Mar 31st, 2012

Preserving the Pitcher Plants & Restoring the Ecosystem

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden 

West Island Garden Restoration project construction nearing completion.

West Island Garden Restoration project construction nearing completion.

You may have noticed in the midst of  A Million Blooms this spring  that we are also working on a construction project at the Garden: the Martha and Reed West “Island Garden” restoration.  In busy blooming time, it’s easy to focus on the new blossoms each day,  the many  discoveries  in the Children’s Garden and the planning and planting of our Community Kitchen Garden.  It’s not that we don’t think talking about the construction is important — it is. But sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in the beauty and excitement of each day, that I momentarily forget about the planning and strategic forethought that  my colleagues here at the Garden weigh so carefully. Planning for the future, in fact, is one of the many strengths of the Garden staff.  While we remember to savor the moment of the beauty that is before us — we are gardeners after all — we are also always planning and dreaming about the future.

You may have caught a tweet from earlier this spring  about how often as I walked by the construction site, I noticed the workmen really enjoying their surroundings. One construction worker in particular made me smile as he talked about missing this beautiful place when the project was complete –so much so that he hoped to purchase a family membership so he could bring his grandbabies back to the Garden every chance he got.  My heart flickered with sweet happiness when he told me that. Ah, but I’m getting distracted again. Back to the construction….

I want to tell you what we’ve been up to in the Martha and Reed West Island Garden and why. For some time, we’ve noticed that the weir (dam) that would allow us to control how wet the “feet” of the plants in this garden get was not working the way it was intended. Years of erosion along with sediment build-up in Syndor Lake and the surrounding lakes had taken their toll on the ecosystem.  Our beloved pitcher plant (Sarracenia) collection was in danger. Plus, the wooden walkways were in need of repair.

So, we embarked on this ambitous project which included shoring up the islands, clearing out mucky sediment from the bottom of the lakes (don’t worry, we’re composting it), replacing the wooden walkways with eco-friendly Trex — made from 50 percent recycled plastic and 50 percent recycled wood.

We were met with a pleasant surprise this week when we were told that the construction company, Hourigan Construction,  would finish nearly 2 weeks early — on April 6 (give or take a day) — just in time for our family Easter Weekend with Peter Rabbit.

I’m really looking forward to enjoying the newly restored West Island Garden and can’t wait to see the Sarracenia collection (the pitcher plants) in their full splendor this summer as they finally will have the ideal conditions again in which to grow and flourish. … And, if we’ve added a family Garden membership or two of construction workers who just couldn’t say goodbye to this magical place, I’ll consider that a double success.


Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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