Friday, June 26, 2009

Master Naturalist Capstone Project Completed

Today's post is going to be the story and pictures of the completion of my Master Naturalist Capstone Project, which if you remember was adding flower and fruiting plants to the Bird and Bee Study Area as a memorial tribute to a gentleman who passed away last year. Some friends and members of his family were going to help with the planting which took place last Saturday (Father's Day weekend).

So I started digging some woodland wildflowers at the residence of another Master Naturalist alumni who volunteered some of his native plants. On June 4th, we dug up wild ginger, wild columbine, white violets, and some Canada mayflowers. (They also gave me a small hackberry seedling that I still need to find a spot for in my backyard.) Because it was still weeks till the planting day, I had to keep these plants somewhere at my place that was cool, reasonably shady and close by (so I wouldn't forget to water them!) The perfect staging area turned out on the sidewalk right outside our front door.
As you can see, it got a little bit crowded once the entire collection of dug-up and purchased plants was complete!

I also was able to dig up and divide two huge hostas from my gardens. This is Hosta "Krossa Regal." It has lovely pale lavender-colored flowers on an almost 5 foot stalk.
That sucker weighed a ton! I was wishing I had a bigger wheelbarrow.

Here's the other hosta that went: Hosta "Royal Standard." This one has the most fragrant and beautiful white flowers -- again on a really tall stem.

The planting party was set to take place from 9:00-11:00 on Saturday morning, so I got up early and started loading everything into Mr. Johnson's Tahoe. Holy Cow! It didn't look like that much stuff outside! And there's no more room for the hostas!

Well, hopefully the hosta tubs will fit in the second seat.......
......and they did. It's a good thing we have this enclosed truck for transporting plants; I think they would have gotten pretty beat-up in the back of a pick-up.

I wrote the names of the plants on orange flag markers so I could stick them in the ground and people would know which plants went where. These are the main viewing windows from the nature center out towards the little pond and bird feeders. The hostas were going here. It's my hope that once they start producing those tall flowers, the flowers should come right up to the bottom of the windows and visitors will be able to get some really close looks at the hummingbirds and butterflies that come to those flowers.

This is another area that was going to get a couple of hostas, plus the jack-in-the-pulpits that I had dug up from under my deck. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see a little green square on the center frame of the window down towards the bottom. This is the entrance/exit for an indoor beehive (look at the left side of the window and those big dark squares you see inside are the actual beehive--encased in clear plexiglass so people can watch the bee activity).
Fortunately, the morning was still pretty cool so I went ahead and planted these flowers early so as not to disturb the bees too much.

Under this sign, there were a couple of wild asters to be planted (this area gets a little bit of afternoon sun). There's also a yew in the background to provide cover for the birds and a bit of color in the wintertime.

Along the backside of this little pond, we planted the wild columbines. They will grow pretty tall but won't interfere with any views of the pond. In the background is another yew to be planted and in the foreground are a couple more jack-in-the-pulpits that didn't fit in the other spot.

In the front of the pond, there was a box full of wild ginger to be planted. Wild ginger is nice and low-growing and this was a perfect spot for it because it wouldn't obscure any views of the pond from the inside viewing area.

Underneath this tree, the white violets would find a new home.

Under this window and receiving a bit of afternoon sun, were two lobelia plants: one red (cardinal flower) and one blue (Great Blue Lobelia). I hope these make it as their tall flower stems will be quite attractive to the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies here.

This is the main sign at the front of the garden. I purchased a bee balm ("Petite Delight") and two Violet Dusk Bearded Tongue (penstemon) to be planted by the sign.

And lastly, there was this sunny, south-facing part of the garden where all of the flowering/fruiting shrubs were to be planted. For this area, I purchased: 2 each of Cardinal Red Osier Dogwood, an Autumn Magic Black Chokeberry, and 2 viburnums--Blue Muffin and Emerald Triumph.

