Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Congratulations  -  Norchester Garden Club celebrates 45 years of friendship and gardening

Thursday, September 21, 2017

New visitor

Today a lady from Charlottesville,  VA stopped by the garden. She is a Master Gardener and she was very impressed.  There is usually a nice breeze and it is very relaxing just to sit and enjoy the butterflies.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How the Garden Grows

Yes, another post on the status of the garden weed and maintenance issue.  
The Ladies of Norchester Garden Club decided they needed to hire help to weed the beds at Matzke Park Butterfly Garden. The beds quickly become overgrown. 

It's a daunting task to weed either end of the Matzke Butterfly Garden fence line.  Once again, thanks to Ms. Joan, The Three Amigos Landscape crew undertook the challenge. They were not concerned with fire ants, vines and long grasses. We are hoping that we can engage their services more regularly to help maintain the fence line bed in particular.   

This is an excerpt from the email we received last night.....

Two men came and hand pulled the fence bed. Finished and then pulled in the Murphy bed and a bit in the Butler bed and very little in the Castellani bed.  Did a nice clean up. At the end of the fence bed by the water fountain where that tree was smothered in passion vines they got a ladder and cut out some of the branches of that tree .   The passion vine was so wrapped around they tried and tried and could not get it pulled out. I sat on the bench and watched the hundreds of butterflies feasting on that purple bush.  Is that purple bush a salvia?. (Yes it is)  The lady returned with some more monarch caterpillars and she and her little boy put them on butterfly weed in the Butler bed. (See the previous post from Sep 5) Fantastic to be out in such weather. 

If you can't or don't like to get your hands dirty, you can still do your part. It is a simple thing.  Please register your card for the Kroger's Rewards program to help us pay for landscapers to help maintain the garden beds.  Register for the charity number 82607.  It is with Association for Better Community Schools (ABCS) and all of the proceeds are given to the Garden Club Treasurer. If the Norchester Garden Club will no longer maintain the butterfly garden then Pct 4 has said it will be torn down and converted to just grassy area.  The precinct does not have resources and the budget to maintain a garden.

These pictures are from Monday, Sept 11.  In addition to weeds, there are many fine butterflies .

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Constant Weeds

Yup... The garden liked the rains, as did the weeds in the garden,
come heck or high water.  We owe a big "Thank You" to the tireless ladies who showed up again to do their best to keep the garden beds presentable.  Joan, Janet, and Carol were there this morning; mosquitoes be darned. 

This is a nice story reported by Ms. Joan... there are still many who appreciate this fine addition to Matzke Park and our community.

A lady came by with 20 monarch caterpillars in a cage looking for milkweed plants for them to feed on. Apparently she and some neighbors were concerned that prior to the storm the butterfly plants had been stripped of their leaves. So, in order that they would have some food, she slices up cucumbers into small pieces leaving on the green skin and the caterpillars will eat that. She and all the little kids and their moms did find the butterfly weed in the middle bed. I was over in the fence bed and I think there are  young plants coming up. She comes down to Matzke from around Northgate on 249.  Her husband has built a cage for them to hang the chrysalises on. Her little son was about 4 and she is originally from a suburb of Philadelphia. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Kroger SignUp.. Again

It is again, the time of year when you need to "re-sign-up" with Kroger Rewards program in order to support the Butterfly Garden.  You may have noticed the the instructions for this annual task may be found by looking at the right hand column on our Garden Blog..  See the Kroger Logo.. That info stays there all the time as a "Featured Post"..  It describes how to create a digital account (where you can get digital coupons) as well as how to register, or re-register to support the Garden.
You need a digital account to register your card for the garden support.

Assuming you already have a digital account... here is all you need to do
         Sign into your Kroger Digital Account   www.kroger.com
  1. ·        Select ‘My Account’.
  2. ·        Scroll down to the ‘Community Rewards’ section of your account page.
  3. ·        Select ‘Enroll Now’ or ‘Edit’.
  4. ·        Enter the number of the organization that you wish to support.
                 Ours is 
    82607  Association for Better Community Schools (ABCS)
  5. ·        Select it and click on ‘Save’.

You are now registered for another year.

You can tell if your signup is active and current by checking the very end of your Kroger Grocery Receipt.  If all is well, it will say you are linked to Association for Better Community Schools.

