ACE Gardens

ACE (Action Committee for Environment)

The garden club has taken responsibility for the design, planting, and maintenance during the summer months of the following gardens as well as a monthly floral arrangement displayed in the Norfolk Public Library.

Sharon asked each ACE garden chair to update the club members on their garden; new plantings that worked or didn’t, what challenges you had and what you are doing to put the garden to bed. Below are a few.

Click on any picture to start the slide show. Press the X in the top left corner to end the slide show.

H. Olive Day School Butterfly Garden
Marty Richardson, Emily Nicodemus, Michelle Noonan, Mathew Noiseux and Sharon O’Brien

H. Olive Day Butterfly Garden was started by a teacher and taken over by two mothers, Barb Gaffney and Donna Shaw.  They helped their kids classrooms plant marigold seeds. The garden progress from there into a butterfly garden. Our Goals for last year were to:

  •  Understand out site
  • Identify and label the plants
  • Create a plot plan
  • Observe and identify butterflies

Several documents where written and a slide show of the garden was made.

HOD Butterfly Garden  – Microsoft PowerPoint or Power Point viewer is needed to view this file.

Butterfly Garden v12 – lists all plants in the garden, and designates which butterflies and/or caterpillars they attract. PDF file prints in legal sized paper.

Pictures of butteflies and caterpillars 2012-2014 seen in Norfolk ~ photographed by Michelle Noonan

Marty Richardson sent two samples of soil from the HOD Butterfly Garden to the UMass Extension, Center for Agriculture, to soil testing. One sample came from the original garden, the second from the new garden adjacent to the first one. The results were very interesting and are posted on the website under ACE gardens. If you are interested in getting a soil test report for your garden, go to Umass Soil Testing. There is a $10.00 fee per soil sample.

HOD Butterfly Soil Test Report BFG2
HOD Butterfly Soil Test Report BFG1

This is our second season of recording what is growing and happening in the garden. Now come fall we are looking back with appreciation and excitement at how much we have learned since spring 2012.

We have developed a number of resources to help educate ourselves on butterfly gardening.

  • A spreadsheet listing all the plants that are in our garden. Across from the plants we have a list of the butterflies and caterpillars each plant attracts. This spreadsheet also charts the blooming time and height of each plant. (The 2012 list is available on GCN website.)
  • A plot plan was developed identifying the exact location of each plant in the garden. This has been very useful come spring when plants are just emerging, we have an idea of what perennials to expect in the different areas of the garden.  As we are still newbies to butterfly gardening we are not always certain what a plant is before it blooms so this resource is invaluable.
  • A list of all the butterflies we have seen and photographed in Norfolk over the last 2 years. This has helped us narrow down the plants to put in the garden. The plants we choose are of benefit to one or more of our local butterflies.  (The 2012 list is available on GCN website.)

Goals for 2013

  • Extend our butterfly garden to the left and the right of our existing garden.
  • Plan the shape of the extension and how many beds we would like.
  • Expand the number and variety of plants in our garden to benefit our local butterflies
  • Plan where to place plants taking into account height, sun, moisture and drainage requirements.
  • Group plants together in twos and threes, this helps the butterflies to see the plants.

What we achieved

  • Through greenGoat we acquired a butterfly bush and honeysuckle vine that allowed us to create a small garden to the right of the original one. Both plants are doing well despite having been excavated from their ice-covered yard. Other plants in this small bed include a hollyhock and Rudbeckia.
  • We created a plant test area in a temporary bed to the left of the existing garden. In this we included from back to front – Sunflowers, Zinnias, Marigolds, Swamp Milkweed, Mexican Sunflowers, Yellow Yarrow and short cosmos. We did not expect our Mexican Sunflowers to be quite so tall so our heights were all askew. Despite this the plants in the test area did very well. We attended a talk on the Monarch butterfly at Adams Farm, Walpole in May. Here we received swamp milkweed seedlings. Luckily a number of them survived the transition to our test area. The leaves of the milkweed plants are food for the monarch caterpillar. The population numbers of the Monarch butterfly are at a critically low number this year. So there is a push nationwide to plant more milkweed and help this spectacular butterfly.
  • This fall we extended out existing garden to the left, it is now nearly twice its original size. We used rocks for the border of the garden. The soil was very easy to work with and it was surprisingly quick to dig and prepare for planting. Towards the back of the garden, near the classrooms the soil has a higher moisture content. There is moss growing in this area.  This may be beneficial to some plants like Rose Mallow and Cardinal Flowers that prefer moist conditions. However if the soil does not drain well this may be a challenge for other plants. Time will tell.
  • Our garden provided a wonderful display of butterfly attracting color and food.
  • Some of the old and new plants that did really well included Shasta Daisy, Sunflowers, Mexican Sunflowers, Tickseed (still blooming thanks to a timely trimming in late summer), Echinacea, Rose Campion, Common and Swamp Milkweed, Liatris, Butterfly bush, Joe Pye weed, Butterfly weed, Cardinal Flower, Chives, Bee Balm and Hollyhocks
  • A Rose Mallow and dwarf Butterfly bush have been planted this fall.  We will see how the Rose Mallow adapts to our garden.

