I wanted to add a post in honor of our Board members, and anyone else reading this for that matter, as a means to fill everyone in on some of the highlights inside and outside of the Blomquist garden during the last six months. Okay, now let me think....
Right, to begin lets talk about garden infrastructure. We now have proposals in place for us to consider from contractors interested in building our newest feature proposed in the garden, a covered footbridge. I'm very excited about this project, and the design process of this structure has been helped along by my colleagues here at the garden, most notably Paul Jones, Mike Owens, and Harry Jenkins. Here's an artist's rendition of what the bridge might look like:
It's been a great year for wildlife in the garden, and I don't mean Duke students. It's been three years since we embarked on a campaign to attract more wildlife diversity to the Blomquist, beginning with the addition of feeding stations for migratory and nesting songbirds, and continuing with a design focus on plant additions that attract a large variety of insect and bird pollinators, and culminating last year with the completion of the Blomquist Wildlife garden. Success in an effort like this can be hard to measure, but I'm happy to say that for the second year in a row, we have a nesting pair of Red Shouldered Hawks in the Blomquist, and we're pretty sure they have babies in the nest as I write this. These raptors typically will not nest in an area unless they have adequate prey available, so to have a pair of apex predators who feed on snakes, frogs and birds (hey, I 'm building a feeding station for ALL birds) and are happy and healthy and raising young on site says a lot about the ecological health of the area they've chosen to nest in. It's outcomes like this that I garden for. I've added a photo of a green friend from the Wildlife garden stream (she's got one eye out for bugs, and another out for hawks).
Conservation education and outreach has become an integral part of what we do in the Blomquist garden, and we've been fortunate enough to have formed some special partnerships recently. The most developed of these involves our work with Durham Public Schools and Easley Elementary School. Together with the Eno River Association, we put together a design for the construction of a native plant education garden at Easley, and after a fall and winter of periodic building it was formally dedicated on Earth Day this year. As our children spend most of their days at school, it seems imperative that we make those schools places where they will learn about and become champions for our embattled wild spaces. I hope to be involved with the growth and development of this garden for years to come. Click this link to learn more about this space that we've named the Easley Discovery Garden.
Photographs are portals into another place and time, and they can be valuable educational tools as well. During the last few months, a Blomquist photography project has come to full fruit that was begun four years ago. In conjunction with the Ladybird Johnson Wildlfower Center, we've made available the Blomquist photo catalog to any non-profit to use for educational purposes. That means anyone who works for an organization dedicated to the use, interpretation and conservation of our native flora can receive free digital copies of our images for use in their publications, websites, etc. In the past four months, I've noticed a huge increase in the use of the Blomquist Catalog by all sorts of folks who want to spread the word about the floral denizens of our fields and forests. You can view the catalog here. Images are being added 2-3 times per year, so check back periodically.
Finally, I wanted to mention the Blomquist Website as a tool for those who want to dive deep into what the Blomquist garden is all about. A significant amount of improvements have been made during the last few months, not the least of which is an improved "What's Blooming" page where you can, in real time, see photos of what's in bloom in the garden as well learn where those species are located in the garden and finally print a map from the same page where you can create your own self-guided floral tours. In the next few weeks I'll be adding an "Outreach" page
to highlight some of the community projects we're involved in, some of which include partnerships with the North Carolina Native Plant Society, The Southeastern Center for the Contemporary Arts (SECCA), St Phillips Episcopal Church in Durham, The Triangle Land Conservancy, and the list goes on.
Last but not least, ye old blog here is full o' information about what we do in the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants. Become a follower, share a link to the blog with your friends, and help us get the word out about the good work going on in the woods!