Dec 31st, 2014

Winter Work: 30-degrees & Garden Tricks

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

gardeners in front of the Conservatory working on mulch ring

Horticulturist Leah Purdy & gardener Chris Brown getting crafty with expanding the mulch bed for the overcup oaks.

On my walk into the office this morning I was having trouble staying warm.  It was only 30 degrees — but for an office-dweller like me, it seemed frigid. My hands were so cold they wouldn’t work properly and I was having trouble taking photos with my phone.   I noticed a buggy piled high with cardboard just ahead. For a minute I though, it’s too cold to even go find out what’s going on over there, but then I reconsidered, thinking about my coworkers who work outside each day, regardless of the heat or cold (and sometimes rain!). Horticulturist Leah Purdy and gardener Chris Brown were working together to expand the mulch rings on the overcup oaks (Quercus lyrata) in the Central Garden, in front of the Conservatory.

It was a neat project and I was marveling at their ingenuity of  using a piece of twine and spray paint to make their work easier — finding a shortcut to create a perfect circle around the tree — using a strand of  twine as the radius and the tree trunk for an anchor (a simple trick you can use at home too!). They were expanding the mulch bed and covering up grass, and didn’t want to have to use chemicals to kill the grass when there’s a better way: cardboard.  They used giant staples to tack the cardboard down to the ground to make it stay in place. For a step-by-step guide to how you could do this at home, just see the photos of Chris and Leah below.

“Try and stay warm you guys,” I said as I walked away.

“It’s not that bad,” said Leah,  “I love this kind of weather!”

Using a string to find the radius from the tree.

Gardener Chris Brown using a shortcut — using a string to find the radius.

chris brown

Spray paint marks the edge of the circle.

complete mulch ring

The completed ring uses giant staples to keep the cardboard in place.

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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