Thursday, September 22, 2016

200 Years, 200 Trees: Getting Ready for the University of Michigan Bicentennial at Matthaei-Nichols

The University is pulling out all the stops for its bicentennial in 2017. Departments and units across campus are planning events, discussions, programming, and more that will occur throughout the year.

Matthaei-Nichols is planning three activities for the bicentennial. The first is our "Grandmother Tree Walk" in Nichols Arboretum that features trees of significance or great age that are still growing in the Arb. Signs will be installed near each tre on the walk in the spring of 2017 so visitors can take the tour and read about the story of U-M from the perspective of the trees.

For the fall native plant sale in October 2017 we're giving away 200 white oak (Quercus alba) seedlings germinated from acorns collected from trees on our properties.  Staff, students, and volunteers raced to get to the acorns before they fell to the ground and the squirrels got to them. No easy feat, considering the hungry squirrels in the Arb!

We'll also be planting two white oaks at Matthaei and the Arb in the fall of 2017. Stay tuned for more information on these bicentennial activities as the new year approaches.

Collecting White Oak Acorns from Trees on Our Properties

In late September, volunteers, staff, and student caretakers at the Arb collected 300 acorns from trees growing in the Arb. Some pictures of the acorns and how we selected ones to keep and plant and ones to discard.

You'd think the number of acorns would be huge in any given year on any given white oak. Not necessarily, according to the US Forest Service:

"Seed Production and Dissemination- White oak can produce seeds prolifically, but good acorn crops are irregular and occur only every 4 to 10 years. Sometimes several years may pass without a crop. Acorn yields range from 0 to 500,000 acorns per hectare (202,000/acre) (7,22,28). This great variation in acorn production exists not only among isolated stands of oaks but also among individual trees within stands and from year to year."

Referenced from US Forest Service publication.



All the acorns collected for the bicentennial white oak giveaway.


Sorting the acorns. Plenty of insect damage, never mind the squirrels!


Can't use these. Infested with insects and therefore damaged.
In the bag: the good acorns, getting ready for planting.













Fall Native Plant Sale at Matthaei

The birds and the bees and the environment will thank you for planting native species in your garden. Native plants are low-maintenance, often drought-tolerant, and suited for our local climate. They also attract beneficial pollinators, insects, and birds. Join us for our annual Native Plant Sale, October 1 & 2, 2016. See below in this post a list of plants we're offering.

Local grower Native Plant Nursery will have woody plants and shrubs for sale.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens 
1800 N. Dixboro Rd. 
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

********

Native Plants—A Heritage Worth Protecting 
Learn what a native vs. an invasive plant is and why planting natives is a good idea. 

What is a native plant?
Plants that are “native” to Michigan have grown here for thousands of years. Michigan’s native plants have adapted over the centuries as glaciers, rivers, storms, and fire have shaped the landscape. Our native plants evolved together with other plants, animals and fungi, forming complex webs of relationships known as ecosystems.

What is an invasive plant?
Non-native plants, on the other hand, evolved in other parts of the world. When humans travel, we often carry (both intentionally and unintentionally) plants from other parts of the world. Some of these non-native plants have become invasive, spreading into natural areas. A non-native plant that spreads aggressively and crowds out native plants is called an invasive plant.

Why are native plants and ecosystems important?
Since native plants co-evolved with our native animals, these plants provide the ideal food and shelter for our native wildlife. Native plants are also especially adapted to our soil and weather conditions; so native plants are perfectly designed to filter water and produce oxygen for our region.

Biodiversity—a variety of living things—keeps ecosystems healthy. A diverse animal community needs a wide variety of plants. When an invasive plant, such as buckthorn, enters an ecosystem it can replace hundreds of native plant species with one monotonous stand of buckthorn.

If we cultivate and protect native plants, we can preserve the precious biodiversity of our state!

