Thursday, October 29, 2009

SC Master Naturalists

I was delighted today to spend a good bit of time with this year's graduating class of SC Master Naturalists, as well as some of the graduates of the last two classes.

This is the third class for the Upstate, so it now represents three groups worth of folks that are interested in the natural world.

We discovered and observed all sorts of things in the Garden, which is a wonderfully friendly place to connect with nature.

It's very much a human-influenced habitat, but it's a place that we're able to see how plants support wildlife, forests recover from long-term disturbance, and created ponds support frogs, cattails, and other organisms. Plants have stories to tell, whether they're native plants, or introduced ornamentals.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mockingbird song

Both male and female Mockingbirds sing in fall, marking their feeding territories. Todd and I have been hearing one singing quite loudly outside the Carriage House recently. Mockingbirds are tremendous mimics, both of other bird songs and calls, and other sounds that they've heard.

Check out this link, for a great recording of a Northern Mockingbird song cycle, recorded by Lang Elliot. Can you hear the Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, and the Eastern Towhee?

This was another post about their songs.

Fall color walk

There were a nice group of families on the Fall Color Walk last week. We talked about berries, fruits, leaf color, and seasonal change, in addition to all sorts of other things.

Jessica Nelms, photographer for the Daily Messenger/Seneca Journal, took a great photo of several girls intent on observing dogwood berries.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Children's Garden

If you haven't visited the Children's Garden lately, you've missed something special.

Magic happens here.

In the Peter Rabbit Garden and the Ethnobotany Garden, flowers and foliage create spectacular views and vignettes, with interesting plants and diversity of color and form.

Ethnobotany Garden - Oct. 2009

The plants have been chosen with a purpose; they have stories -- of their uses, their scents, of their medicinal qualities, etc.

The morning light was lovely, and even though I didn't catch it at its peak (I had to run home and get my camera), it still reflects on how spectacular the Ethnobotany Garden has become, under the stewardship of Ginny Steadman, our Children's Garden manager.

And how inviting is the Peter Rabbit Garden, to be sure?

It's filled with exuberant flowers and welcomes children and adults alike.

We saw probably one of the last monarchs of the season there today, nectaring on the zinnias, planted by Sprouting Wings kids and adults, and self-seeded, too!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tagging monarchs

Garden volunteers Carolyn and John Turner are keen on butterflies, to be sure, but to have a goal of getting 100 monarchs 'tagged' during the fall migration as part of MonarchWatch is a commitment.

MonarchWatch is a great program because it helps us follow monarchs, and understand more about the biology of a fascinating insect - basically a 'Citizen Science' project.

These are images of John and Carolyn tagging monarchs on the afternoon of our Butterfly Garden planting.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monarchs & John and Carolyn Turner

Many folks don't subscribe to newspapers any more, but I've continued our subscription to the Greenville News just to have a feel for what's going on in the Upstate.

Marian St. Clair, a SC Master Gardener and SC Master Naturalist, in her regular weekly gardening column last Saturday for the Greenville News, mentioned monarchs coming through (there have been lots in the last few weeks).

But more fun, she featured our butterfly gardening friends, John and Carolyn Turner, in her piece.

For now, this is the link to the on-line version.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Planting day in the new SCBG Butterfly Garden

Who-hoo! How fabulous to have a new site, many great new plants, and more to come, with such a nice group of folks to help plant and learn about butterfly gardening.

Rosie, Linda, Jackie, and Jeff planting

Here are more images from this morning.

Gathering together

Getting ready (the Turners and Kathy Bridges, an SCBG horticulturist)

Planting with Carolyn Turner, Donna Crader, Linda Alston-Binic, and Rosie Bayer

Our butterfly gardening friends, John and Carolyn Turner, and I are SO excited with the new site for the Butterfly Garden. John Bodiford and Kathy Bridges (our horticultural staff colleagues) along with James Arnold (on grader duty for this project - thanks, James!) were totally supportive, and I know I'm just grateful and pleased.

Our Lake and Hills Garden Club friends, who underwrote our initial butterfly garden planting (thanks so very much), turned out too, represented by club president Rosie Bayer and butterfly-garden liaison Linda Alston-Binic.

We had a monarch-tagging as a dedication. Photos to come.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A new butterfly garden

It's totally thrilling to get ready to plant our new Butterfly Garden, in a sheltered, but sunny area adjacent to (and really part of) the SCBG Children's Garden.

Our first Butterfly Garden site was on a windy hill, and designed by a gifted student, but she wasn't steeped in butterfly biology, and the plantings basically consisted of butterfly bushes, and a few other nectar plants.

A local garden club (Lake and Hills Garden Club) has been a devoted sponsor for many years of our original Butterfly Garden site, and we're delighted that they're participating in the new location as well.

Butterfly enthusiasts John and Carolyn Turner, along with me, have selected a large array of nectar and caterpillar host plants, at least in our first pass.

It looks like it will become a great garden. We've still got lots of plants to add, but our planting tomorrow will provide the basis for a lovely array of nectar-producing plants as well as host plants for most of our common butterflies.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Student volunteers

Thanks to Bethany Avery, the Snell Vegetable Garden is looking quite tidy. A student volunteer, she responded to our call for vegetable garden volunteers in September.

She's helped harvest cherry tomatoes, beans, and peppers (which go to the Clemson Community Care food bank), and helped zap most of the winter annual weeds that have popped up everywhere.

We're sowed turnip greens, radishes, lettuce, kale, arugula, and transplanted broccoli, cabbage, and collards for our fall/winter garden rotation.

It will be interesting to see how the season progresses.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hearts a'bustin

This past week I was lucky enough to walk on the Heusel Trail in the Garden. The road from the Discovery Parking Lot into the arboretum, which leads to the Trail, is one of my favorite areas of the garden (although I do have many, many favorites in the SCBG). Once on the Heusel Trail my eye was drawn to the beautiful fruit of Hearts a'bustin scattered throughout the woods. They are a sure sign of fall for me and their fruit is one of the most dramatic (aside from American Beauty Berry) I know. I didn't have my camera but if you find a small fruit with a pinkish cap and four deep red seeds hanging down you have discovered it. Walking this trail in all seasons is a wonderful treat, if you haven't found it yet you should check it out!