Thursday, December 10, 2009

A note about a new Blomquist staff member...

Katherine Wright will be my new assistant and the new Horticulturist in the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants starting January 4th. Katherine comes to us from the Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC) where she has been an Easement Steward, working with property owners to develop plans to help them conserve the land they own and the plant and animal species that call their property home.
TLC and the Blomquist Garden have developed a close relationship over the last year, and having Katherine as a Duke Gardens employee in the Blomquist Garden will only strengthen that tie with an organization that we believe is very important to all of us, as their mission of conservation helps create a tapestry of intact wild landscapes throughout the Triangle. To learn more about TLC, who they are and what they do, use this link, and please join me in welcoming Katherine next month.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good afternoon...

I wanted to fill you in on a recent conference I attended. The NC-EPPC annual meeting (North Carolina Exotic Pest plant Council) was held last week in Chapel Hill at the new visitor center for the North Carolina Botanic Garden. These meetings bring together botanical professionals from across the region to discuss strategies and methods of curbing the spread of invasive plants in our wild landscapes. If you would like to learn more about the council, it's mission, or this year's conference, visit this link. If you'd like to become a council member, you can download a membership form from that same link. Enjoy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

We had a great tour yesterday in the Blomquist. The "Walk on the Wild Side" focused on cold weather adaptations that allow plants, native or otherwise, to survive the winter months. Thanks to the folks who came out for their great questions. The January class/tour will focus on winter interest in the native plant garden. See you January 7th at the Blomquist gatehouse at 11:00.

Now, for something completely different...
I'll be giving a presentation at the 2010 Cullowhee Native Plants Conference. The topic will focus on conservation education at botanic gardens with an emphasis on what we've done in the Blomquist Garden as well as our community outreach work to connect the public with native plants and habitats. I feel honored to be given the chance to speak to this topic, as it's one that is near and dear to my heart. If you've never been to the conference, and have an interest in native plant horticulture and conservation, consider attending. You can learn more at this link. See you soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


the walk on the wild side tomorrow will focus on winter adaptations. This will be a follow up to our discussion last month about fall color. Tomorrow we'll discuss how native plants survive the cold winter months, and what goes on below the soil during this time of year that we can't see.

See you there!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hey! Book recommendation...

The Myth of Progress, by ecologist Tom Wessels is a powerful, compact read. At 130 pages, it's an easy book to finish in a quiet afternoon, and it's one that will stay with you long after you've put it down. Wessels uses elegant prose to weave ecology, economics and politics in an amazing web designed to build an image of exactly how it's come to this: a world full of entire ecosystems and human populations fated to be seen as throwaways should they a) fail turn a profit, b) stand in the way of progress, or c) fall short of wallstreet expectations. Wessels questions our assumptions about global competition and capitalism through comparisons between economic systems and natural environments, in the end making the argument that our current global market focus and fixation on ever expanding economies is a house of cards destined to collapse as we ignore it's very foundation and poison our air, water and soil. If you care about the state of our planet, and feel compelled to understand the "big picture" of how human activity effects the global environment, please read this book.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

P.S. as per the last post..

I'm adding a page to the Blomquist website tonight called "The Wild Side". You'll be able to go there each month to see what the topic will be for that month's walk along with a brief description of what we'll cover.
A quick reminder about tomorrow's "Walk on the Wild Side".

The topic will be "Fall". We'll discuss why leaves turn colors, why the trees and shrubs that once (earlier that year) depended upon them give them the boot, and how plants evolved to have this type of hot and cold relationship with their photosynthetic workhorses. See you there! (11:oo a.m. at the Blomquist Gatehouse)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Every day, multiple times per day, in fact, I try to figure out how to save the planet. What I mean is, I search my brain for ways to interpret the state of the world. Yes, I hear the same news that you do every morning. Banks failing, bombs exploding, and people living in quiet desperation, praying for their next meal. What I don't hear much about is the ticking bomb we're sitting on; the one we've worked a few centuries to create, the planet we're slowly but surely wrecking. At parties, I can be a downer. I try not to be, really. Eventually the topic will turn somehow to what I do, and then eventually to what matters to me, and then eventually to that ticking bomb. The thing is, I'm a very happy, optimistic person by nature. I love to smile, and laughing is something I do without thinking. I'm also quite distressed about the health of planet earth fifty years from now, when I hope to be tottering after my great-grandchildren. What type of earth will they take for granted, and will it bear any resemblance to the one I was born into? So I search, daily, for a way to communicate to those folks at parties, who don't understand but could find it in them to care, why we have to make responsible earth stewardship a part of all of our lives.

I recently received a letter from someone I met through my work here at the Duke Gardens. This person, who has aided my conservation work here in the Blomquist Garden, and who shares my concern and distress about the state of our global environment, sent along with her letter a copy of a recent speech on this topic. Paul Hawken is an entrepreneur, writer and environmental activist with an eloquent pen. In May, he was charged with delivering the commencement address at the University of Portland. His topic: why we should have hope for the planet in the face of such distressing trends. His prose is far more powerful than mine, so I'm including it here for you to ponder. I believe, as he does, that the time is short in which to act, but that there is hope for our beautiful spaceship.

Paul Hawken's commencement address to the University of Portland, May 3, 2009

When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was "direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful." No pressure there.

Let's begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation... but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don't poison the water, soil, or air, don't let the earth get overcrowded, and don't touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn't bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn't afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here's the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world." There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. "One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice," is Mary Oliver's description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown -- Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of
people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not "out there" somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can't print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a "little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven."

