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.