********

Images of some of the plants for sale (click on the common name to see an picture of the plant form the University of Michigan Herbarium):

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Great blue lobelia (Lobelia silphitica)

Nodding wild onion (Allium cernuum)



2016 Native Plant Sale list – Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Sat. & Sun., Oct. 1 & 2


Plant Name     Common Name           
Allium cernuum                   Nodding Wild Onion   

Andropogon gerardii           Big Bluestem   

Aquilegia canadensis           Columbine       

Asclepias incarnata              Swamp Milkweed        

Asclepias syriaca                 Common Milkweed     

Asclepias tuberosa              Butterfly-weed 

Carex grayi                         Gray's Sedge
    
Echinacea purpurea            Purple Coneflower      

Eryngium yuccifolium        Rattlesnake Master      

Eurybia macrophylla          Big-leaved Aster          

Fragaria virginiana             Wild Strawberry           

Heuchera americana          Alum Root       

Liatris aspera                     Rough Blazing Star      

Lobelia siphilitica              Great Blue Lobelia      

Monarda fistulosa             Wild Bergamot            

Monarda punctata             Dotted Mint; Horse Mint        

Penstemon digitalis           Foxglove Beard-tongue           

Ratibida pinnata               Yellow Coneflower      

Rudbeckia triloba             Three-lobed Coneflower          

Solidago flexicaulis           Zig-zag Goldenrod      

Sorghastrum nutans         Indian Grass    

Thalictrum dasycarpum    Purple Meadow Rue    


Verbena hastata                Blue Vervain   

Friday, September 16, 2016

Foreshadowing - Endangered and Threatened Plant Species

By Jane Kramer

Foreshadowing, an exhibit of botanical portraits in a surprising medium, is on display at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Created by Michigan artist and photographer Jane Kramer, the works illuminate native and invasive plant species in a different light. Kramer spent weeks exploring Michigan’s nature preserves and botanical gardens, including Matthaei, taking pictures of the shadows cast by native plant species. The shadow images were then transferred to handmade paper created from invasive plant species. For Kramer the shadows speak to the fragility of threatened plants and their struggle to survive in a changing environment that includes invasive species. The coupling of shadow and paper underscores the complex relationship between invasive and endangered plant species.

For Kramer the artistic process of capturing the shadows and laying them down on paper was a learning experience. The process itself was arduous and tricky and reminded her of the struggle that native species experience as nonnative or invasive species compete with them for resources.

“For me, it's the images of the endangered and threatened plant species that have the most important story to tell,” say Kramer. Some of these plants are nearing extinction in Michigan, she notes, “and once they are gone, they are just that—gone.” Kramer hopes that through the exhibit people “will feel this connection and be compelled to take action, no matter how small, in preserving Michigan's ecosystems—and not just for the plants, but for all the animals and insects that rely on them.”

Read an interview with Jane Kramer below.

Exhibit dates and location:

September 17-November 13, 2016
Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
734.647.7600
mbgna.umich.edu

The exhibit is free and open daily 10 am–4:30 pm;
Wednesdays until 8 pm.

Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris) by Jane Kramer

Golden Alexander (Zizea aurea) by Jane Kramer

Houghton's goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii)
by Jane Kramer



Matthaei-Nichols: What inspired your original idea: photographing the shadows of native plants and then transferring those images onto handmade paper? The process is so multi-layered. Did the idea come to you all at once or in stages?

Jane Kramer: The idea came together when I was writing the proposal for Art from the Lakes [an art exchange program between the State of Michigan and Shiga Prefecture, Japan]. I had been experimenting with the shadows of plants for a few years, but they were random plants and I didn’t have a theme. It really was just for fun. As soon as I heard that the Art from the Lakes theme was “The Nature of Michigan,” I knew I was going to do plant shadows. Then I was trying to figure out what kind of plants would speak to an environmental concern that Michigan is dealing with right now. That's how I came up with the endangered plant focus. Since the final artwork would be representing Michigan and traveling to Japan, I wanted to create something that was 100% (or close to) Michigan-made. I didn't want to use paper that was made in China or Japan, but decided I was going to make my own paper from plants. I was thinking out loud about what kinds of plants were abundant and no one would mind me using, and my husband suggested invasive plants. (He's a conservation biologist at MSU.)