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn't stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn't ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Blomquist happenings in the news... here's a link to a short video by Duke Productions about the "Walk on the Wild Side" tours in the Blomquist Garden. Check it out.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A rainy, cool Thursday...

I love this weather. It gives me an excuse to sit by the fire, drink something hot, and wax nostalgic about my younger days playing football in the broomstraw fields of my youth. . .

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... a garden grows and new things happen every day. I'm a big fan of creative architecture in the garden, and we have something exciting planned as far as Blomquist construction projects go. A covered bridge is in the planning process at the moment. This new structure will replace an existing bridge that has served admirably, but whose sunset is approaching, as they say. I'm including an artists rendition of this new structure in this post so you can begin to wrap your brain around the idea. I'm very excited about it, and I can't wait to see the first visitor round the corner to see the finished product. More news to come.........

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A quick note..

The "Walk on the Wild Side" for November (11/5) will focus on Fall. We'll discuss why trees shed their leaves, what's behind those brilliant fall colors, as well as some of my favorite native species for fall color.
Happy Wednesday!

If you've been reading my blog lately, you've no doubt noticed my involvement with the construction of a native plant garden at Easley Elementary School. I thought I'd take a few minutes to describe why the Duke Gardens is involved with this project.

I think that most of us would agree that our nation has collectively moved away from an intimate understanding of mother nature and how she works. We don't know where our food comes from (before it gets to Food Lion), where our water comes from (before it gets into our pipes) or how a forest is more than a green backdrop for a golf course. This disconnect has created an alarming level of apathy on the part of the average citizen. We watch impassively as the woods and streams of our childhood disappear, to be replaced by concrete, asphalt and two-by-four monocultures.
Have we truly forgotten the lessons we learned watching leaves turn to rich soil as we grew, or was nature just an abstract backdrop to us even in our early years? Whatever is at the root of our disaffection with mother nature is, it's up to us to prune it and start anew.

Anyone who has children will tell you that having kids around you opens your eyes. They see everything, and their sense of wonder and curiosity is infectious. If we want to re-connect our societies with the natural world, I believe we must start young, before those open eyes begin to close. For that reason, the Duke Gardens has embraced the idea of bringing nature back into the schoolyard. If we can create spaces where children can experience the beautiful diversity of their local wild environments right outside their classrooms, and if we can design those spaces to meet the needs of teachers, I think that we will have a great start toward fostering a much more profound understanding and appreciation among young people of the beauty and wonder of our remaining wild spaces. To learn more about what's happening with our current project at Easley Elementary, please visit the project website. Until next time, "Enjoy the Wild"!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Buenos dias!

We had a great garden volunteer workday on Saturday at Easley Elementary. Thanks to all those who gave of their time to help with this special project. I've included a photo of a group shot we took at the end of the day. If you would like to be involved in the ongoing construction of the Discovery Garden, please e-mail me at for info about future volunteer opportunities. To see all the photos from the Discovery garden construction process thus far, visit the website and look in the "Easley Gallery" photo album on the "Easley Albums" page. Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Good afternoon,

If you are thinking about volunteering tomorrow (10/10) at Easley Elementary to help with the construction of their Discovery Garden, here is a link for directions to the school. See you there!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I had a great visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden last week. They are really doing their part to teach visitors about the need for responsible stewardship of the earth. If every botanic garden would focus some part of their horticultural and educational energy towards turning back the rising tide of environmental degradation and disinterest, our descendants might still have a healthy planet to call home. The time has passed for half measures on this topic. We are riding "shotgun down the avalanche" right now, going about our daily routines as if our planet was not facing the prospect of the largest public health, ecological, and food crisis humans have ever experienced. The next 40 years will determine the future of our planet, and it's time for us all to act.

On a lighter note, we had a good group of folks attend the latest "Walk on the Wild Side" in the Blomquist Garden. I've included a photo of our group. We had a good discussion about the pervasive problem of invasive plant species in the environment, how they do what they do, and why they MUST be removed from our wild landscapes.

Finally, please consider volunteering this Saturday (10/10) at Easley Elementary in Durham to help with phase one of their Discovery Garden construction. We'll be out there from about 10-2, with some folks coming in a bit earlier and staying a bit later. I'll post a photo album of the workday next week on this blog.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Anybody out there? If you are, heres a link to a short video interview I conducted with Tom Harville, the president of the North Carolina Native Plant Society. I have a good bit more footage, so we'll probably see Tom again soon. Look for more of these video interviews in the near future with folks involved in the protection and celebration of our native flora!

Here's a link to a photo gallery from the plant sale this past Saturday. Enjoy!

Hey there!

A few notes. . . We had a great plant sale this past Saturday. It was cloudy and cool, and the rain held off until the very end. I'll post a link for a photo album from the sale in the next day or so. The "Walk on the Wild Side" this Thursday is about invasive plant species and why they are such a problem in the garden and in wild landscapes.

Please consider making a small donation of your time or a modest monetary contribution to aid the construction of the Easley Discovery Garden that I've mentioned here before. You can learn more about the garden at If you'd like to donate your time, we'll be having a workday on Oct 10th to begin the formal construction for the garden. Monetary donations should be sent to Easley Elementary with a note that they are for the Discovery Garden attached. Thank you in advance for your support of this special project.