Kroger sends a check, three times each year to ABCS, which then sends it on to the Garden Club Treasurer .   With only 5 or 6 loyal gardeners signed up this past year, the checks have been for  $33.51,  $44.56, and $39.53.    Every little bit helps.   Please sign up and renew each year and remind your friends and family. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Have You Seen The Garden?

Yup... it is HOT outside.  But that is no reason to not stop by the Matzke Park Butterfly Garden every once in awhile.  Here are some pictures taken the early morning of Aug 16, 2017.

A few of the beds are very nicely kept .....  


And despite the heat, three of the Garden Club Ladies have been working to clean up, prune back, and generally revitalize the others.

It is a very peaceful and enjoyable spot to have a McDonald's lunch or just a bottle of water while you sit on the shaded benches in the ever present breeze. The butterflies are out in full force; monarchs and gulf fritteraries.  We miss the great old tree just behind the gazebo, but overall, the Butterfly Garden is well worth a visit. 

The garden is now in its 11th year.  In the coming few weeks, we will post a link here for a 16 minute slide show video that displays the garden's development from a bare patch in 2007 to what it is today.  In the meantime, stop by and see for yourself

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sod Web Worms Arrive Again

This is a useful article on these yard-destroying bugs that are, once again, prevalent in the Norchester area.

Sod Webworm Control in Gulf Coast Lawns

Edited by Marv Keenan, Ph.D., Retired Entomologist & Master Gardener Carol Brouwer, Ph.D., County Extension Agent – Horticulture 
There are several genera of sod webworms in Texas.  The native species in the genus Crambus are widespread, whereas the tropical sod webworm, Herpetogramma phaeopteralis is less cold tolerant, thus is confined to areas along the Gulf Coast. The tropical sod webworm has caused extensive damage to St. Augustine lawns in the Houston area.  The adult moths are similar in size with ¾” (20mm) wingspread, but differ in that the Crambus sp. Fold the wings around the body at rest, the tropicals spread their wings, giving a triangular appearance.  The adult Crambus vary in color from white to gray, the tropicals are a dull brown.
The slender caterpillars of both groups reach ¾” in length, usually light green from the grass consumed, with numerous raised dark spots in rows along the length of the body.  They differ in their feeding habits with the Crambus severing the leaves, then consuming these on the ground or in silken tunnels in the thatch; the tropicals feed on the leaves while attached.  Both groups feed primarily at night. 
Sod webworms spend the winter months as partially grown larvae, several inches below the soil surface. During spring, the larvae mature and transform into the adult moth stage. After mating, the moths deposit eggs that hatch in about one week. The young, developing larvae may feed for one to two weeks before transformation to the pupal and adult stages. Two or three generations may be completed within a year.
Tropical sod webworm Moth, Herpetogramma phaeopteralis Guenée (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), adult. Photo by G. McIlveen, Jr.


Sod webworm larvae feed primarily at night and prefer areas in lawns that are hot and dry during daylight hours. As a result, steep slopes, banks and other areas difficult to water properly are subject to larval damage. Heavily shaded areas are seldom attacked by the larvae.
During the summer months, sod webworm larvae live on the soil surface in silken tunnels constructed in the thatch of' the grass. Lawn damage occurs as the larvae chew off grass blades and retreat into their protective silken tunnels to consume the foliage. Injury first appears as small brown patches of closely clipped grass. Lawns are particularly susceptible to larval damage during the months of July and August when the temperatures are hot and lawns are not growing vigorously. Large lawn areas may be damaged rapidly if controls are not applied.
Control Measures
The need for sod webworm control can be determined by close examination of the grass and thatch. If three to four sod webworm larvae are found within a 6-inch-square section of dying sod, then chemical treatment is recommended. Larvae are most active on cloudy days or at night.Insecticides can be applied in either spray or granular form. Spray solutions can be applied with a garden hose sprayer or compressed air sprayer. Apply at least 15 to 25 gallons of insecticide-water solution to 1,000 square feet of grass. Watering the lawn before application will aid penetration into the turf.  If the damage is from the tropical sod webworm, a liquid spray applied to the leaves is suggested. 
Granular insecticides are easier to use and generally provide more thorough coverage. This type o£ insecticide can be applied with a fertilizer spreader. Following application, the lawn should be watered for about an hour to wash the granules into the matted turf. Use insecticides containing acephate (Orthene®), bendiocarb (Dycarb® or Turcam®), carbaryl (Sevin®), or the microbial insectices Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. Kurstake (B.t.k.) and ssp. Aizawai (B.t.a).
The microbial insecticides are specific for caterpillars thus do hot harm non-target arthropods or animals.  Consult the directions given on the container label to determine the approved rate of insecticide application.
Sod Web Worm  .  Caterpillar. Photo by G. McIlveen, Jr. 