MN: You’ve written that the shadow of the native plant laid down on the paper made from invasive plants represents a struggle in our ecosystems between native plants and invasive species. Can you expand on that?

JK: I knew the process would be labor-intensive and challenging and require a lot of research. I hadn't found anyone who was printing photographic images on homemade paper, and even when I figured out how it could be done, it wasn't easy to do. One day when none of my transfers were working, I realized that my difficulty in putting these plants together in a print was reflective of their relationship in nature. I laughed at the irony, but also found it to be extremely frustrating. Most of the time, I can't get the ink of the endangered plant to transfer properly and the invasive paper wins. And even when the image transfers, it's transparent with the invasive paper fibers showing through. I like how this looks, but it's difficult to accomplish and completely unpredictable. As an artist and not a scientist, it has actually made me wonder why we are trying so hard to rid our natural areas of invasive plants when some are so clearly dominant. Should we try? Can we succeed? I've met so many interesting and knowledgeable people over the course of working on this project, and they all have different answers to these questions. That has been the biggest eye-opener for me. It's left me with the intent to do what I can to preserve our local ecosystems while also keeping an open mind.


MN: Did you experience other “aha” or learning moments about plants, the environment, or invasive species while working on Foreshadowing?

JK: I knew what invasive species were, of course, but I really had no idea how many there were, how abundant they were and what harm they can cause to the environment and to our economy. It was fascinating to learn that there were four species growing right in my neighborhood! I'm starting to see my surroundings in an entirely new light. Whenever I'm out driving now, I find myself scanning the roadsides for invasive species.

I also wasn't aware that so many of the species available at plant stores aren't the ones we should be planting. I had assumed they wouldn't be selling them if they were harmful to the local ecosystem. It has reminded me yet again that I have to be a conscious shopper when it comes to the products I buy for my home—and garden!

It was also interesting to learn that the locations of some endangered and threatened plant species communities are kept secret because of the fear of people taking the plants or their seeds.


MN: What can Foreshadowing help our visitors and members---many of whom are passionate about plants---understand?


JK: For me, it's the images of the endangered and threatened plant species that have the most important story to tell. Some of these plants are nearing extinction in Michigan and once they are gone, they are just that—gone. I'm hoping that people will feel this connection and be compelled to take action, no matter how small, in preserving Michigan's ecosystems—and not just for the plants, but for all the animals, insects, etc. that rely on them. 



Jane Kramer is a fine art photographer in East Lansing, Michigan. She has a degree in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota and photography training from the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana.


Jane's projects are created with a conceptual approach and are motivated by a story, message, or education element. They require extended periods of time and focus on subjects that are delicate, overlooked, discarded, forgotten or underappreciated.

Foreshadowing - Endangered and Threatened Plant Species

By Jane Kramer

Foreshadowing, an exhibit of botanical portraits in a surprising medium, is on display at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Created by Michigan artist and photographer Jane Kramer, the works illuminate native and invasive plant species in a different light. Kramer spent weeks exploring Michigan’s nature preserves and botanical gardens, including Matthaei, taking pictures of the shadows cast by native plant species. The shadow images were then transferred to handmade paper created from invasive plant species. For Kramer the shadows speak to the fragility of threatened plants and their struggle to survive in a changing environment that includes invasive species. The coupling of shadow and paper underscores the complex relationship between invasive and endangered plant species.

For Kramer the artistic process of capturing the shadows and laying them down on paper was a learning experience. The process itself was arduous and tricky and reminded her of the struggle that native species experience as nonnative or invasive species compete with them for resources.

“For me, it's the images of the endangered and threatened plant species that have the most important story to tell,” say Kramer. Some of these plants are nearing extinction in Michigan, she notes, “and once they are gone, they are just that—gone.” Kramer hopes that through the exhibit people “will feel this connection and be compelled to take action, no matter how small, in preserving Michigan's ecosystems—and not just for the plants, but for all the animals and insects that rely on them.”

Read an interview with Jane Kramer below.

Exhibit dates and location:

September 17-November 13, 2016
Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
734.647.7600
mbgna.umich.edu

The exhibit is free and open daily 10 am–4:30 pm;
Wednesdays until 8 pm.

Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris) by Jane Kramer

Golden Alexander (Zizea aurea) by Jane Kramer

Houghton's goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii)
by Jane Kramer



Matthaei-Nichols: What inspired your original idea: photographing the shadows of native plants and then transferring those images onto handmade paper? The process is so multi-layered. Did the idea come to you all at once or in stages?

Jane Kramer: The idea came together when I was writing the proposal for Art from the Lakes [an art exchange program between the State of Michigan and Shiga Prefecture, Japan]. I had been experimenting with the shadows of plants for a few years, but they were random plants and I didn’t have a theme. It really was just for fun. As soon as I heard that the Art from the Lakes theme was “The Nature of Michigan,” I knew I was going to do plant shadows. Then I was trying to figure out what kind of plants would speak to an environmental concern that Michigan is dealing with right now. That's how I came up with the endangered plant focus. Since the final artwork would be representing Michigan and traveling to Japan, I wanted to create something that was 100% (or close to) Michigan-made. I didn't want to use paper that was made in China or Japan, but decided I was going to make my own paper from plants. I was thinking out loud about what kinds of plants were abundant and no one would mind me using, and my husband suggested invasive plants. (He's a conservation biologist at MSU.)


MN: You’ve written that the shadow of the native plant laid down on the paper made from invasive plants represents a struggle in our ecosystems between native plants and invasive species. Can you expand on that?

JK: I knew the process would be labor-intensive and challenging and require a lot of research. I hadn't found anyone who was printing photographic images on homemade paper, and even when I figured out how it could be done, it wasn't easy to do. One day when none of my transfers were working, I realized that my difficulty in putting these plants together in a print was reflective of their relationship in nature. I laughed at the irony, but also found it to be extremely frustrating. Most of the time, I can't get the ink of the endangered plant to transfer properly and the invasive paper wins. And even when the image transfers, it's transparent with the invasive paper fibers showing through. I like how this looks, but it's difficult to accomplish and completely unpredictable. As an artist and not a scientist, it has actually made me wonder why we are trying so hard to rid our natural areas of invasive plants when some are so clearly dominant. Should we try? Can we succeed? I've met so many interesting and knowledgeable people over the course of working on this project, and they all have different answers to these questions. That has been the biggest eye-opener for me. It's left me with the intent to do what I can to preserve our local ecosystems while also keeping an open mind.


MN: Did you experience other “aha” or learning moments about plants, the environment, or invasive species while working on Foreshadowing?

JK: I knew what invasive species were, of course, but I really had no idea how many there were, how abundant they were and what harm they can cause to the environment and to our economy. It was fascinating to learn that there were four species growing right in my neighborhood! I'm starting to see my surroundings in an entirely new light. Whenever I'm out driving now, I find myself scanning the roadsides for invasive species.

I also wasn't aware that so many of the species available at plant stores aren't the ones we should be planting. I had assumed they wouldn't be selling them if they were harmful to the local ecosystem. It has reminded me yet again that I have to be a conscious shopper when it comes to the products I buy for my home—and garden!

It was also interesting to learn that the locations of some endangered and threatened plant species communities are kept secret because of the fear of people taking the plants or their seeds.


MN: What can Foreshadowing help our visitors and members---many of whom are passionate about plants---understand?


JK: For me, it's the images of the endangered and threatened plant species that have the most important story to tell. Some of these plants are nearing extinction in Michigan and once they are gone, they are just that—gone. I'm hoping that people will feel this connection and be compelled to take action, no matter how small, in preserving Michigan's ecosystems—and not just for the plants, but for all the animals, insects, etc. that rely on them. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hosting the Wolverine Pathways Scholars: A New Generation of Environmental Stewards

By Benjamin Tupper

Matthaei-Nichols children’s education intern Ben Tupper writes about our participation in the summer Wolverine Pathways program. It was an amazing and collaborative learning experience for everyone, he says, and it offered the opportunity to design, implement, and reality-test a program that will help kids connect the theme of stewardship to their own lives.