I'll be going to the Chicago Botanic garden this Thursday to present a poster about the design and construction of the Church Endangered Species garden found within the Blomquist Garden.. The conference is focused on global plant conservation efforts, and is timed to coincide with the opening of the new Plant Conservation Science Center at the botanic garden.
Go Bears!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lovely, cool rainy day... Fall is on the way. You've heard me mention the collaboration between the Duke Gardens, the Eno River Association and Easley Elementary in Durham. We're working together to design and build a native plant educational garden on the Easley campus. If you're interested in learning about the project, you can now follow what we're doing at The site is brand new and obviously will grow as the project grows. I'm going to upload a photo album tonight of sketches from Easley students- these are drawings of what the children imagine the garden might be, and, as is the case with everything kids create, the pictures are amazing and imaginative. Check it out!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy Thursday! Don't you just love four day weeks! I'd like to thank all the attendees at the most recent "walk on the wild side". We had over twenty people on the tour, most of them with red hats on. Yes, the ladies of the Cary Red hat Society joined us, and we had a blast. We talked about plants with interesting stories, touching on Cherokee plant legends, anecdotes about plant explorers, and plants with interesting wildlife connections, to name a few. The next walk, on October 1st, will focus on invasive plant species in the garden. I look forward to seeing you all! The goldenrods and asters are starting to get going in the garden, and a plant is getting ready to bloom in the wildlife garden that I'd be willing to bet you haven't seen before. Solidago faucibus, or Gorge Goldenrod is a native of small regions in the mountains of South Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky, and it's quite a looker, if you ask me. Check it out!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Howdy! A few notes on recent events and ones soon to come..

This past weekend I participated in a small plant rescue in the research triangle park. The site will soon be a large toll road that cuts through EPA property. The plants we were there to rescue are part of a relic piedmont prairie, a once-widespread ecosystem in this part of the state. I've been there a few times, each visit focusing on rescuing a different group of plants. Saturday I went for diversity rather than quantity, and came back with twelve different species of flowering perennials from the site. I've been working jointly with the North Carolina Botanic garden, the NC Native Plant Society, and the EPA to work out a rescue plan that will help ensure we can save a diverse representation of this ecosystem. If you'd like to learn more about the site, what species can be found there, or the piedmont prairie ecosystem, e-mail me at

The "walk on the Wild Side" this Thursday will focus on plants with unique stories. I'll pick eight to ten species of native plants with interesting natural/cultural histories and spend time speaking about each of them. As always, meet at the Blomquist gatehouse at 11:00.

A week or so ago, I took a trip up to Martinsville, Va to look at an interesting native plant project. Employees and volunteers at both the Piedmont Art museum and the Virginia Museum of Natural History had heard of my work in the Blomquist Garden, and a group of them had come to visit me a few weeks ago here at Duke. They are part of a team charged with designing a native plant garden adjacent to both museums. We toured the Blomquist Garden here, and then a week later I visited Martinsville and chaired a design meeting to discuss their needs going forward in the design of this new garden. It's an exciting project, integrating the cultural history of the Martinsville area with the natural history of the Virginia piedmont into a cohesive garden setting with an emphasis on education. Following the meeting, I recommended they contact a landscape architect colleague of mine who will help them put the ideas we fleshed out onto paper.
Fun stuff!

Also... I'm helping design a native plant garden for Easley Elementary off Guess rd. in Durham. We're having a volunteer workday there on Saturday, September 12th to rip out the old stuff on the site. Anyone interested in helping should contact me for more info.

Finally, I'm helping St. Phillips church in downtown Durham design and install a drip irrigation system for their community garden on the church grounds. Anyone who might be interested in volunteering to help with the installation sometime this fall, let me know and I'll put you on my community project volunteer list. This is a GREAT community garden that provides food for a variety of organizations/residents in the downtown durham community. You would be proud to help with this effort.

See you soon,


Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Monday! (okay, okay,... put down the rotten fruit and take a deep breath everyone..) I wanted to post a follow up to our last "Walk on the Wild Side" with Lauri Lawson from Niche Gardens. It was fun, informative, and really well attended! Thanks all! Lauri sent me a short bibliography of medicinal plant tomes she uses as references, and some of you expressed an interest in learning more about the plants we talked about. Here's the list:

"People had asked to post books on the BlomBlog: The books that I'd
recommend specifically for Eastern native medicinal plants are:"

Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke,
Peterson Field Guides

Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians, by Patricia Kyritsi
Howell, Botanologos Books

Planting the Future; Saving Our Medicinal Herbs, by Rosemary Gladstar
and Pamela Hirsch, Healing Arts Press

The Cherokee Herbal: Native Plant Medicine from Four Directions, by J.
T. Garrett, Bear and Company

There you have it! Lauri also gave me some suggestions for speakers to interview for my blog native plant video series starting in September. Do you have any? These will be 3-5 minute videos on a single topic. Each person (Horticulturist, Ecologist, Teacher, Conservationist) will be asked one question about a native plant topic with a "big picture" focus, and they'll have as much time as they want to respond. I'll edit the answers down to the aforementioned time and go from there! Comment on this blog or send your suggestions to

See you soon,


p.s. for those of you who visit the Blomquist Garden official website maintained by yours truly, no- Columbines are not still blooming in the garden. I have been lax on updating the "What's Blooming" page on the site. I'm going to remedy that tonight and get a new photo album of currently blooming species onto the web page. Sorry for the confusion.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In the coming months look for a new feature in this blog. Once a month, starting in September, expect to see a youtube link for a video interview feature. I'm going to make the rounds of my colleagues and friends in the native plant community and ask them big questions like "What's so special about native plant species?" or "why should the average person on the street care if a plant or animal species becomes extinct?". I could rattle off my own diatribe about these topics, but I think it would be much more interesting (trust me) if I was able to get opinions from other folks who deal with these topics on a day to day basis, and who have a few more gray hairs, and by association a bit more experience in the areas we'll focus on. These will be short (3-5 minute) videos with usually one response to one question or topic. If you have any native ecology topic you would like to see covered or someone (maybe you) who ought to be interviewed, please comment on this post and let me know. I'm really looking forward to playing Geraldo Rivera, so give me some good questions to ask!