Note... many other articles stress using a combination of a hose end liquid insecticide and a granular. Sod webworms and cutworms are both readily controlled by most liquid insecticides approved for turfgrass — bifenthrin, malathion or any of the synthetic pyrethroids or carbamates out there. However, these are short-residual materials, and repeat applications are required to control the next generation. Just as in controlling chinch bugs, three applications of liquid insecticide spread over two weeks usually does a great job of breaking the egg cycle. The eggs hatch in 7-10 days. 

Children and pets should be kept off treated turf until insecticide has been watered and turf has dried. Follow directions on insecticide labels and observe all safety precautions. Pesticides should be stored out of reach of children and pets.
Suggested pesticides must be registered and labeled for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Department of Agriculture. The status of pesticide label clearances is subject to change, and may have changed since this publication was printed. County Extension agents and appropriate specialists are advised of changes as they occur 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Our Patriotic Gardeners

The Norchester 4th of July Parade offered an opportunity these fine Norchester Garden Club ladies couldn't pass up... celebrating our Nation's birthday with some style and music... 

Friday, April 28, 2017

58 Day Care Children will participate in a Monarch Butterfly Program at Matzke Park this Spring

The Norchester Garden Club ladies are presenting  a Monarch Butterfly Program at Matzke Park's Butterfly Garden this Spring to 58 Day Care Children. Meda and Joan provide a story, plant identification  and craft to small groups each year.

Participants in the Kroger Reward Programs have resulted in $255 dollars that help continue this program and also support the maintenence of the Matzke Park Butterfly Garden.

The Norchester Garden Club Ladies also sponsor a yearly photo and drawing contest for day care children and school children. See previous posts for details.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Garden Update

The garden club has been a part of Matzke Park for a very long time.  We began the development just over 10 years ago.  Today I stopped by the garden.  Most of our membership, like myself, has aged with the garden and a few of us can't provide for all the gardening needs at the park.  Most of the beds look well tended and colorful.  Other beds are filled with grass, weeds and vines.  Thank goodness Meda and Joan continue to provide education to day care children! 

 I am suggesting we consider hiring someone to come once a month to help with weeding as our own efforts to weed and trim are quickly overwritten with more weeds.  Please remember that if the garden club does not maintain the garden the county will take control and make that area easier for them to maintain. 

I am not asking our garden club members to do the physical work but it is important to have ladies support the garden and to be a part of the team with ideas and suggestions on continued maintenance.  Here is a reminder of some early posts on this blog from years past.  The Goals for the Garden have remained the same

February 18, 2011

History of Matzke Park   

     This 20-acre green space has been a vital part of the community since the early 1960s. Its transformation into a park is an example of what can happen when public officials, local businesses, and private citizens work together for the good of the community.
     When the owner of the property, the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District (CFISD), put it up for sale in 1994, area residents joined together to establish the Association for Better Community Schools (ABCS), a nonprofit organization devoted to saving the land as a community park. ABCS’s first action was to contact the area’s Harris County commissioner, Jerry Eversole, who worked diligently with ABCS to secure a plan that would keep the property as a recreational space.
     Commissioner Eversole committed $2 million to purchase the land from CFISD in 1999 and $200,000 in matching funds to assist ABCS with the development costs. A $100,000 donation to ABCS from Compaq Computer in 1997 helped the organization raise more than $300,000 toward the park’s development, which includes the Butterfly Garden and the Be An Angel barrier-free playground.
     A monument is being erected here to give recognition to the area residents whose volunteer time and donations assisted Harris County Precinct 4 in creating this community park. Special gratitude and thanks go to Tracy Torma, ABCS president, and the ABCS Board of Directors: Carol Bennett, Margaret Buchanan, Joan Fitzgerald, Susan Greenwade, Maura Hanlon, Martin Heemer, Paul Herman, and Kathy Reagle. Their vision and hard work preserved this park for generations to enjoy.