Summer is a busy time for everyone at Matthaei-Nichols and the Children’s Education department is no exception. Transitioning from school-year to summer programs, we fervently prepared for the arrival of the Wolverine Pathways Scholars. This groundbreaking new program is the brainchild of U-M associate professor Robert Jagers. The pathways moniker is apt: schoolkids who complete the program and are accepted at U-M get full-tuition, four-year scholarships.

At Matthaei-Nichols the education department works with schoolchildren and young students year-round, both leading and designing hands-on learning experiences that also bring in projects-based pedagogies. Our team spent the better part of two months this summer building a program that would take advantage of our incredible site and knowledgeable staff to scaffold a collaborative educational experience that is both relevant and connected to youths’ lives.

Wolverine Pathways Scholars take a photo opp break from
their lab session at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
What we have to offer makes so much sense, given the goals and the direction of the Wolverine Pathways program, says Matthaei-Nichols director Bob Grese. “The opportunity for us to participate in Wolverine Pathways fits squarely within our Nature Education Initiative to bring diverse, underserved audiences to Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum and provide them with exciting opportunities to learn about nature and environmental stewardship,” he explains. The four-day program held at Matthaei was a learning experience for everyone. For the scholars, it was an opportunity to explore a new area, learn about stewardship, and contemplate the importance of becoming environmental stewards in their own locale. For staff and interns, it was an opportunity to see a design in action, work with new people, and to be a part of something that has the potential to impact hundreds of youth from the local area.



Notebooks, cameras, collection nets, and clipboards at the ready for
the Pathways Scholars. This summer,over 200 Southfield and Ypsilanti
school-district childrenvisited Matthae Botanical Gardens for an intensive
4-day session in which they went out into the field to collect samples of
and from Fleming Creek. After, the students analyzed the water
to determine the creek's healh. The students also participated
in other activities conducted by student interns and staff at Matthaei,
such as building mason bee houses in the Children's Garden or eco-
conservation---pulling invasive plants, for example.


What Is Wolverine Pathways?
Dr. Robert Jagers, a developmental psychologist at the U-M  School of Education, designed the Wolverine Pathways program, which launched in January 2016. A major goal of Pathways is to give young people early opportunities that will help them see possibilities and cultivate their fullest potential. It also gives the kids a sense of what it’s like to be a U-M student. University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel has called the Wolverine Pathways program an “important step for the University of Michigan as we continue to look for ways to identify talented students and cultivate U-M applicants from all parts of our state.”

Wolverine Pathways was designed to provide young people with learning opportunities that embrace the best that liberal arts can give, according to Pathways program coordinator Dana Davidson. “Kids get a chance to connect with graduate students, undergrads, and faculty who can give them guidance about what the U-M experience is and how they can connect with the wider world.” And, she adds, “It will help young people see that college is a good choice for them, and that it’s possible, too.”Wolverine Pathways:

•  Is free and currently open to students who live within the Ypsilanti and Southfield public school districts.
•  Features hands-on and project-based learning activities that extend and integrate core English-language arts, math, and science content.
•  Offers a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to students who complete the program, apply to the University of Michigan, and are accepted.
For more information on how you can contribute to our Nature Education Initiative, contact Matthaei-Nichols Director of Development Gayle Steiner: 734.647.7847; gayles@umich.edu.


The first round of scholars arrived on Monday morning, July 18. Day one, 8th-grade youth from the Ypsilanti school district headed out to Fleming Creek, got their feet wet and their hands dirty, and determined creek health based on what species of macro-invertebrates they found. While groups conducted surveys in the creek, others were busy working on chemical tests looking for things like dissolved oxygen, nitrates, and phosphates. While the 8th graders were busy in the creek, the 11th graders worked with Matthaei-Nichols staff on service-learning projects of the terrestrial type. After a quick lunch and respite from the heat of the day the scholars were back at it. The 8th graders crunched numbers, analyzed data, and made determinations of creek health based on their morning findings. The 11th graders headed out to the display gardens, learning about interpretation techniques and how to convey information to the public. With day 1 complete, the scholars headed home and the staff frantically prepared for the next day.