Friday, July 31, 2009

G'day mate!

A few things to talk about...

Next Thursday (8/6) the "walk on the wild side" in the Blomquist will focus on native medicinal plants and their natural and cultural histories. Our guest speaker will be Lauri Lawson from Niche Gardens. Lauri is an very knowledgeable herbalist as well as horticulturist, and we look forward to hearing what she has to say. As always, we meet at the gatehouse entrance to the Blomquist garden at 11:00 a.m..

Jan Watson (a fellow Duke Gardens employee) and I took a trip to the SECCA offices in Winston salem yesterday. SECCA (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art) is housed in a historic estate that one belonged to the Hanes family. Fredric Hanes, once a Duke chemistry professor, is credited with the initial idea of building a public garden where the Duke Gardens is now located. He approached Sarah Duke in the 1930s with this idea, and together they began the process of creating the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. This historic connection led us to conduct a volunteer invasive removal of Chinese Wisteria on the SECCA grounds yesterday. In the weeks to come, look for a link for a photo album from our trip on this blog. The art center at the estate is undergoing renovations at the moment, but it will reopen in January of 2010. Located nearby is Reyniolda House (which housea a historical american art collection), Reynolda Village ( a series of shops and restaurants) and Reynolda gardens (a gorgeous ornamental stroll and vegetable garden). Plan a visit to SECCA sometime next year, and add the Reynolda complex onto your itinerary as well. You won't be disappointed! For more info on both sites, visit,,, and . Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hi all! It's been a few weeks, I know. I can explain. It's the weeds. They captured me and took me to their leader, and she said I couldn't go back to work or write any new blog posts until I signed a contract, in blood, stating that I would never again associate myself with any product designed to bring about herbicide. Evidentally they found out that I had recently been involved in herbicide on a massive scale at the Sylvan Heights waterfowl center in Scotland Neck, and they wanted to make me pay. I tried to explain that those had been invasive exotic weeds, and that I had simply rid that site of wanted plant thugs, but they were unimpressed. Queen privet called that ethnic discrimination, and threatened to bury me neck deep in Kudzu, so I crossed my fingers and pledged to never harm another weedy plant, invasive or otherwise. Whew!

Anyway, the summer is slowing down a bit now, and i have a chance to breath a bit. The invasive removal trip the Duke Gardens staff took to Sylvan heights was alot of fun. We got rid of a good bit of chinese privet, along with some other wanted plants, and then got a tour of the facilities from Brad, the curator. We'll be going back this fall at some point to work again- check this blog in the coming months for more info.

Three of us just returned from the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference> -see this link for a conference facebook page. It's a great chance to learn more about what's happening in the native plant landscaping and conservation community. Check it out.

Finally, someone put me in front of a video camera the other day for a very short film about interesting plants in the Blomquist Garden. You can check it out at Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Afternoon all! Just wanted to let you know that last weeks "Walk on the Wild Side" tour in the Blomquist garden was well attended and informative. We spent an hour with Jeff Pippen from the Duke School of the Environment looking at dragonfly, amphibian, reptile and bird species within the garden. It was a real treat to have a guest speaker who knows his stuff as well as Jeff does. I hope to bring him back to focus on the natural history and identification of native bird species later in the year. Stay tuned! As I mentioned in my last post, we have another guest speaker in August (8/6). Laurie Lawson from Niche gardens will be teaching us about medicinal plants from our region. Please join us. Anyone who is interested in volunteering for a community invasive plant removal trip this month, let me know. On July 16th we'll be heading to Scotland Neck to visit the Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park to help them with a chinese privet problem. If you've never been to SHWP, this would be a chance for you to see some amazing birds from across the globe and help a special institution through volunteering. Send me an email at to sign up for or ask questions about the Sylvan Heights invasive removal trip. Finally, the web album I mentioned posting of the many stages of the recently completed Wildlife Garden will be available Friday. I'll post a link to the album on this blog.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hey there! I just wanted to give you a heads up about two upcoming tours in the Blomquist garden. Tomorrow (7/2) Jeff pippen from the Duke School of the Environment will be our guide for a peek into the world of native wildlife in our local ecosystems. We'll use the Blomquist garden as a showcase for some of these fascinating birds and insects. On August 6th, Lauri Lawson from Niche Gardens in Chapel Hill will be leading a tour focusing on native medicinal plants of our region. I hope to see you there! A last note: the Wildlife garden is now finished and open to the public. Look for a photo album featuring this garden in all it's stages of construction on the Wildlife Garden page of the Blomquist website next week. See you soon!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Good morning! I feel like an old piece of beef jerky after this past weekend! (I'll elaborate) I spent Saturday at the Triangle Land Conservancy's Green Jamboree in Chapel Hill. It was HOT and WINDY (thus the beef jerky reference), but it was also a LOT of fun. I facilitated a wildlife gardening seminar at the jamboree that culminated in the actual planting of a wildlife garden adjacent to a historic house on the property. I had about 30 people attend the seminar, and a good number of them stayed after my talk to brave the hair dryer heat and help put plants in the ground. The event would not have been possible without the generous donations of a number of organizations. Plants for the event were donated by the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Niche Gardens, Mellow Marsh Farm, Cure Nursery and Hoffman Nursery. Other help for the event came from the North Carolina Native Plant Society. Thanks to all of you who helped! As the garden matures over the next few years, we will make plans to use it as an educational tool in the effort to educate the public about the importance of gardening for wildlife. You can also visit and choose the link for the Wildlife Garden to see what we've been doing to encourage the use of native plants for wildlife attraction here at Duke Gardens. I'll post photos of the TLC Green Jamboree on this blog as soon as they are available. See you soon!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What was that?! Oh, never mind. It was just the last three weeks of my life passing by in the blink of an eye. Lots going on these days. My trusty sidekick has been out with a bad back for three weeks now, and I promise I'll never take him for granted again. (not that I ever did, really). At any rate, the weeds stop growing for no man, and the show must go on, etc, etc. For those of you coming to the "Walk on the Wild Side" tour tomorrow in the Blomquist Garden, we'll be discussing the natural history and landscape uses of native ferns. Want to get out of the house? Come to the Triangle Land Conservancy's "Green Jamboree" on June 20th at the Irvin Farm property in Chapel Hill. I'll be conducting a hand's on (that means you will be getting dirty) wildlife gardening workshop there in the afternoon. You can learn more at If there is anyone out there who wants to learn more about invasive plant removal, the Duke Gardens will be involved in two community invasive removals this summer. Send an email to me at for more info. K- the weeds are growing. Be back later..

