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!