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!