

Packera (100)

Golden Alexander

Asters