High praise

High praise for my favorite Phlox ‘Natural Feelings’ blooming since early JulyKudos and many thanks go to all who made the Celebration of a Century Gala such a whopping success. Gala volunteers were able to raise more money for our operating budget (salaries, etc) – as well as extra for a new roof for the mansion – than any of the other wildly successful galas in previous years. That’s truly astounding especially considering our country’s current economic funk. I am constantly amazed and gratified by just how supportive Blithewold’s supporters are.

I’m also endlessly gratified by our every day visitors – we wouldn’t be in the garden (or on-line) without them either. It’s not just their praise that we live for (and if I may take a moment for horn tooting, we are told almost every day that this is the most meticulously maintained public garden they’ve seen. Many many thanks to our amazing volunteers!), but their questions definitely make the days more interesting. One of our garden docents passed along a few questions from the weekend and I hope the askers watch the blog for the answers:Concord grapes ripening on the arbor

Q: What kind of grapes are on the arbor?

A: They are New England’s finest – Concord – and the vine is about 100 years old.

Q: Where are the beehives?

A: It’s been a couple of years since we’ve had busy domestic honey bee hives on the property but there is a thriving wild hive in a Horse Chestnut stump just off the path between the Enclosed Garden and the Display Garden.

Look up to see the wild honey bee hive

Q: Why do bees like the pond?

A: Bees need water for making the brood food and to regulate the temperature in the hive. They keep the hive at a steady 95 degrees Fahrenheit or so – any warmer and the wax will start to melt. Some of the worker bees are given the job of bringing water to the hive and will make upwards of 50 trips a day. They like our cement pond because it’s close to the hive, a consistent source since it never goes dry, and it has plenty of convenient landing pads.

Bees drinking from the pond

High praise also goes to Fred and Dan for making such a fun games table in the Display Garden. Not a day goes by without a game played and yesterday Margaret (our fabulous curator and 3rd floor archivist) and her grandchildren from the U.K. came over to play a round of Giraffes. (“Giraffes” is Thomas’ name for Draughts which is English for Checkers.) Team Thomas and Margaret took gold and Sophie won the silver.

Sophie (aged nearly nine) and toothless Thomas (just turned 6) playing Giraffes

And finally, kudos and a shout out to my friend Sarah who has started a public garden at Firehouse 13 in Providence, RI and is blogging all about it. Visit Green Zone to read posts which range in topic from WWII victory gardens to container planting in shoes. (Sarah’s day job has her out and about awarding state preservation grants to places like Blithewold for projects like our greenhouse restoration in 2005. Yay, Sarah!)