The Wildflower Garden and Fairy Retreat
Visit our stations and learn about pollinators; bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and ladybugs. Also find all the helper fairies, gnomes, dragons, and other magical creatures who help the pollinators!
Challenge - How many female gnomes can you find?
The gnome garden is where our gnomes have built their village. There are three types of Gnomes:
Deep Gnomes live in the ground at the roots of trees, they are friendly but do not like outsiders too much, you can see the hatches in the garden that lead to the underworld of the Gnomes.
Forest Gnomes live in the forest and in the trees above the ground and sometimes build their own homes, they are shy but like humans and will show themselves if they feel they can trust you.
Rock Gnomes are super friendly and they are the tinkers who love to invent things.
Gnomes can be exceedingly small, from a few inches to a foot or two in height. They are stout beings who live in the stumps, rocks, flowers, gardens, and underground.
Gnomes are spirits of the Earth and are said to be able to move through the earth as easily as humans can walk on it. Sometimes gnomes are said to have magical powers to protect or punish people or to reward them with happiness. Gnomes are also said to be the guardians of secret underground treasures like gold.
Gnomes sometimes wear bright red pointed hats, solid-colored clothes, and long white beards. Female gnomes are rarely reported, and they don't have beards most of the time.
Did you know gnomes are known 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?
Pixies are fairies that do not wings, this is why they love dragonfly’s and the wee dragons in our garden! Pixies just like many of the fairies came to America with the English folk, many years ago, from 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 because 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 may also help humans if they take a liking to you and will help your 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 dragon below?
Hello, let us talk bees! Most people forget how important to humans these little community-based insects are, we can learn a lot from bees, from their teamwork, and their sense of community. Every bee is important, one cannot live without the other, they all have important jobs and rely on each other! Bees are in trouble and planting wildflowers can help them survive, I bet they love this wildflower garden! Why do bees need our help? Because they are facing:
Habitat Loss – Bumble bees’ habitat, when humans build houses, office spaces, roads, or stores, the development of the land 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 bumblebees for pollination of greenhouse crops has led to the spillover of disease from managed to wild bumblebees.
Pesticides – These chemicals are meant to affect pests but may have harmful effects on bumblebees as they have contact with sprayed plants.
Without bees we would have no food, they are the great pollinators! They go from plant to plant, trees to trees and make it possible for the plants to bear flowers, trees to bear fruits and vegetables, to well make vegetables! It would be a very hungry world without them!
For more information go to www.virginiabeekeepers.org and/or honeybeehealthcoalition.org.
Flower Fairy Garden
Challenge - Can you find a fairy fishing?
Now we have come to my favorite garden, the garden of the flower fairies. There are many flower fairies that all have different jobs just like humans. Flower Fairies come in many shapes and sizes; they are spirits of the "Air" element. Flower fairies live just about anywhere there are flowers, treetops, marshes, forest floors, and waysides. Wherever and whenever a seed sprouts, a Flower Fairy baby is born.
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 die 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 fairies. 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 one's 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 is different than a maze in the sense that it has a clear route to the center and back and presents no navigational challenge. It is clear 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 backward?
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 the 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!
For more information on hummingbirds check out www.hummingbirdsplus.org
Seed bombs/Pinecone feeder/Crafts
Discovery - See the video on how to make Seed bombs and Pine Cone Feeders on the 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 that 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 beneficial insects 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.
Kids will hunt for insects in the garden and determine if they are beneficial or harmful to their plants.
Time: 30 minutes to an hour
Insect ID Website (see below)
There are over one million known species of insects in our world, making up nearly 75% of the animal kingdom. Unfortunately, we often give insects a bad rap by focusing on those we consider pests -- those that cause damage to our food crops (such as aphids, whiteflies, and potato beetles), our homes (such as termites), and our bodies (like mosquitoes and ticks). But these pests are a very small percentage of the overall insect population. Most insects play unseen but important roles in our ecosystem, and some provide us with very obvious benefits such as useful products (honey from bees and silk from silkworms), protection from pest insects through predation and parasitism of pest species (ladybugs and lacewings), pollination of food crops (about 30% of our food crops depend on insect pollinators such as bees) and decomposition of dead organic materials (blowflies, dung beetles). We often call these important six-legged creatures beneficial insects.
Go here to identify bugs!
Good Bugs Identification:
Bad Bugs identification: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/NE/index.html