February 16, 2011

History of Garden Development

     Thoughts and plans for this garden began in 1995 when an organization, The Association for Better Community Schools (ABCS), was formed to save the undeveloped property at the corner of Jones Rd. and Grant Rd. from becoming a strip mall. This 20 acres of mostly vacant field has a number of very old pine and oak trees. Over a number of years ABCS raised funds and worked with Harris County to purchase it from the Cy-Fair school district. The field was used for soccer with minimal maintenance until park development began in June of 2006 with a parking lot and restrooms.
      In 2000, Norchester Garden Club led a fundraiser to provide seed money, and initial plans were developed for a Butterfly Garden at the southwest end of the area.. An auction was held and $1750 was raised. (Garden Development then went on hold until 2007 when Precinct 4 installed water lines for us.)
                                                 In September 2006, Carol Bennett became Project Leader for the garden project and at that time drew up the garden plan seen here. She worked with Precinct 4 and Mercer Arboretum to complete plans for a Butterfly Garden and Learning Center. The initial two beds grew into three more raised beds. Fencing, benches and a gazebo were also added.
     The garden is a result of many individuals and businesses donating money, materials, and labor. We received a generous gift for 2/3 of the cost of the gazebo, with ABCS making up the remaining third. The gazebo provides much needed shade, weather protection and a wonderful view of the garden. Our sign honors those contributing $500 or more towards the garden. It was constructed with the help of the Precinct 4 Parks Department. Invested in this project, as of December 2010, is $47,336 which came from grants, in-kind donations, gift cards and cash from community individuals and businesses. It does not include the donated labor required to refresh and maintain it.
     The garden has been accepted as a Monarch Waystation. We are number 1905 on the international and national register. Waystation certification has requirements that include sun exposure, drainage and soil types, shelter and density of planting, (shelter for all life stages), number of milkweed plants and nectar plants with sustainable management practices. Bleyl Junior High has a Monarch Butterfly Program for its students and release tagged Monarchs. Matzke Elementary School, just to the south, has brought their kindergarten and 2nd grade students to observe the butterflies. On nice days, teachers bring their students to enjoy the garden. We also have local people raising monarchs for release here.

Goals for the Garden:
  • Create a beautiful respite for walkers, joggers and students
  • Create a garden designed to attract and nurture Monarch Butterflies
  • Provide a learning opportunity for the community and students
  • Involve the surrounding community in building and maintaining it

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Learning Opportunity - PreSchool Children

Matzke Park Butterfly Garden and Learning Center    

      We invite your Day-Care classes for ages 4-7 to a free forty-five minute program on the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly.

A Butterfly Garden Program
                        Presented by
            Norchester Garden Club
Each class lasts 45 minutes: A story in the Gazebo by Catherine the Caterpillar; a guided walk in the garden to identify plants and perhaps find a feeding caterpillar; a short craft. Two teachers must accompany each group of seven children.

Reservations Required. Times : 9:00 am,  10:00 am,  11:00 am

Deadline for making reservations is April 17, 2017 noon.      
Reserve by email:     jyfitzgerald@comcast.net       Phone: 281-469-3173  
I have caller ID so please identify yourself when calling

Available Dates:
April 24, Monday  9:00, 10:00, 11:00
April 25, Tuesday  9:00, 10:00, 11:00
May 2, Tuesday     9:00, 10:00, 11:00
May 5, Friday        9:00, 10:00, 11:00

After you have made a reservation I will send you a required release form to be returned to me with the names of the teachers who will be bringing the children. There will be no rain date.

Matzke Park Entrance is on Jones Road, opposite McDonalds. The garden is beyond the building. There is a large playground structure near the garden. There are benches and picnic tables near the garden as well as rest rooms in the building.

Norchester Garden Club is a 501 C3 organization, and any contribution is tax deductible. Please visit the Butterfly Garden Blog:  www.matzkebutterflygarden.blogspot.com  
or email:  abcs.park@att.net