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I love this weather! The past three days have felt like summer in the mountains, with low humidity, a constant breeze, and temperatures in the 60-70 degree range. Too bad it can't last. It won't be long before the dog days are here, when you do your yearly gut check and ask yourself yet again why you chose a profession that requires you to spend NC summers with a shovel in your hand. In my case, it was what I learned to do in prison. Ooops, strike that comment. I forgot to mention that in my interview. But seriously folks, you gotta love this weather! Okay... what's new? Well, for starters, soccer season is over, so no more long drives at rush hour to Chapel Hill. That's really what I've become when I'm not working at Duke or for myself: a chauffeur who transports young athletes to (pick a sport) practice. I'm sure you didn't log on to read about my children's athletic exploits, though. If you did, just ask me about them the next time you see me and I'll fill you in. One thing of note to discuss is an event I'll be attending in June. The Triangle Land Conservancy in hosting a "Green Jamboree" on June 20th at Irvin Farm in Chapel Hill. I'll be conducting a wildlife gardening seminar during the event. It will involve both instruction on the principles of gardening for wildlife as well as a hands on event in which participants will help me plant a small wildlife garden during the seminar. I'm looking forward to it. As far as what's happening in the Blomquist Garden, at the moment it's weeding, weeding, weeding (rinse, repeat). Warm temps plus abundant rain = an explosion of green things popping out of the ground. The Poison Ivy is particularly agressive this year. Fun, fun, fun! As far as invasive weeds are concerned, Youngia japonica is the weed du jour. This Aster family member is a pain in the rear. It grows fast and goes to seed faster, meaning that if you better not turn your back on it or....POOOF! Job security in the form of thousands of Youngia japonica to deal with next year. Want to learn more about it, just Google "Pain in the @#%$#". I mean, just Google Youngia japonica and prepare for a deluge of hand-wringing and curses. A last note: the "walk on the Wild Side" for June (6/4) will focus on native fern species. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Singing in the rain... just when it seemed we were about to enter another hot dry prelude to summer, voila! The rains the past few days have really perked things back up again. The weeds appreciate the rains as well, unfortunately. Oh well, that's what we call in the green industry "Job Security". For any of you interested in attending the monthly walk in the Blomquist Garden tomorrow, the topic will be the newly completed Wildlife Garden. We'll discuss the design and construction of the collection, as well as go through a number of related topics such as a) the connection between plant and animal diversity, b) neighborhood scale wildlife gardening, and c) the importance of using native plant species to sustain native wildlife. I hope you can make it. If so, meet me at the gatehouse entrance for the Blomquist Garden @ 11:00. See you then!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hi there! I'm about to go to work at my "other job" (landscape contracting), but I thought I'd drop a line or two about recent goings-on in the Blomquist Garden. It's hot and dry all of a sudden, and watering has begun in the garden as a result. Rain is called for this afternoon and evening perhaps, a cruel irony of sorts as the Sarah Duke Gardens 75th anniversary gala dinner is tonight, and a portion of the proceedings are outdoors. We need the rain, but perhaps not until the dinner bell, if that can be arranged. Beautiful flowering continues in the Blomquist, with the native azaleas continuing to steal the show. Check out our website at to see photos of what's in bloom right now on the "What's Blooming" page. Since that site was created on an Apple computer, it looks it's best using a windows version of the Safari browser. You can download this browser at . Our spring board of advisors meeting is in full swing as we speak, with folks from across the region coming into town to catch up on what's been happening in the gardens over the last six months. Finally, try to catch the Columbine "meadow" before it's gone. Adjacent to the Endangered Species collection is an area covered in thousands of pendulous Columbine blooms. As is always the case, if your in the garden and you see a guy with a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses who happens to be covered in dirt, it's probably me. Feel free to ask me about what deserves a look in the garden, or just to stop and say hi.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hey there.... Lots of things happening in the garden right now. I'll try to hit the highlights. First, the Trillium have been spectacular this year. Come in soon before they're all bloomed out. This has been the best spring wildflower season I've seen in a long time, and the garden bears that out. I've got to say thanks to the Triad chapter of the NC Native Plant Society, and especially to Linda Waldrep. Linda helped organize a plant rescue in the Burlington/Greensboro area that was attended by Cheryl and Jeff Prather, both Duke Gardens volunteers and Native Plant society members. The Prathers brought back approximately 100 beautiful Trillium cuneatum that would have been destroyed. We look forward to adding them to our collections this fall. Thanks again Linda! The plant sale is coming up this weekend (4/25). The native plant collection will focus mostly on wildlife attracting species. Check back on Thursday for a complete list of plants you will be able to purchase from the Blomquist collection. The wildlife garden is basically finished- just some last minute details to take care of. It will be open to the public the weekend of 5/2. Another plant group that is on fire in the garden right now are the native azaleas. The piedmont, pinxterbloom and florida azaleas are going crazy right now- don't miss them. Bottom line: the rains this winter and spring have created the perfect storm for gorgeous spring floral displays- come in soon and stay a while! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Free expression... that's what a blog's about, right? Saying what's on your mind, and things of that nature. Well, what's on my mind at the moment is this- chronic garden abuse. Known as CGA by those psychiatric professionals unlucky enough to specialize in it, Chronic Garden Abuse is most likely not an entirely new phenomenon. I'm sure the Egyptians and Babylonians had their share of folks damaging their oases and hanging gardens. I bet they had very creative ways to deal with them as well. Well, my playbook of punishments for those folks who do damage to the Blomquist Garden is pretty limited. Let me tell you, sometimes I wish for the good old days...

