November 20, 2014
Bringing Nature Home + Oak Hill Elementary
One of gardening’s biggest thrills is growing food for friends, like beleaguered Monarch butterflies, here on Conoclinium coelestinum.
Isn’t this just gorgeous? It’s also bountiful with lots of grateful creatures on the firebush, Conoclinium and Mexican bauhinia.
Red Admiral tucked into fall-blooming Mexican bauhinia.
In winter, annual pansies, snapdragons and calendulas (not pictured) feed bees and butterflies that show up hungry on those warm days we always get. Great container plants too! Those background pentas may be frozen after this week, so replace with more cold weather plants.
We’ve got to accept some chomping since the little guys have to eat, too! Here’s a Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar merrily dining on pipevine. The plant will recover and the adults will stick around to nectar and lay more eggs.
Make a mini spa for male butterflies who like to puddle around and soak up salts in the decomposed granite we’ve all got handy.
Beautifully photographed where Doug’s personal stories mingle with illuminating (and sometimes scary) facts, Bringing Nature Home makes a powerful statement about the damage we wreak on our future with exotic plants, especially invasives.
At the same time, Doug Tallamy encourages us with simple ideas, including lists of host plants and plants by region like winecup, which we can plant now.
Our food crops, like okra, support wildlife through their flowers. Viewer Picture goes to Grow Where You’re Planted Andrea Fox, ASLA, of transplant studio, College Station. Isn’t this wreath a charming way to use okra stalks when the harvest is over?
A warm weather herb for next spring: borage, Daphne’s Plant of the Week. Along with lovely texture, this annual herb’s young leaves perk up salads and beverages with a cucumber taste. Best yet, charming lavender flowers bring on the bees to pollinate your summer crops.
On tour, this garden’s got it all: wildlife plants, pond, hand-made bird houses, vegetables and even an orchard. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really a ton of fun for its caretakers: the Gardening Club at Oak Hill Elementary.
After school twice a week, teacher Paul Cumings, former teacher Sue Lagerquist and parent volunteers pass along adventures in food, wildlife habitat and conservation.
This student documented plant info on his tablet. Great reference tool!
The students really turned things around with a drought defiant perennial wildlife garden right out front.
On a scrappy patch of turf at the bus stop, they dug out Bermuda grass for a butterfly garden that fascinates everybody.
Things might slow down a bit on route when the children spy a chrysalis on the fence or butterflies floating among the flowers.
In their pottery class, Gardening Club made water dishes to give little critters a drink.
Building bird houses (22 of them, for different birds) really made a hit, since what kid doesn’t have fun with a hammer and paint? They’re hoping to raise money to install web cameras inside to see who shows up.
Gardening Club students voted on the design for the vegetable gardens they built. Each semester they renew them with compost and seasonal plants.
With seed donations from local nurseries, they’ve even ventured into new tastes, like arugula.
In their commitment to wildlife habitat, they add native flowers that encourage pollinators to stick around to help with the squash.
A super important lesson the kids are learning: why we grow without pesticides. “It’s about as organic as it gets here. You do see lots of bugs munching on vegetables, but it’s not just for human consumption, we’re trying to support the whole ecosystem,” notes Paul Cumings.
In 2013, 5th grader Ian McKenna wrote and received a grant as seed money for the Giving Garden to help feed families.
Gardening Club students also feel a lot of pride in beautifying their school grounds.
After watching their energetic weeding, I simply had to jump in!
Meet them all now right now!
Thanks for stopping by. See you next week, Linda