Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I thought I might add a few photos to the blogosphere here. I am in love with the Wildlife Garden at the moment (for the tens of thousands of readers for whom this is their first Blomquist Garden blog post, we have a small themed garden within the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants which is called the Blomquist Wildlife Garden). At any rate, I spend at least fifteen to twenty minutes a day in the Wildlife Garden, usually pruning and weeding, but equally as often just looking. It's a wild space, and through the heart of it runs a small stream. I have been doing a good bit of very selective pruning lately to open small windows that a visitor can use to gaze up the stream course and see into another world. A healthy population of both green and cricket frogs have made the stream their home, and if you take a moment and sit on the northernmost bridge and look upstream, chances are you will see anywhere from one to five or six frogs in varying states of seeming repose. Some have only their bulbous eyes above water, peeking from within a blanket of detritus in the stream itself. Others are perched along it's banks at differing heights among the boulders. Yesterday Katherine called me to say she had seen a large Garter snake making his or her way upstream. I was there soon after, and the frogs had, predictably, gone into hiding, save for a brave soul peeking out from beneath a soggy Spicebush leaf in the water. For me, this is the essence of gardening; the creation of places where humans can revel in their ability to give succor to their own souls through the act of emulating nature, while at the same time creating a refuge where mother nature's wheel can continue to turn and we can be witness to it all.

I'm including a few photos of my froggish friends, their habitat, as well as some images of the new cedar fencing we've installed along the path in the garden. Don't forget the tour with Katherine this Thursday at 11:00. See you there!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Tuesday...

I mentioned in my last post our cooperative garden project at the NC State Fairgrounds with the NC Native Plant Society. If you click on this link you can see a few photos of the garden soon after it's construction. We'll be putting the finishing touches today on phase one of the cedar fence addition to the Wildlife Garden. I have enjoyed this project a great deal, mostly because we've done the whole thing "in-house", as it were. We harvested the downed cedar from my family's property in Northern Durham county, we cut, sanded and finished all parts of the fence by hand on-site, and we installed the fencing ourselves. The fact that the existing rails on the bridges in the Wildlife Garden (expertly constructed by Justin Waller) were made of local red cedar, and the existence of a young red cedar tree in the garden itself, influenced my choice to add another architectural element using this material. One of my favorite landscape architects, Jens Jensen, was an early advocate of the use of native species in the landscape, as well as a pioneer in the use of indigenous building materials in highly designed landscapes. Around here, there is no more aesthetically pleasing and useful indigenous building material than red cedar, if you ask me.
I love it's color, shape, feel, smell, and durability. Click on Jensen's name to read an interesting article about him, his philosophy, and the early resistance to focusing on native plants as preferred plants in the designed landscape. It's an interesting read, and offers up some interesting discussion topics involving native plant landscaping as well.

Don't forget about Katherine's "Walk on the Wild Side" tour in the Blomquist Garden on September 2nd. We'll see you then!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A few interesting things to mention....

Katherine and I worked at the NC State fairgrounds yesterday. The Duke Gardens has a cooperative venture there with the North Carolina Native Plant Society, in the form of a small native plant demonstration garden. This is a permanent display set among the many seasonal gardens that get built for the fair each year. We're in the process of improving and expanding our small garden, so be sure to check it out if you come to the fair this year. We look forward to seeing you there.
Also, the fifth installment of the plant ID blog from the Blomquist Garden is available now. This week's focus is on the genus Eupatorium, with five of the ten plants this week being from that group.
Finally, we've been sweating (or should I say swimming) in this ridiculous humidity this week to move ahead with the improvements to the Wildlife Garden. A new low cedar fence will edge the path and emulate the rustic design of the bridge rails in the garden. We hope to have phase one of these improvements done by the end of next week, and have the garden open for business again. See you soon!

p.s. I'm working with Google to figure out why Korean internet chat pornography folks have decided to use my blog (as well as the blogs of others) to spam info about their websites in the comment section. I keep deleting them, but each time I post a new entry, four or five new bogus comments show up. In the meantime, how about you (my two readers) add some legitimate comments to the mix ? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Hot day.. like liliputians under a hair dryer. Anyway, what's going on.... Oh yes- we had an excellent "Walk on the Wild Side" last week in the Blomquist Garden. our topic was all things related to some current renovations/improvements in the garden. We covered everything from deciding when to renovate a garden space, design considerations, opportunities for infrastructural improvements while you're tearing things up, soil building for fungi and invertebrate diversity, etc.
A number of you mentioned some thoughts about follow up info from the walk- soil building recipes, mycorrhizal fungi innoculants, and so on.... It's been a week, so I've forgotten some of the best queries. Please comment on this post with particular questions and I'll respond. Next month's tour(9/2) will be lead by Katherine Wright, the Blomquist Horticulturist. Her topic will be "How Wetlands Work", with an emphasis on ecosystem services, water quality maintenance, how different species have adapted to thrive in wetland soils, etc. Please join us! In the meantime, look for some new construction in the Blomquist Wildlife Garden beginning next week. We'll be installing some low cedar fencing along the path. The fence materials were harvested from Durham County (all Red Cedar branches) and we've been working the last month or so to turn those raw materials into attractive, functional, durable garden art. Enjoy!

p.s.- for those of you following the plant i.d. blog that Katherine is using to enhance her native plant knowledge, there is a new installment. If you have any plants you would like to see covered, or if you have photos of native plants you need help identifying, let us know through this blog and we'll see what we can do!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hello. I've been out of the office, as it were, for the last two weeks. I know the two of you found it hard to live without my periodic pearls of wisdom, so here I am! I'll be back to posting a few times a week for a while. Today, I wanted to give you a heads up about Thurday's "walk on the Wild Side" tour in the Blomquist Garden. I'll be talking about the design and construction of some improvements to the garden that have begun and will continue through the Fall. We'll discuss everything from the initial impetus for starting to think about changes, to the conceptualization and design of said changes/improvements, finally ending with a vision of how the changes/improvements will make the visitor experience in the Blomquist Garden even better. Hope to see you there!