Sunday, April 19, 2009

Garden Fest: Building Community, Growing Vegetables

What an excellent gathering we had on Saturday!

Information table (thanks, Celia, for a wonderful vegetable display)

Planning a Garden information table: Sue Ercolini,
John Landers, Corrie Norman, Celia Melville and

Chuck Cruickshank (not in this photo).
Improving your soil (Karen Terry, Martha Duke and CU Student Organic Farm staff)

A first community event organized under the 'umbrella' of the Garden to promote growing your own food and finding locally-grown food and reaching out to folks of all ages and neighborhoods had literally hundreds of people at the tents at the far end of the Discovery Center parking area. The parking lot was almost continuously full for the 3 hour event, not a common occurrence.

Vegetable transplants were a hit, along with expert advice provided by CU Home and Garden Information Center staff Joey Williamson and Janet Scott along with Geoff Zehnder of CU Sustainable Agricultrue.

Kids had fun with Vegetable Twister,
coordinated by Sprouting Wings staff members
Allison O'Dell and Kendra Vincent,
along with SCBG volunteer Fred Mettlach

A planted Earth Box (check out the size of the chard!) - thanks to Upstate Locavores Ellie and Ted Taylor (and the donated Earth Box project)

The volunteer staff numbered over fifty dedicated folks from SC Master Gardeners, CU Home and Garden Information Center, CU Food Science , CU Sustainable Ag. Program, CU Student Organic Farm, Upstate Locavores, Students for Environmental Awareness, SCBG volunteers and staff, and dedicated 'independent' volunteers. Clemson Area Transit (CAT) provided free transportation from Clemson Community Care and Littlejohn Community Center, and an opportunity to find out about CAT.

Container Vegetable Gardening (Debra Strange, Dee Person, Linda Alston-Binic)

Planting in hay bales attracted a lot of attention, thanks to Dee Person's demo.

Information tables spanned 'Planning a Garden,' 'Improving your Soil,' 'Keeping Things Growing' to 'Container Vegetable Gardening'. Demo edible containers brought by Linda Alston-Binic and Debra Strange were always surrounded by a crowd.

The Heirloom Seeds table offered heirloom vegetable seeds collected by Dr. David Bradshaw ('graduated' CU professor of Horticulture) now maintained and sold by South Carolina Foundation Seed, through the Heirloom Vegetable Garden at SCBG. 'Preserving the Harvest' - staffed by CU faculty members from the Department of Food Science) encouraged folks to safely can, freeze, and dry vegetables and fruits, extending the season throughout the year.

The Upstate Locavores, who initiated this event (thanks, Ellie, Catherine, and Steve!), provided information about local farmers' markets, how to find local food, crop sharing, and regional resources.Students for Environmental Awareness helped with set-up.

The Garden unveiled our new gift shop offerings and promoted supporting the Garden (anyone who follows the state budget will realize how vital our outside support is to our continued survival and growth, and how much we depend and appreciate the support of our visitors, members, and donors).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Garden Sprouts find a crayfish

Yesterday we had our first beautiful day in the Garden for Garden Sprouts (3-5 year olds). We found this crayfish in the pool in Crucible - way cool!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring flowers

Rhododendron periclymenoides (Pinxterbloom Azalea)
Rhododendron austrinum (Florida Azalea)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A busy morning in the Garden

I showed up at 8 am Saturday in the Caboose parking lot for a OLLI birding class, led by Heyward Douglass.

There was also a small triathlon going on (the run looped around the Garden's back roads), a photography class (from Pickens County Museum), and an unidentified hiking group, who looked like they were ready for a much more challenging hike than the Garden presents.

A beautiful spring morning had a lovely show of birds.

A highlight was a pair of blue gnatcatchers (an early spring migrant) whose call tests hearing in higher decibel ranges.

A sharp-shinned hawk (about the size of a robin) raced by.

Among the Carolina Wrens and Tufted Titmice calling back and forth, we (at least Heyward did) heard a Yellow-rumped Warbler and other warblers.

An American Robin sang, and a mockingbird went through a complete song cycle, including an imitation of a hawk and a kingfisher!

The distinctive call of White-crowned sparrows was fun to hear, too.

But, the highlight of our walk was a group of Cedar Waxwings taking a break for a little sunning. Busy this time of the year eating berries of various sorts, they're usually on the move, cycling from tree perches to shrubs.

But here are several just apparently soaking in some sun.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A spring night hike

A spring night hike found us listening to early crickets, tree frogs, the final songs of resident cardinals, mockingbirds, and chickadees. It was a mild evening, a bit humid, but with signs of spring all around. There were more family groups this time (this is school spring break), and more than I expected (~ 40 people).

A couple of highlights were watching bats swoop around catching insects, and the flashes of lightning 'bugs' high in the oak-hickory forest. It's really early for lightning bugs; the warm weather probably encouraged them.

(This post first appeared on Natural Gardening).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Colors of Spring

Near the Duck Pond the red of the Japanese maple is displayed next to the white of the dogwood. This was a cold, windy day, but these colors remind us that spring is on the way.

Monday, April 6, 2009

More cedar waxwings

Early this morning, more cedar waxwings were swooping from their perches on the red oaks behind the Carriage House to devour berries from the hollies behind the Terrace Garden wall. I watched them for a bit; they're orderly in their progression, taking turns eating, perching, swooping, eating.

The sight of so many cedar waxwings is impressive. I've seen more big flocks this year than I ever have before!

Fast forward and listen to Patrick McMillan's spot about cedar waxwings on Your Day (on the March 12 program) for his take on the phenomenon.