A Mission of Conservation
July 6th, 2019 by Meredith Heroux
Smith-Gilbert Gardens has a mission to serve as a resource for conservation, education, and enjoyment of horticulture, fine arts, and historic preservation.
Our mission of conservation impacts all aspects of our operations – from butterflies to the rose garden.
When you visit the butterfly house, you may notice there seem to be fewer varieties this year. It’s not your imagination. Here’s why:
This has proven to be a difficult growing season for butterfly farmers. We are very careful to ethically source vendors, which limits the butterfly farms we use. Our primary vendor last year was completely flooded this spring and is still recovering. He is doing everything he can to re-establish the caterpillars and provide butterflies.
The Michigan farm we are now using also suffered a wet and unusually cold spring, which has impacted the survival rate. In addition, they are more limited on the types of butterflies they can send to Georgia. And, a Florida farm we’ve used in the past is dealing with disease, due to the wet spring in their area.
We expect new shipments of adult butterflies and chrysalises in the next 7-10 days.
Garden Manager Lisa Bartlett has been working with the Rose Warriors (Master Gardeners) to guide a transition from using traditional garden chemicals to organic products in the Rose Garden. They knew it would be an adjustment for the roses given Georgia’s heat, humidity, insects, and fungal challenges. They weren’t sure what to expect.
To supplement the organic fertilizers, pre-emergents, and fungicides, additional bird feeders and houses were installed around the perimeter of the lawn area. As a result, birds are constantly in the rose garden now – consuming worms, insects, and spiders. So far, they have not observed any insect damage to the plants. While they have noticed fungal disease, black spot, and powdery mildew, it is not more than previous years. Carolyn Gentry who oversees the Master Gardener group is cautiously optimistic and says the garden is looking healthy.
There are lots of blooming roses to the delight of our visitors! Earthworms have returned to the beds and they now see more honey bees foraging in the flowers.
We share this to let you know sustainable practices are an important part of our commitment to conservation.