So once everything was marked, I was ready for the family to arrive and get to work. Fortunately, my teacher Kirk was the liaison with the family and he did a great job of remembering everyone's names and making sure all the equipment they needed for digging, watering, etc. was available. I was more worried about getting everything done in the allotted time and usually am more comfortable staying in the background being a "worker bee" anyway.

Once everything was planted, it was time to start watering. Here are a couple of the grandkids with their water buckets watering one of the yews.

The kids did a lot of planting of the smaller plants in the pots, but the novelty of that chore wore off as they discovered the wonders inside the nature center and also the chance to play in the pond. Here, one of the dads takes over to finish planting the wild ginger.

This little girl was so cute! She and her mom got these plants by the sign into the ground. There was a lot of fascination with the worms discovered while planting; I think that's what the little girl standing up has in her hand.

I sent the big guys up to the front to dig the big holes for the shrubs. As you can see, there were plenty of 'supervisors' out there to help them!

And here are a couple of looks at where my hostas will be enjoying their new home. I think these spots will be perfect for them!

This was a fun project for me. I created a little hand-out for the family that thanked them for allowing me the opportunity to work on this project on their behalf and for giving me the chance to improve some habitat for the birds, wildlife and insects. I included a listing of the flowers and shrubs we planted that day and also invited them to come back in the future and visit this garden planted in memory of their loved one.

The grandchildren had created stepping stones and we added them to this garden.
I had a great time planning and choosing plants for this garden and was really happy with how well the project went. I can't wait to see how beautiful it will be next spring when all of the flowers are blooming. I will be keeping an eye on this garden and will be sure to get some pictures to share with you as everything continues to grow.


Susan Gets Native said...

Native plants...those two words just get me all giddy....

I have the same wheelbarrow!

Indoor bee colony? OSSUM!!!!!!!

Mama Pea said...

Oh, Ruthie! What an awesome, HUGE amount of work you did on this!

It must be the phase of the moon or something, but by the end of your post I had tears in my eyes. What a loving way to give of yourself to this family and to so many more people who will enjoy what you did in the future.

Again, I hope all concerned know and appreciate ALL your expertise and work that went into this.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Ruthie, I'm so darn proud of you and all of the research, planning and work that you put into this project. Think how nice it will be for others to enjoy and how fun it will be for you to see it all grow over time.


Kelly said... an accomplishment. It took a lot of work and orchestration to find all of the native plants, store them, design the area...and plant it. You should be so proud. Others will enjoy it, and it will last into the future as the plants mature. Really cool!!!!

troutbirder said...

You sure did great Ruth. I only discovered Quarry Hill last summer and have now sat in the chairs looking out that window several times. Next spring, when I sit there again, I will be reminded who created the beautiful showpiece for our little friends.

KGMom said...

Ruthie--I had seen these pics on FB and was MOST impressed.
I think this capstone project is a most wonderful thing.
And what better memorial for someone. That's MY kind of memorial.

Anonymous said...

WOW! All those plantings, won't that be a place to sit and relax and watch out the window. Ruthie, you don't need a bigger wheelbarrow, you need one of those wagons with 4 wheels and really holds the poundage.


Meggie said...

What a great project, Ruthie! I hope you are happy with the results. Looks fabulous from where I'm sitting. Congrats! I'm sure the family was pleased.

dAwN said...

What a great Project for your naturalists class!
Looks like u all had lots of fun!

Gaelyn said...

Ruthie, this was a marvelous project for the family, the nature center and you. Everything looks so nice and well thought out. Great captures of the kids pitching in. At least for a little while. Congrats on a job well done.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This sounds like a Master GArdeners project Ruthie. I know the birds and bees will enjoy your efforts. Good job.

A blogging friend of mine just gave me a hunk of Krossa Regal. I hope it takes. It is a beautiful hosta. I have the other one too. I love the smell ofthese blooms.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Susan,
The whole time I was out there I was thinking to myself that I really must get some beehives going at my place next year!

Thanks Mama Pea. This was my first planting project outside of my own yard and they pretty much let me choose whatever I wanted and plant it wherever I thought was best. That was such a different experience for me. I know what I like and want in my own yard, but planning for something in a publicly viewed area and for other people was a really special experience.

