Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pollinators In Peril: Our Pollinator Projects

Last year our club tackled the GCA's Pollinators in Peril challenge in several different ways.

We worked through our Hort Committee and propagated several varieties of milkweeds.  You may read about these by browsing the 2015 posts on milkweeds.  A new post from May 27 titled 'May and our Milkweeds' gives updates on this project.  We will continually update this post throughout the summer and post comments that will be sent to those of you who follow our blog.  If you have not subscribed to get our updates, just scroll to the bottom of any of our pages and submit your email address to follow. 
In addition to the seed propagation a few of us planted milkweed plants also obtained from Prairie Moon Nursery.  We ordered flats of 38 plants and put in our gardens in the spring of 2015.  As these were young plants, many did not flower.  They did, however, bring caterpillars.  I have about a dozen plants and had close to two dozen caterpillars.  We brought one caterpillar inside, put in a container with a screen on the top and within 24 hours the chyrsallis formed and then emerged a few weeks later.  Another friend, Lynn,  had great success.  This year those plants are flourishing. Milkweeds are slow to break dormancy here.  Daily checks finally showed tiny red sprouts breaking through.  The plants have grown rapidly and some are now over two feet tall in my yard.  They are producing blooms already so we are anticipating many more monarchs this fall. 

Lynn's plants spring of 2016 - great growth and bloom!

Lynn May 11
Lynn May 23

Lynn May 27 in bloom!

Sara's plants and monarch from fall 2015!

Lots of caterpillars on one tiny plant.
How many can you see?
Caterpillar just about
the right size to bring in.
Within 24 hours the chrysalis formed.
Chrysallis was given to Anna to
babysit while I was on vacation.
Close to emerging.

Photograph by Anna Forbes
 Our third Pollinator Project involved a partnership with The Carriage Trail.  The trail is described below and is a tremendously popular walking trail.  It is listed as a National Recreational Trail.
"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.  We ordered Asclepias sullivantii, Asclepias incarnata and Asclepias tuberosa.  We received our plants in May, 2016 and on June 1 members of our Conservation Committee as well as members of The Carriage Trail installed the plants.  Future plans include signage explaining the importance of milkweeds in the life cycle of monarchs and the establishment of a Monarch Waystation.

Newly planted site June 2016
Site in summer 2015.
Approximately 15x15 with lots of
sun.  The site was cleared and prepared
with help from The Carriage Trail and
the City of Charleston.

Carriage Trail and Kanawha GC
members after planting.

Popping the plants out of trays and placing
on the site.

Carriage Trail & City of Charleston
with the watering truck.
An additional tray of plants was provided to the City of Charleston Stormwater Department and planted in a dry creek bed educational project in downtown Charleston.

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