Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fall Gardens……cut down or keep?

Michele K. Koskinen

Fall is here and the gardens are going to sleep for the winter. Do you clean everything up or wait for spring?

Gardeners usually fall into several categories for cleanup. Edible gardens are usually cleaned up and prepared for early planting or overwintering.
Perennial gardens such as the Pollinator Garden provides a lively discussion many gardeners have with themselves and others.

There is always a struggle between what we read and our personal preference. Are you a gardener that says

         I have to have a clean tidy garden for winter cut to the appropriate height at the correct time, dead head seeds and have a pristine space.
          Or   I leave the seed heads and grasses for winter focus but clean everything else pristine.
          Or   The birds and insects could use some sustenance, and cover I will just let everything be wild looking and wait until spring.

I offer a challenge to all of us to look at our gardens through a different lens. Rid our gardens of disease and other harmful dead foliage, tidy a bit but think,  do I have anything that may fall in the 3rd category. Should I try a different way of putting the garden to bed?


For your reading pleasure……
Houzz why not to "Clean Up" you garden

Two pretty views from the garden
Amsonia and Sedum by H Goldstein
Amsonia and Aster by H Goldstein

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Supporting a Local Elementary School on Green Apple Day

On October 11th, Master Gardeners Howard Goldstein and Karen Melton joined the Cook-Wissahickon Elementary school in Roxborough for their 3rd annual Green Apple Day of Service.

The Cook-Wissahickon school has a strong environmental focus and has created a native plant meadow, reduced energy usage, provides recycling drop off for neighbors, and plans to extend the native plantings and replace blacktop with porous materials in the future.

The half day event included Howard and Karen's favorite books and photos and a presentation on the importance of native plants in supporting pollinators and birds, as well as the many other benefits derived from a native meadow such as outdoor classroom opportunities for the children and storm water management for the neighborhood.

In addition there was a red worm composting demonstration, a workshop to construct hanging planters out of used bottles, information on watershed management, and of course, lots of food!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pollinator-Friendly Raised Bed at the Free Library's Thomas F. Donatucci Sr. Branch

Stephanie Rukowicz

Thomas F. Donatucci Sr. Free Library Branch at 20th & Shunk.
Nestled in the Girard Estates neighborhood of South Philly, the Thomas F. Donatucci Sr. Free Library Branch boasts a garden open to the public Spring through Fall. The Branch Manager, David Mariscotti, encourages the community to enjoy the grounds in reading books, bringing picnics, or just enjoying the fresh air. As one of his many responsibilities, David works with the Free Library's sole gardener and a few dedicated volunteers to maintain the landscaping. To encourage future generations to tend garden, David connected with Marj Rosenblum and together they generated the idea of a Pollinator-Friendly Garden workshop for children and their families.  

Marj and I worked with David to plan the workshop that took place on May 17th earlier this year. Part 1 featured a presentation on why pollinators are important, how pollination happens, and how to encourage pollinators to visit our gardens. During the presentation, we were pleased to meet a young student, named Sophia, whose school curriculum included work on pollinators! She had much to share with the group on what she was learning in class.

The workshop continued outside with Part 2, where we installed a 4'x8' raised bed, planted with nectar-rich annuals such as zinnia; perennials such as columbine, coneflower, goldenrod; as well as butterfly-specific hosts such as milkweed (Monarch), parsley and dill (Black Swallowtail). Of course this was the group's favorite part, and there was much discussion over who got to plant what.
All hands on deck! Master Gardeners-in-Training Marj and Stephanie work with support from the Children's Librarian to instruct attendees and their guardians how to plant and select placement.

Families were encouraged to check out one of the many resources on pollinators found at the Donatucci Branch, and each child left with a plant to include in their home garden.
A satisfied workshop participant with her plant, joined by her father, and Master Gardener-in-Training Marj.

This small raised bed contributes to the large garden that already existed at the Branch. Among the many trees and plants found on the property there are native oaks, dogwoods, Black-eyed Susan and Purple coneflower. Now that Fall is upon us, we will take advantage of the perfect time of year to transplant in additional native perennials to attract more pollinators and to fill in the gaps where annuals won't return next year.
Pollinator-Friendly raised bed in the Fall. Zinnia, Goldenrod, Cosmos, and Calamintha are currently in bloom.

Pollinator gathering Goldenrod nectar.