The abuse I'm talking about comes in many forms. I have folks who leave trash wherever they please. I have folks who carve their initials into all my artistic benches and structures. I have folks who steal the plants right out of the ground, leaving nothing but a hole behind. I have folks who walk right through the planting beds to get a closer look at or a photograph of a plant. I have parents who let their children roam free through the garden, whether they stay on the paths or not. I have botany professors who dissect my flowers in full view of garden visitors and then say they aren't doing any harm. I have school groups whose chaperones would rather whistle in the wind and look the other way than EVER discipline a child about their loud, obnoxious, disrespectful or destructive behavior in the garden. I have folks who create shortcuts through my beds because they're too lazy to go a few minutes out of their way. In short, I have a plethora of people who have no idea what they're doing: bit by bit, destroying a natural treasure that has taken 30 years to create. How are they destroying it? Well, I'm glad you asked. 

Any time you set foot off the path in the Blomquist garden, you are killing plants. If you aren't stepping on a visible plant, you are trodding on a dormant one beneath the leaf litter or compacting the soil next to one, thus damaging that plant by association. Trash, graffiti or carvings take my time to remove or repair, thus taking time away from other tasks such as gardening. Disciplining children and college students about destructive behaviors take my time
and raise my blood pressure, both of which reduce my productivity in other tasks such as, say, gardening. Replacing dead plants that have been stepped on or killed due to soil compaction caused by foot traffic take me away from things like gardening.  A month ago I spent two days repairing a wanton act of vandalism to a part of our irrigation system. Nothing was stolen, just broken beyond recognition for no reason other than just plain random stupidity. That's two days not spent gardening. These types of examples are not anecdotal. One or more of them happen on a weekly basis. Why? I ask myself that all the time.

The optimistic answer is that they simple know not what they do. If they truly appreciated how much attention and dedication went into producing the garden they're visiting, (not on my part, Mother Nature's) they surely wouldn't do it, would they? I mean, even the irrigation pipe smasher person, if he or she knew what a special place the Blomquist Garden was, how it is a living museum of nature's wonder,they wouldn't still smash, would they? Well, some of them would. We'll probably never be totally rid of the carvers and smashers. What about the plant smooshers, stealers and clippers? How do I get them to stay on the paths and leave their trowels and pruners at home? I'm serious, how do I get the public to respect the garden?

Don't get me wrong, as is usually the case, the few can often distract us from the respectful many. Most of the people who come to the garden know how to act. How do I deal with
 and educate those who don't? This is not a rhetorical question. I would love to hear from folks who work in public settings about how they handle situations like these, and more importantly, what strategies they use to head them off (effective public information campaigns, etc.) I look forward to hearing from as many folks as possible.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Okay, so it's been a bit since my last post.... I'll try to do better, I promise. Seriously, I have been working on another online project recently that I wanted to mention. I've created a full website for the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants that has pages for all the major thematic areas of the garden with links and photos. You can check it out at
One of my favorite parts of the site is the "Sneak Peek" page, that has a number of Blomquist garden photos as well as a link to the entire Blomquist photo collection on the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center photo database. Not only can you view every photo I've taken from the Blomquist garden, but I've made the images available for free for any non-profit use.

Lots of bird activity in the Blomquist these days... The most fun has been watching a nesting pair of Red-Shouldered hawks. They have a nest high in a pine tree not far from the pond with the millstone crossing. The best way to find them is to listen- they call to each other constantly, and one or the other is often busy bringing food back to the bird minding the nest. So far it seems that snakes are the food of choice. Also, Pine Siskins are recent arrivals at the feeders. Cedar Waxwings have been spotted finishing off the Winterberry Hollies as well.

