Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Friday!

Lots blooming in the garden- of special interest is the spectacular Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentuckea) blooming near the entrance to the garden (see the "what's blooming" page of the website for the exact location). It's a great ornamental tree, with nice from, a huge stature, beautiful bark, and spectacular pea-family flower clusters reminiscent of wisteria. Check it out before it's done! Also, I want to let you know that the "Walk on the Wild Side" for May (5/6) will focus on the Ferns of the Blomquist Garden. You can always find the topics for the previous and upcoming tours on the "Wild Side" page on the website as well. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I had a great time with the Woodcroft Women's Club on Monday night. I presented a talk on "Sustainable Landscape Design" with an emphasis on building landscapes that last and have a positive impact on the environment. There were a number of questions after the talk that I promised I would address in a blog post. First, we talked about what I feel is the best mulch to use- leaf compost. It's what mother nature puts down in our forests once a year, so it should be good enough for us. A source for leaf compost in the Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Southeast Durham is Area Mulch and Soils. They only deliver to a few places in Durham, so not a total solution. The Carrboro Public Works department also has leaf compost periodically that you can pick up yourself. Visit their site to learn more. I couldn't find any mention of it there, but the contact info is there to learn more about what they offer. Also, I gave a lousy definition of Greensand, a common ingredient in a number of organic fertilizers. Here's a better one. We talked alot about soil building, and how important it was to healthy plants. Here's an article that gives a good overview of the topic, albeit it's on a website trying to sell you stuff. Ignore the product placements, and you'll get some good info. We also talked alot about fungi and how important a good fungal colony in the soil was to healthy plants. Here's a short piece of information about how that works. Here's where you can get fungal innoculants for your soil through the web. I have used the Mychorrizal Landscape Innoculant on that page and have had great results. If there are any other questions I didn't answer from the talk, please comment on this post with a question and I'll respond. If you weren't at the talk and have a related question on the topic, feel free to add a comment as well.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Do me a favor.... give me some feedback about the Blomquist Website "What's Blooming" page improvements in the past few months. It takes a good deal of work to keep things updated online in a timely manner, and I want to find out if it's being used. Let me know if you like it, hate it, or think it could be tweaked a bit to make it better. Thanks!

Happy Monday! I wanted to update our readers (all three of you!) about an interesting event. For the past eight years, Duke Gardens has partnered with the North carolina Native Plant Society to conduct periodic "Plant Rescues" on natural sites slated for development. We bring a group of volunteers and staff to the area, where we proceed to remove native species that would otherwise be destroyed and take them back to the gardens. There we pot them up or heel them in and eventually they go into the gardens as part of our collections. Here are a few photos from a recent rescue showing the digging, the potting, and the finished product ready for fall planting. On this trip we rescued over a thousand individual specimens representing eight different species of native woodland plants.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A lot to talk about... This past Friday I went to Winston Salem with Jason Holmes, Katherine Wright and Tamara Kilbane (all fellow Duke Gardens staffers) to visit the Emily Allen Wildflower Preserve. This large backyard, situated on five acres beneath an impressive hillside canopy of Tulip Poplars, is quite a special site. Open to visitors by appointment, the garden is the work of decades of attention and dedication to our native woodland flora on the part of a special lady. Use this link to view a slideshow of images from our trip, complete with pictures of Emily herself (our tour guide), as well as a multitude of Trilliums, the star attractions in the garden this time of year.

On Saturday morning, Easley Elementary held their Earth Day celebration. A part of the party was the dedication of the Easley Discovery Garden, a joint venture between Easley Elementary school, The Eno River Association, and The Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Click here for a link to a slideshow of images from the celebration. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This weekend there will be a dedication for the Easley Discovery Garden at Easley Elementary. If you've been reading the blog during the past year, you may remember this project as a joint venture between the Duke Gardens, The Eno River Association, and Easley Elementary School in Durham. We've done a lot of work on the garden in the past year, and we hope to have most if not all aspects of our design completed by the beginning of the '10-'11 school year. The garden features native trees, shrubs and perennials, and will be used as a natural outdoor classroom for Easley instructors to teach students about soil, plant and insect life cycles, native ecosystems and the connection between our natural and cultural histories here in NC. We hope to partner with the North Carolina Botanical Garden through the Earth Partnerships for Schools satellite program they administer there. Easley teachers could attend seminars in effective natural history education and outdoor learning, which would help bridge the growing gap between schoolchildren and nature.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Trying hard to keep pace with the blooming plants..... new photos on the "whats blooming" page of the website. If you are in the garden and see something blooming that's not on the website, let me know. Also, be my eyes and ears in the garden. The visitation is very heavy right now, and the chances for the plantings to be damaged are correspondingly high. If you see anyone off the path and in the planting areas (anywhere that is not a path or a structure), please kindly and politely inform them that setting foot off the path damages both the plants and the soil. Thanks for your help in keeping the Blomquist beautiful!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lots of new photos of plants in bloom on the "What's Blooming" page at the Blomquist Website. If you plan on taking pictures of your own, please respect the garden by staying on the path at all times. Thanks, and enjoy!

Friday, April 2, 2010


a few of us (Katherine Wright and myself) spent part of the afternoon yesterday at St. Phillips Episcopal Church in downtown Durham helping them with a community garden project. St. Phillips has a large community vegetable garden on-site that they use to donate fresh vegetables to local organizations. We were there to help set-up and install a drip irrigation system to water the crops this year. Here are a few photos from the event. Enjoy!