Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Good Friday

And a very Happy Easter to our Christian friends and others.  Yes, these poppies are expressing their joy today in the raised garden next to our compost piles.   They arrived as seeds in a mix of "wildflower seeds" and were a grand surprise.

And this fine group of 12 Azaleas are resting up on our patio.  ABCS is donating them and a Texas Olive tree to Matzke Park where they will be placed in the area of the monument, as soon as park supervisor Melvin Hill gets back to work.   The funeral for his 8 month old baby boy was held on Wednesday and was a very lovely and meaningful service.  Our continued condolences and warm wishes to Melvin and his family.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Helpers Needed

This won't take long and these short events are always a good time.  Check your calendars because volunteers are needed for the fifteen sessions of the Children’s Educational Programs at the butterfly garden. There are some tentative volunteers who have signed up to help out but they had to check their calendars.

Day Care Schools have committed to April 18,19,26,29,30, fillling both the 10 & 11 AM time slots. On April 18, 9 AM is scheduled full as well.
Needed are 2 persons per each of these time slots. Schools are required to have one teacher per 7 kids so you won't be alone. Five schools have committed to coming; about 230 kids total so far. Depending on the school, kids range in age from 4-7 years.

Volunteers are needed to help with the crafts and the walk through the garden beds looking for caterpillars (we have hidden some fake ones). We give them some pictures of the plants on Popsicle sticks and ask them to find the plants and return the Popsicle stick to us.   Then we accompany the kids to the picnic tables under the awning by the parking lot where they will color half a coffee filter which we spray with starch and pinch into a clothes pin.

There are no rain dates. The supplies are in place. The kids are signed up. Your kind assistance is needed and appreciated. Please contact Joan.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Butterfly Time Again

We first posted information on the Monarch Watch Organization in some of the early blogs in the spring of 2011.  As the monarch population has had a very rough couple of years, it is timely to remind folks of that excellent organization and the fact that the Butterfly Garden is a registered Monarch Waystation # 1905... (our sign was taken down from the old fence and is in the storage shed) 

You can take a look at the description of the Matzke Park Garden on the Monarch Watch website by clicking HERE   It  also contains a few of the early pictures.

At the time it was registered, the garden had the requisite types and numbers of plants.  It might be useful to review a summarized version of the requirements as new plants are considered for the spring.  A summary of the requirements are copied at the end of this post. 

The full 4 page certification application has much more information and may be found HERE  It has a much more extensive list of desireable plants.

Other interesting links to portions of the Monarch Watch website include the following:

The Main Monarch Watch Home Site is  HERE

The Monarch Watch Blog is HERE and it shows the dramatic decrease in populations

The Community Forums are HERE

Monarch Watch on Facebook  HERE


(a summary)

If your monarch habitat meets or exceeds the general description of a Monarch Waystation set forth below, your habitat may be certified by Monarch Watch as a Monarch Waystation. Upon certification, your habitat will be included in the Monarch Waystation Registry, an online listing of Monarch Waystations worldwide, and you will be awarded a certificate bearing your name and your habitat’s unique Monarch Waystation ID number. You may also choose to purchase a weatherproof sign to display, identifying your habitat as an official Monarch Waystation. 

Size. A suitable Monarch Waystation habitat can be easily integrated with an existing garden. There is no minimum area requirement in order to certify your habitat; however, a truly effective Monarch Waystation will be at least 100 square feet. The total area may be split among several sites at your location and there is no upper limit for the size of a Monarch Waystation habitat. 

Exposure. Butterflies and butterfly plants need lots of sun; therefore, Monarch Waystations need to be located in an area that receives at least six hours of sun a day. 

Drainage and Soil Type. Milkweeds and nectar plants will do best in relatively light (low-clay) soils.  Good drainage is needed to avoid root rot and provide good aeration of the roots.
Shelter. To assure that the maximum number of monarchs survive in your habitat, the plants should be relatively close together. However, they should not be crowded – be sure to follow the planting guides specific to each plant. All monarch life stages need shelter from predators and the elements. Planting milkweeds and nectar plants close together contributes to this shelter for monarchs and other wildlife.

Milkweed Plants. To maximize the utilization of your habitat by monarchs, it is desirable to include a number of milkweed species. It is best to have at least 10 plants, made up of two or more species; however, a large number of plants (more than 10) of one species is sufficient. Milkweeds of different species mature and flower at different times during the season. By increasing the number of milkweed species in your habitat you will increase the likelihood that monarchs will utilize your property for a longer period during the breeding season. 

Nectar Plants. Monarchs, other butterflies, and numerous pollinators need nectar. By providing
nectar sources that bloom sequentially or continuously during the season (as many butterfly plants do) your Monarch Waystation can provide resources for monarchs throughout the breeding season and the migration in the fall. A Monarch Waystation should contain at least 4 annual, biennial, or perennial plants that provide nectar for butterflies. 

Management. You should have a plan to sustain a Monarch Waystation. Specific actions you take will depend on the features of your habitat; however, some general examples include mulching, thinning, fertilizing, amending the soil, removing dead stalks, watering, eliminating insecticide use, removing invasive plant species, and incorporating additional features.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Major Plant Sale

From palms to peppers and petunias.... the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens  is having its once a year "March Mart" plant sale at the end of this week.  Volunteers spent today in the sun placing price and information tags in each of the thousands of plants that go on sale Thursday.

Here we have Love2Plant setting up her "Children's Corner" where a special selection of dwarf vegetable plants are on display; suitable for container gardening.. we will be hosting that on Thurs and Friday.

Mercer members get first pick on Thursday March 21st from 8:00 to 2:00 which is "Members Only Day".  You can become a Mercer Society member with an inexpensive sign-up on Thursday if you choose.  "Regular Folk" can shop Friday from 8:00 to 4:00 and Saturday from 8:00 to 2:00.   Membership also gets you a 10% discount at a number of garden related businesses like Plants for All Seasons as well as discount coupons for the plant sale... check out the many benefits HERE .  If you choose to join, you can sign up at the info booth when you arrive.  It will likley pay for your plants.

Bring your own wagon or borrow one when you arrive by leaving your drivers license hostage.

From Norchester we like to get to Mercer by taking Louetta as far as it will go until you turn right (south) on Aldine Westfield just after passing under the Hardy Toll Road . Then it is just a few miles south to Mercer.. parking on the right side of Aldine Westfield.