Spring wildlfowers are really getting going. It looks as if the beginning of April will be prime time for the largest variety of blooms. Join us on the first Thursday in April for the monthly Blomquist guided tour. The April tour will be all about Spring Wildflowers in the Blomquist Garden.

The bridges in the Wildlife Garden will be going in this weekend (3/28). The planting in the garden is basically all done. Next step will be finding a few choice mossy logs and stumps to give it that "lived in" feel. Pine straw comes next, and then once the bridges are in place over the stream, the path is the last thing to be built. We're hoping to have it open for business by the middle of April. Come by!

Finally, I wanted to say thank you to all the Dirt Gardeners at the recent gardening symposium at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines. I gave a speech there about native spring wildflowers, and enjoyed myself immensely. A generous, attentive group who made me feel right at home. Thanks again! Till next time...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Holy Frijoles! It's March already?! A rainy, cold Sunday by the fireplace with a cat at my elbow soaking up the warmth. I am officially obsessed. No, not with the cat, with my job. The construction of the latest addition to the Blomquist garden has taken on a life of it's own inside my head. I wake up thinking about it. I dream about it. When I get home I want to eat dinner and go back to work with a flashlight. I've always enjoyed my work here, but this project has taken it to a new level. I think it's all about confluence. All the different hats I wear on a daily basis have come together in this endeavor to the degree that it's a bit scary. The Blomquist Wildlife Garden has brought the ecologist, gardener, writer, contractor and latent workaholic in me all into focus at once. I really feel that gardens like this, that focus on tying together issues like global warming, development, botany and wildlife ecology, are a huge source of hope for our future. I don't mean to imply that I think I can save the world with this garden. I do feel that I can influence and inspire others to possibly emulate elements of it's construction, and in doing so, spread the word about integrating nature back into our everyday lives, rural, suburban or otherwise. Truth to tell, it most likely looks like a pile of mud at the moment, after this weekends rain. It's a small space, really. You might come by and wonder what all the fuss I'm making is all about. Give me another month or so and check back. I'll be doing a tour of the garden once we have all the plants and interpretive signs in place- check this blog for dates (most likely the first Thursday in May). When it's completed, and it makes a contiguous tour route with the Endangered Species and Carnivorous Plant Collections to the south, visitors who might otherwise not take the time to appreciate this garden in the woods that is the Blomquist will follow the signs through these projects and leave a bit closer in spirit with the world out of doors. Who knows. Maybe I just need to believe I'm making a difference or I'll just fall on my spade. That would be messy. Let's save my fellow gardeners a nasty chore and save the planet, shall we?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hi there! I just got finished writing some of the text for a new interpretive sign in the Blomquist Garden, and I thought I might share a bit with you. With each new garden area we develop within the Blomquist Garden, we incorporate some type of informational signage to help visitors appreciate the area. As we near completion on the wildlife garden, I've been thinking alot about how to convey to the public how important gardening for wildlife is. For me, it's a lens that I look through for all the gardening I do in the Blomquist. I try to make sure that every new design incorporates the idea of food, water and shelter for insects, birds and mammals. I do this because it gives me another chance to reference this topic with visitors wherever we are in the garden. Insects feed birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Insects, birds and mammals provide plant species with pollination and seed dispersal services. Plants provide insects, birds, mammals, etc with food as well as shelter in the form of nesting materials or places for insects to develop between life stages. We rely on plants for everything. We'd die without them, and thus it's in our best interests to maintain healthy ecosystems by maintaining plant diversity. One of the ways we can do this is by helping maintain the diversity of the wildlife species that plants depend on. Please, garden for wildlife by adding plant species to your landscape that supply their needs. Each of us can make a difference-really. For a great book on this topic, pick up a copy of "Bringing Nature Home" by Doug Tallamy. Also, feel free to contact me through the blog with questions or comments on this or any other native plant related topic. Till next time....

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hi all! A few days have passed since my last entry- my how time flies when you have two kids with the flu.... I wanted to give a hearty thank you to my two tough tour attendees last Thursday. We walked the Blomquist Garden and talked about many of the issues affecting birds in our local wild habitats and gardens. It was most likely below twenty degrees with the wind chill, so a big hats off to you both. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the next tour will be on March 5th, and will focus on the early botanical explorers that so many of our natives are named for, and the latin naming system used by them all to describe the wondrous plants they found.

I also want to say welcome to those visitors who learned of this blog through the NC Native Plant Society website. This is a great, well-run organization that does a lot of good work for native plants. If you are not familiar with them, visit the website to learn more.

As I'm in the process of doing the final design work on our new Wildlife Garden, I thought I might mention a few nurseries that I use that have a good selection of natives for attracting our local birds and insects. For great native perennials, I am very partial to Niche Gardens ( Most of my native shrubs and small trees come from either Carolina Native Nursery , Rarebird Nursery 919-853 3969, or Cure Nursery You can also get links to these and others at the NC Native Plant Society website in their sources section-

Till next time..

