Wednesday, February 15, 2017

MONARCH NURSERY AT THE CARRIAGE TRAIL

Seeds were planted for Kanawha Garden Club's Pollinator Project nearly three years ago.  Garden Club of America (GCA) has long been concerned with the decline of habit, pollinators, the use of pesticides and other related topics.  Pollinators in Peril: The Challenge was issued as a result. 

Garden Clubs and Individuals CAN and DO make a difference.  GCA provided a list of five things that can be done in your own backyard.
1. Eliminate or reduce the use of pesticides in your garden.   Do No Harm!  Use pesticides only if needed, read labels, apply carefully if needed and avoid neonicotinoids. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension).  You can also ask at your local nursery where their plants are from and buy only from reputable sources that have not been pretreated with neonicotinoids.
2.  Plant for bees and butterflies.  Check with your local & state DNR and native plants societies for plants specific to your area. Lots of sites exist - a few other sites that include lists are The Pollinator Partnership, The Xerces Society and Gardens with Wings (enter your zipcode to find a list of butterflies for your area and the plants that will attract them.
3.  Become involved in your community. Visit your local parks, public gardens and median strips.  Work with your city or park department to avoid pesticides (Charleston Public Grounds is very good!)  Becoming involved ties in with #4 &#5.
4.  Encourage your club to have a pollinator project.  See the description below for our Pollinator Projects.
5.  Plan a program for a garden club about Pollinators.

As GCA challenges us, we also challenge you to make a difference - beginning in your own backyard.  Collectively we can all help.

Kanawha Garden Club first took up the Pollinator Challenge by planting milkweed seeds through our Horticulture Committee.  In March, 2015 our group planted seeds of several different varieties of milkweed native to our area (see Marvelous Milkweeds to Help Save our Monarchs on our blog Sprouts).  By June, 2015 we had several dozen pots of milkweeds to distribute to our membership.  You can follow the progress of these plants on that blog.

August of 2015 our Conservation Committee decided to approach our club and The Carriage Trail to create a milkweed/monarch specific garden The Carriage Trail.  The trail is described below and is a tremendously popular walking trail.  It is listed as a National Recreational Trail. (This site is a great reference site for trails you may want to visit while on vacation)  This project is also described on our blog, Sprouts.http://wvsprouts.blogspot.com/2016/06/pollinators-in-peril-our-pollinator.html and copied below is part of that post. 
"The Sunrise Carriage Trail gently zigzags 0.65 mile and descends 180 feet from the Sunrise Mansion located at 746 Myrtle Road to Justice Row, which is adjacent to the south end of the Southside Bridge. The Trail property is a peaceful and varied landscape of towering trees, wildflowers, ornamental plantings, and historic masonry remains. The Carriage Trail was originally constructed in approximately 1905 by former Governor William A. MacCorkle for the use of oxen-drawn wagons carrying massive stone building materials for the Mansion. Later, Governor MacCorkle used the Trail for his horse-drawn carriage"
An add-on to the trail was the acquisition of Justice Row made possible by a gift from the Hess brothers.  Justice Row was formerly a short spur road with several very small buildings that served originally as offices for local Justices of the Peace.  These were demolished many years ago and the property was acquired and added on to the trail.

At the end of the property there is a small parking area and just beyond that an area approximately 15x15 that receives enough daily sun to host a monarch garden.  In the fall of 2015, our Conservation Committee proposed the establishment of a Monarch Garden.  Accepted by both our board and The Carriage Trail, trays of plants of three varieties of milkweeds were reserved through Prairie Moon.


Monarch Waystation sign.
Your garden can be certified through
MonarchWatch.org
We ordered Asclepias sullivantii, Asclepias incarnata and Asclepias tuberosa.  Plants were received in May, 2016 and on June 1 members of our Conservation Committee as well as members of The Carriage Trail installed the plants.  National Park quality signage was installed in September and October we received recognition as an official Monarch Waystation.  The milkweeds loved the site and showed tremendous growth.  No monarch eggs and caterpillars were sighted - a major disappointment but we are hopeful that they will find our garden next year! 

The proposed site.  To the left is a rock cliff, on the right behind the
 fence are train tracks. A parking lot for The Carriage Trail is in front of
the large rock.  The area is approx. 15x15. The City of Charleston helped
clear and prepare the site and partnered with us throughout the summer.
 
        

 
The photo above on the left shows our June planting party; the one on the right growth by late August.
 
 
 
 
 
Above is our 'Monarch Nursery Garden signage that will educate the public about the importance of milkweed in monarch habitat and migration.
 
Waiting now for late spring 2017 emergence of the milkweeds! 



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