The Wildflower Garden and Fairy Retreat
Visit our stations and learn!
Challenge - How many female gnomes can you find?
The gnome garden is where our gnomes have built their village. Gnomes have historically been described as small (from a few inches to a foot or two in height) stout beings who live in the stumps, rocks, flower gardens and underground. Gnomes are spirits of the ‘Earth’ element (the other three classical elements being: ‘Water,’ ‘Fire,’ and ‘Air’). Gnomes were said to be able to move through the earth itself as easily as we humans walk upon it. Sometimes gnomes were said to have magical powers to protect or punish people – or to reward them with happiness. Gnomes are also said to be guardians of secret underground treasures – especially gold! More modern descriptions of gnomes usually emphasize their bright red pointed hats, solid colored clothes, and the long white beard of the typical male. Though sightings of female gnomes are rarely reported, gnome women are generally thought to be beard-free.
Did you know gnomes are know to turn into Hedgehogs, can you find a Hedgehog?
Pixie and Dragon Garden
Challenge - There is a very mischievous baby dragon, where is he? Can you name what types of dragons are in the garden?
The first Pixies come to America with the English folk from the the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. They have been here for hundreds of years. Our Pixies are not as well dressed as the English Pixies as when they traveled over the seas in the boats to America they could only come with the clothes on their backs. Even though Pixies are cute they love to lead travelers astray and play tricks on them. They can also help humans they are found of and will help their gardens grow. Pixies never take life too seriously and believe laughter is the best medicine. Our Pixies are also the keepers of our garden dragons.
Can you find the dragons below?
Challenge - Find the bumblebee on the tree. Can you find the bug hotel near by?
Most people forget how important to humans these little community based insects are, we can learn a lot from bees, from their team work and their sense of community every bee is important! Bees are in trouble and planting flowers can help them survive. Why do bees need our help? Because of the following factors to include:
Habitat Loss – Bumble bees habitat,is being threatened by the development of land, this causes disruption to their underground area for nesting, sites for overwintering (i.e. mulch and/or rotting logs), and an abundance of wildflowers for food from spring through fall.
Climate Change – These fuzzy bees are cold weather adapted but are likely affected by long-term changes in weather patterns.
Disease – The use of managed bumble bees for pollination of greenhouse crops has lead to the spillover of disease from managed to wild bumble bees.
Pesticides – These chemicals are meant to affect pests but may have harmful effects on bumble bees as the have contact with sprayed plants.
The best way to help our American Bumble Bee is to plant bee friendly plants around your yard, it is easy. For more information go to www.virginiabeekeepers.org and/or honeybeehealthcoalition.org.
Flower Fairy Garden
Challenge - Can you find a fairy fishing?
There are many flower fairies which all have different jobs just like humans. Flower Fairies come in many shapes and sizes, they are spirits of the "Air" element . Some fairies create the brilliant colors of the flowers, some make the special fragrance while other fairies make sure the roots, stems and leaves of the plants receive the nutrients to grow. Each bloom has its own special fairy that lives within the flower and shares its life. When the flowers dies it is returned to the earth and the fairy returns to the earth to rise in the spring again with a new flower.
Flower fairies are the gentle, sweetest and most generous of all sprites. When they are finished tending to the flowers you may see them playing and dancing together under the trees.
Discovery - Enter the Labyrinth and walk very slowly, while you are walking think back to a time where you were the happiest you have ever been! While you are walking try to remember every detail of the memory!
The labyrinth is very ancient and has several purposes, one mythical and one more spiritual. The oldest labyrinth served as traps for wicked spirits or as paths for ritual dances.
The more modern and spiritual labyrinth was created as a symbol that relates to ones wholeness. It combines circles and spirals into a winding but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.
A labyrinth in different than a maze in the sense that it has an clear route to the center and back and presents no navigational challenge. It is clearly to clear your mind.
Butterfly Tree & House
Challenge - What tells the story of the butterfly at this station? How does the life of a butterfly begin?
The butterfly tree is located right outside of the wildflower beds, on the tree is a butterfly house and a butterfly feeder. The tree is a tulip poplar and in the spring gets beautiful large yellow flowers on the tree.
Butterflies make the world a little more colorful. However, butterflies do more than just paint a pretty picture. They help flowers pollinate, eat plenty of weedy plants and provide a food source for other animals. In addition, their presence or absence can tell us a lot about the local environment.
Populations of insect pollinators such as butterflies and bees have faced near-extinction events. These pollinators are extremely important in the world's food source. Without them, people will not enjoy chocolates, apples, coffee and other foods that have we have come accustomed to.
To help our butterflies we give them a sugary mix and some fruit in their feeder, but growing wildflowers in your yard is also a great way to help them.
Discovery - Did you see a hummingbird? Challenge - Can hummingbirds fly backwards?
This is our Hummingbird feeding area. Hummingbirds are another important pollinator. In Virginia, the only species you’ll see is the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Hummingbirds actually eat more than sugar water they eat small bugs and spiders. They are active during the day but at night they fall into the Torpor phase, a state akin to hibernation. Often they hang upside down from branches, and this may be why people mistakenly believe them to be dead.
Hummingbirds beat their wings about eight to 200 times per second. They move their wings very fast in order to keep their small bodies airborne. The birds also tend to move their wings faster when they dive than during their usual flight.
With the changing climates and the subsequent changes to the flora and fauna of any particular region, a decrease in food sources is unfortunately becoming a common factor in premature demise of not only hummingbirds, but many other animals as well. It is easy to help these birds, take the time to plant hummingbird friendly plants and put out a feeders!
For more information on hummingbirds check out www.hummingbirdsplus.org
Seed bombs/Pinecone feeder/Crafts
Discovery - See video on how to make Seed bombs and Pine Cone Feeders on activity page!
Seed bombs are little balls made from clay, dirt and seeds. This balls can be used for guerrilla gardening purposes or to add some extra beauty to your home garden. In other words through them in ugly places to bring color to the world, but please bomb responsibly! These seeds were specifically chosen for their resiliency so Happy Gardening!!
Pine Cone Bird Feeder - Peanut butter is a very nutritious treat, high in calories and fat for great energy. Many birds enjoy peanut butter, including nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers, and jays.
Did you see these birds, they are common in Virginia?
Challenge - How are ladybugs helpful to humans? Can you find the ladybug fairies?
Ladybugs, which are also called Ladybirds, are considered a beneficial insect to man because they eat many bugs that are known to eat plants and destroy crops. The most common are aphids, mites and mealybugs. The blood of a ladybug is yellow and has a very strong smell that acts as a repellent, to predators.
Ladybugs are generally associated with Good Fortune and Good Luck. They bring with them a sense of Future Prosperity. Their bright and Colourful look, along with their happy-go-lucky travels means living life without boundaries. You can attract them to your garden by planting herbs like dill, fennel and yarrow.
Docile in nature, these insects are not aggressive and do not bite. Their red coloring is a warning symbol to birds and other predators that they are toxic to eat, but they pose no threat to humans.