Lessons learned this year

  • That this was a low butterfly year.  We don’t have any answers yet.
  • Plants in the garden were not always in the best position for their height, so we will take this more into account in future planning.
  • The goldenrod which we transplanted to the garden last year became invasive and smothered some of our existing plants. We have since dug it all out. We will research if there is a cultivar of goldenrod that would be better behaved in our garden.

We are currently in the process of settling all our plants in for a cozy winter and hopefully they will all re-emerge next year. Next year we hope to have a garden that is visually pleasing to staff and pupils at H Olive Day and more importantly we hope that butterflies pop in for a drink of delicious nectar and lay some eggs on our milkweed, dill and celery. We have had a great two years learning about butterfly gardening and we still have lots to learn.

If anyone has an excess of the following plant this spring the butterfly garden would gratefully receive: stepping-stones, Gloriosa daisies, Asters, Sedums and Yellow Yarrow.  

A special thank you for all the help we received this year:  Sharon Pierce in helping to retrieve the butterfly bush and honeysuckle vine; Emily’s husband Bob for carting load after load of rocks to the garden for the border of our new beds;  Mat’s son, Logan, for helping with the spring clean up and planting;  Michelle’s husband Sean for helping plant the butterfly bush and honeysuckle vine and her girls Maria, Aoibha and Saoirse for placing stones around the new beds.

Town Hall Planters
Dot Chitty, Sally Eykel and Monica Weiss

The planters at the back of the town hall were very pretty all summer. We hope to have greens in them for christmas.

Train Station Planters
Brenda Zolli, Bev Butler, Karen Belcher and Ann Marie Hennessey

Rub a dub dub, we have three tubs!
To charm commuters as they pass.
Not too much work, to set them out,
But to keep them watered, was a task.

Our summer flowers did very well
and took us through the fall.
We cleaned them out except the grass.
And turned the root filled soil.

Soon they’ll be filled with lovely greens,
And perhaps a scarlet bow
To charm those poor commuters
As they go sloshing through the snow!

Last year, amidst the snow and ice
Those poor old pots had several hits
A snow plow came and pushed them over
And broke off many little bits.

They looked so battered and forlorn,
We thought they wouldn’t last the spring
But flowers covered up the cracks,
And blossomed all a’ dazzling!

The end is near for these three pots.
It’s plain for all to see.
Please check the coffers of the Club,
We really need a brand new three!

Norfolk Town Center and Rt 115/Union Street Roundabouts
Joanne Wason (chairmen), Dot Chitty and Tina Addison

This year we added pink Veronicas to the Main St. Roundabout (just behind the one way signs).  They will be more noticeable next year since they were only planted in late July.

In the he second roundabout (Rt 115 & Union St) we replaced one white daisy and one pink mum.  (I think they may have been smothered with mulch) but we do appreciate the town adding the mulch for us! We plan on adding daffodils to the second roundabout this fall. And we continue to weed and deadhead at both sites.

H. Olive Day School Sign
Joanne Wason

In this very small garden I added a few annuals, deadhead and weeded during the growing season.

Town Hill Herb Garden
Susan Brindley, Marge Morian-Boyle, Liz Davey and Marty Richardson

Marty Richardson, Liz Davey, Marge Morian-Boyle and Susan Brindley cared for the Garden Club Herb Garden this past summer. From Windy Low Nursery in South Natick, we purchased herbs to replace those that did not make it through the winter.  Then our team met at the garden to get it ready for the summer.  We tilled the soil and cleaned up the garden, splitting or removing plants as needed and then we planted our new herbs, added Miracle Grow and Buckwheat mulch.  The boxwood had been a concern through the years, but it appeared to make it through last winter okay.  The new boxwood that we had planted the previous summer were doing well also. We had noticed that the nasturtium did not do well in seasons past so we did not put it in the garden this year.  We added a variety of herbal geraniums that did extremely well during this summer.

This is such a pleasant garden to work in.  Once the initial spring cleanup is complete, each of us had one week each month that we were responsible to go up and tend to any weeding and making sure that the garden was looking neat and tidy.  The Town sprinklers water our garden so we don’t have to worry about watering.  We had invited our Garden Club members to go up and snip some herbs for their personal use.  One member did mention that she had wanted to clip some mint for her tea but found we really didn’t have enough for her use.  Perhaps we can think about this for next year.