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Where's the snow? I woke up this morning at 5am like a third grader and peeked out the window to see how much white stuff we had gotten.....NOTHING!!!??? Seems to be story of our lives the last few years; folks to the south and north get the winter wonderland and we're left wondering what did we do to deserve this? (At least that's what my boys were thinking when they got up this morning- no doubt they had the day planned out in their heads: throw snowballs, play video games, eat- repeat till dark). Oh well, life goes on in the garden, snow or no snow. The stream in our "under-construction" wildlife garden is almost complete. Come by next week to see it flowing-probably Thursday or Friday. Planting will begin soon after, with a heavy dose of Viburnums, Hawthorns, Hollies, and other bird and insect attractors. We also have a new feeding station near the Pitcher Plant bridge (just south of the Endangered Species garden). The bridge has footrests for sitting and watching the birds and other wildlife come to eat and drink. My Blomquist crystal ball also tells me that in the next month on this blog will debut the Blomquist Botanical Cinema (BBC). Short informational movies produced by and starring yours truly (I got the bug in"L'il Abner" in junior high, and i've been looking for an avenue back to the stage ever since). The subject matter will be ecologically eclectic, with a heavy dose of Invasive Species management, Endangered Species education, and Gardening for Wildlife. Just remember, we have no makeup artists here at the Duke Gardens, so please no comments about my hairdo, etc.

Oh yes, just a heads up- the March 5th "Walk on the Wild Side" tour in the Blomquist Garden will focus on the early botanists who helped identify many of our native plant species, with an introduction to botanical latin thrown in to help us speak their language. Hope to see you there.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Calling all volunteers! The Sarah P. Duke Gardens is looking for a few good killers. Okay, okay, I'm only referring to the eradication of invasive plant species, not Carolina fans or anything like that. (I'm actually a closet tarheel, shhhhh...) Anyway, we're looking to start a group of volunteers dedicated to removing invasive plant species from natural habitats across central NC. Interested individuals will receive training in invasive removal from Duke Gardens staff, and will acompany staff members on trips to schools, nature centers, preserves, etc. in the piedmont region where we will lay waste to invasive plant infestations. Sound like fun? Our first trip will be to the Sylvan Heights Waterfowl center ( in Scotland Neck to help with a Chinese privet problem there. Email Stefan Bloodworth at for more info.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hey Ho! Only two weeks since my last entry! I'm on fire! Hehe. Anyway, just wanted to provide a heads up for those of you interested in attending one of the monthly walks I host in the Blomquist Garden. Here follows a tentative schedule of the upcoming topics we'll be discussing during the tours:

2/5/09- We'll be talking about birds in the garden. Mostly we'll discuss the effects of climate change and urbanization on native bird species, along with the importance of maintaining biodiversity in landscapes and native habitats for the health of our local bird species. Finally, we'll look at some birds in action at the Bird Viewing Shelter, and touch on the implications of unhealthy ecosystems for insect and bird diversity. Bring your binoculars if you have them!

3/5/09- To be determined- check back soon!

Also, I'll be in Pinehurst at the Weymouth Nature center for their Dirt gardener's Workshop on March 17th. I'll be giving a talk on Native Spring Wildflowers. Hope to see you there.

Consider joining us for a Botanical tour of the Nashville, TN area April 15th-18th. We'll visit a number of unique natural habitats in the area, among them the very special Cedar Glades ecosystem. We'll also tour Cheekwood Botanic garden and Growild Nursery, one of the premier growers of native plants in this part of the country. Email Stefan at for more info.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold day, and getting colder. We're looking at 10 degrees or so for a low tonight, which for us is pretty #$#$ cold. The birds are on overdrive at the feeders today in the garden, trying to put on a few ounces of fat before hunkering down for the night. I counted eleven species at the Bird Viewing Shelter during a five minute period, plus a plethora of squirrels squabbling over what they could scrounge. For those of you who may not visit the Blomquist garden often, we now have binoculars and field guides you can check-out from the visitor's center here at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. In a short time, you can become pretty farmiliar with our usual suspects at the Bird Viewing Shelter or anywhere in the Gardens.

Our new year in the garden kicked off this past week with our new series of monthly walks in the Blomquist Garden. On the first Thursday of each month, you can meet me at the Blomquist gatehouse for a one hour tour through the garden. We'll discuss topics pertinent to the gardening season or the current news cycle as it relates to native plants and native plant habitats. Please join us!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Am I a blogger? Maaaybee. Well, lets get this snowball rolling...... I love technology when it works for people like me. By that I mean folks who have no real love of tech for tech's sake. So this is exciting- a site where I can communicate to others about what I do without pulling out my hair over technical issues and my own incompetence. That said, let's begin.

I'm a dirt digger. That's pretty much the story. I dig holes and fill them with a) Plants, b) rocks, or c) water. I do most of my digging in the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, NC, and since this blog is about the garden and not the gardener, lets focus on my office from now on. (If you really want to know more about me, first, check your medications- then, if you are still curious, check my profile here on the blog)

The Blomquist Garden is a special place to work. I say that alot, and it starts to sound hackneyed after a bit, but I mean it. If the term "urban oasis" means anything to you, then the Blomquist Garden is your spot. Six acres of piedmont woodland smack dab (I love using that saying) in the middle of a busy college campus can't help but become a refuge for people, plants and animals alike, and that's precisely how I like to look at this garden. The Blomquist is a quiet place for humans to filter out the hubbub of a busy city and get back to the peace of the woods. On another level, the Garden is a living museum. Displayed throughout the year are over one-thousand species of plants native to the southeastern United States, many of which are becoming harder to find in the wild. The final piece of the mosaic is the collection of animals and insects who use the Blomquist Garden as a place to feed, mate and raise their young. To pull all of these elements together, a network of interpretive signage offers insight into the hidden world of the botanic garden, and how the living collections here function to improve the quality of life for a host of species, Homo sapiens included. I hope you'll return to this blog in the coming months as I update happenings here in the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.