Thanks Lynne. I'm looking forward to watching this garden grow.

Thanks Kelly. I loved picking out the plants at the garden centers and being able to spend someone elses money! I've dug native plants for my own yard before and it's always fun to watch them grow and spread every season.

Thanks Troutbirder. I'm new to Quarry Hill just this year because of the Master Naturalist classes. There is so much to see and do there and I'm glad it's not too far from my house. I'm on their volunteer list now, so I'll probably be showing up there regularly!

You're right Donna, these are all the same photos from my FB album. But I wanted to do this post for some of my readers who aren't on FB.
It was interesting to do this project as a memorial garden.....made me wonder about the man who died and what he was like because they chose to have him remembered here at Quarry Hill.

Hi Mom,
I'm going to tackle the garden in front of my house next.
They had some of those big wheelbarrows at Quarry Hill--that's definitely what I need!

Thanks Meggie. I think the family was pleased. My teacher was very appreciative of my efforts to. I think it was a good reflection on him as a teacher to have one of his students participate in a project like this.

Thanks Dawn. It was a nice day with perfect weather for this project.

Thanks Gaelyn. The kids were so cute--especially the one little boy. He grabbed a shovel and just started digging in. He told me he helps his dad with stuff like that all the time. The kids loved finding the worms too.

Thanks Lisa. There is a Master Gardener group here in Rochester, so someday I may have to check into their program also. I think they only require about 10 volunteer hours per year vs. the 40 hours required to maintain my Master Naturalist status.

Jayne said...

Wow Ruthie... what a wonderful project you coordinated! Such thought and care went into choosing just the right plants for just the right places, so as not to obstruct any views. I know the family had to be so touched that you did this in memory of their loved one. Can't wait to see this all established and blooming. Can I rent you out? :c)

flowerweaver said...

What a lovely project Ruthie! The photos are beautiful, I'm so glad you shared them and the story.

I found your blog from Dana's at A Cat In My Lap, as I love to knit, bird, and garden too. I'm a Master Naturalist botany instructor for my area of Texas.

I am envious it is cool enough for gardening, since it's been hovering around 106 degrees where I live.

Keep up the good work!

Heather said...

What a wonderful thing you did for this family. I'm sure they appreciated all the thought and work you put into it.

Anonymous said...

Be still, my heart...this is fabulous!!! Oh my gosh, the joy this will bring!

A truly awesome project--such a positive, enduring legacy. Regular followups, please!!!

(It's after 11pm and still in mid-80's here--hottest day of the year. Too hot to even walk the dog. I enjoyed the garden tour. Feel cooler already!)

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Jayne. I hope all the plants do well where they've been planted. One of the guys who helped plant has a landscaping and lawn service--mostly for condo associations. He told me he was really interested in the plants we were using and would like to do more with native plants but he's so busy with the lawn care he doesn't ever have a chance to do much landscaping of new yards. I hope he got some good ideas from what we did in this garden.

Hi Flowerweaver,
Welcome! Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a nice comment.
Our Master Naturalist instructors were amazing. I hope someday I will have at least half the knowledge those two guys had!
I'll try and send some cooler weather down your way--we had upper 50's this morning when I got up!

Thanks Heather. I hope they did. It will be nice to have a living memorial for their loved one.

Thanks Mary Lee. I'll be sure to post some updates when there's something good to show. It was fun that day--within 10 minutes of planting the Emerald Triumph viburnum, there were bees on the blossoms. I thought that was a really positive sign!

Mary C said...

Great job, Ruthie! I didn't realize that you could grow hostas in your area. I thought they were more of a "tropical" type of plant. It just goes to show how little I know! Now, when fall and winter arrive, do most of the plants die back and await the spring to start all over again?

Red said...

What an amazing feat you accomplished! Way to go Ruthie! That's so wonderful the family helped out like that and it was all done in one day... all due to your preparation I'm sure :) Good job!