Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Herb Gardens at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens

The NEWHSA met to spruce up the herb beds we maintain at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens prior to the annual Garden Fair.

The Wellhouse has moon windows framing three important garden features: the pastoral Larsen Orchard remnant to the left, the Kress Oval to the right, and the Wellhouse garden straight ahead. The Wellhouse Garden is a summer garden featuring a boxwood and barberry parterre filled with flowering bulbs in patterns meant to be ‘read’ from above. The garden is edged with herb display beds featuring various medicinal, culinary, and ornamental plants. 

One of the herb beds the NEWHSA maintains is the butterfly bed, with a metal butterfly filled with sedum that overwinters, returning each spring.

The butterfly we chose to highlight this year is the Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice), a common native butterfly in Wisconsin from early spring until late fall.  It is common to see fields teeming with hundreds of these butterflies. This species is most abundant in hay fields, especially fields with abundant alfalfa and clover. At times they can easily be seen along the roadsides adjacent to the hayfields and prairies.
The upper surface of male wings is bright, clear yellow with solid black edging, while the lower side of the forewing has some dark submarginal spots and the hindwing has a silver cell spot rimmed with orange-pink, usually doubled. The female has 2 forms.  One form is yellow with uneven black edging enclosing yellow spots. A white form is greenish-white rather than yellow. Spring and fall forms are smaller and less conspicuously marked.
Clouded sulphurs lay eggs singly on leaves of various legumes including alfalfa (Medicago sativa), white clover (Trifolium repens), and pea (Pisum sativum). In about five days eggs hatch into caterpillars that are bright green, with a darker stripe down the back and whitish lateral stripes. The chrysalis are green, and pointed at both ends. Pupation averages ten days in the non-wintering generations. Hibernation is by third-stage caterpillars in the chrysalis stage. 
From mid spring to fall, Clouded Sulphurs cruise low over the grasstops with a vigorous, searching flight. During courtship, females respond to the male‘s pheromone, which is released when the male buffets her with his wings, causing the female to extend the abdomen out from the hindwings such that the male can join. Adults feed on the flower nectar of many plants. Males of this and other sulphur species congregate in large groups at puddles and other moist ground possibly to take nutrients from the wet soil. 

Another herb bed NEWHSA maintains highlights herbs of the Bible:

"Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food."
~Hippocrates, Greek father of natural medicine

  St. Fiacre
  Aloe (Aquilari agalioche)   John 19:39-40
  Bay (Laurel Nobilis)   Psalms 37:35
  Chicory (Cichorium intybus)   Exodus 12:8 ("bitter herbs")  
  Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)   Isaiah 28:25
  Dill (Anethum graveolens)   Matthew 23:23
  English Ivy (Hedera helix)   Maccabees 6:7
  Fig ((Ficus carica)   Micah 4:4
  Garlic, onions, & leeks (Alium cepa)   Numbers 11:5-6
  Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)   Exodus 30:23 ("Calamus")
  Moroccan Mint (Mentha spicata)   Luke 11:42
  Syrian Oregano (Origanum maru)   Psalms 51:7
  Rose (Rosa spp.)   Isaiah 35:1
  Rue (Ruta chalepensis)   Luke 11:42
  Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium)   Revelations 8:11

Herbs in Thyme maintains several of the herb beds at the Green Bay Botanical Garden including culinary beds and fairy garden beds.

"An herb is a weed you can eat."
~Bartell Desmond

A culinary herb garden
Fairy garden with miniture formal beds filled with sedums

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