Thursday, October 28, 2010

Children's gardens

We have a wonderful (developing) Children's Garden.

It's been a staff-driven, bottom-up sort of project, supported by generous donations from local garden clubs and our Foothills Master Gardeners, in addition to individual gifts.

We're fortunate to have the work of a gifted gardener, Ginny Steadman, transform the basic plan and suggested ideas into a much more whimsical and engaging space, thanks to support from Sprouting Wings, SCBG Children's Garden, and SCBG Education Programs.

But this support is still shoestring compared to what would be need to truly transform this area (originally shop and support greenhouse, turf sheds, research areas, etc.)  The accounts listed above are open for public contributions, so if you're interested, we'd welcome your support.

Last summer,  I was able to visit a delightful Children's Garden at Phipp's Conservatory It was great fun, and on the perfect scale for their space.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall color

Some of the yellows and all of the reds are promising so far this year. The hickory behind the Carriage House is a clear yellow, and the red maples along Perimeter Road have been putting on a show.

But still to come are the gingkos near the Duck Pond (and Children's Garden), the witch hazels, and fothergillas (although the latter are already looking nice.)

Enjoy the color in your landscape if you're in the Eastern U.S.  We live in a special place, and share fall color with temperate Asia, but no where else (naturally) in the world.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sap oozing from bark

Aside from some sorts of sap-tapping (such as of sugar maples for human consumption), most sap-oozing is in response to wounds or insect damage, as far as I've been able to find out via internet research.   I'm not an expert on plant pests or plant diseases by any means, but as a plant ecologist, I do know it's not 'normal' for trees to ooze sap.

But, it's been interesting to observe the red admirals, commas, question marks, hornets, and other insects visiting the (obviously stressed) oak in the center of the planted area between the Caboose parking area and the Garden sign.

Take a look while the weather is still warm, if you're in the area.  It's the oak at the highest point, closest to the irrigation faucet, directly across from the Cadet Life Garden.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Butterflies seeking sap

Garden volunteers, Master Gardeners, and fellow butterfly enthusiasts Carolyn and John Turner told me today about butterflies visiting oozing sap on an oak near the Caboose Parking area and showed me some remarkable photos. 

There were Red Admirals, and Commas, and others taking advantage of the fresh sap, perhaps as a consequence of Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers drilling into the bark.

Garden horticulturist Kathy Bridges had alerted them to this, having just observed the masses of butterflies, and having talked with the Turners that morning;  it was the regular maintenance volunteer day for the Butterfly Garden.

Hopefully, I'll be able to post a few of their photos!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gulf fritillaries, monarch, and others

The purple lantana against the walls in the lower lawn garden (next to the Discovery Center) have been alive with butterflies the last few days.

Monarchs, pipevine swallowtails, tiger swallowtails, gulf fritillaries, variegated fritillaries, and skippers of all sorts are all over the flowers.

Similarly, the new Butterfly Garden has been full of flowers, caterpillars, and butterflies. It's been magical.  I wrote a post about a Gulf Fritillary chrysalis, spotted early this week, on my Natural Gardening blog.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The 'new' butterfly garden

It's been a fabulous first year for our Butterfly Garden.  It looks great, but more importantly, has hosted butterfly adults and caterpillars in abundance.  This summer and fall, we've been thrilled to see Sleepy Orange, Cloudless Sulphur, Monarch, Gulf Fritillary, and Black Swallowtail caterpillars taking advantage of the host plants we planted for them.

Here's a piece I posted on Natural Gardening with a photo of a cloudless sulphur butterfly. 

This is a great example of how providing host plants means adult butterflies (they were fluttering around this afternoon).