During the second day of the program the scholars swapped roles. After another hot morning out collecting data and conducting field service work, the youth began work on their final projects. Using information they gathered on their visit to Matthaei the students developed stewardship-themed posters that they presented to their peers and to staff. The poster session was a huge success and the kids enjoyed an opportunity to share their innovative, creative, and entertaining projects. Days 3 and 4 of the program ran very much the same as the first, except with Southfield school district students and double the number of kids from days one and two!

Note from Ben: I want to thank everyone involved with this program. Our children’s education coordinator Liz Glynn was a guiding light, and my fellow intern Sam Pilon also helped put the program together. It was wonderful to see so many enthusiastic Matthaei-Nichols staff participating and giving their precious time and energy to make a lasting impact on youth. To everyone who helped plan, implement, and participate, thank you!


What We Learned
The four-day Wolverine Pathways program proved to be a learning experience for everyone. The student scholars explored a new area, learned about stewardship, and contemplated the importance of becoming environmental stewards in their own locale. For staff and interns, it was an opportunity to see a design in action, to work with new people, and to be a part of an initiative that has the potential to impact hundreds of youth from the local area.

What’s Next

Moving forward, we’d like to get student participants’ insights to help us better understand their experience of the program. It would be also be interesting to study the design process and to gain insights into the intended, taught, and learned curriculum. This will help us in the future with the design and implementation but perhaps most important, it will help us discover what the students actually learn, whether we intended those lessons or not. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mason Bee Houses in the Gaffield Children’s Garden


By Hannah Smith

The Gaffield Children’s Garden is a wonderful place that provides a variety of hands-on environmental education experiences for children. One of the goals of the garden is to spark an interest in nature with kids and inspire them to beceome the future stewards of our planet.

A recent project in the garden was the transformation of the former butterfly garden into a pollinator garden, with a focus on native pollinators such as mason bees. Mason bees will also benefit the Grower’s Garden section of the Gaffield as they are great pollinators of food crops.

The habitats that the Wolverine Pathways
 students built for the Gaffield.
The tunnels are different heights
and sizes to allow multiple sizes
of bees to make their homes there.
For nature-based learning, mason bees provide the perfect starting point: they are solitary, non-stinging, non-swarming, and they prefer to seek out and live in habitats built and provided by humans. Their houses are small and easy to build, low maintenance, and easy to get up close to and watch since the bees are so friendly.

We decided that having mason bee habitats in the children’s garden would be beneficial both for the plants and for the educational opportunity that these bees offer. Since the houses are easy to build and a great learning tool, we thought of ways that visitors could incorporate them into their own lives outside of the children’s garden. I designed two activities. The first was with the Wolverine Pathways Scholars who visited Matthaei in July. For the Scholars’ visit we built mason bee habitats to install in the Gaffield. The other activity was created for Things with Wings, our annual family festival that celebrates winged creatures. For Things with Wings kids built their own houses to put in their gardens at home. (Two reason why, if you saw me any time in July, I probably had a bucket of bamboo in hand!)

To build the houses, we cut bamboo into 4- to 8-inch pieces (special thank you to everyone who helped me cut and hollow out bamboo pieces) and tied groups of them together with wire and twine. These bamboo tunnels are where the mason bees lay their eggs. As the bees go about setting up their households, you can watch them collect nectar, leaves, mud, and other materials from the garden and fill their individual tunnels with them. Many of the interns attended the field trip in July at Michigan State University, where one of the gardens housed a “Wild Bee Hotel” built by MSU hort staff.

I noticed as I worked with younger kids in Things with Wings, and then older students in Wolverine Pathways, that many understand what happens in plants during the pollination process. They also were aware that pollinators are good things, but at the same time weren’t so keen on the idea of having tons of bees flying around. Both the younger and older kids were interested to learn that these bees are very friendly, and after discussing the real importance of pollination the students seemed to be more enthusiastic about pollinators as a whole—and that having pollinators around doesn’t necessarily mean getting stung.

Helping kids build their houses
at Things With Wings.
As we assemnbled theme we
focused on explaining how
the habitats work and why
they are important.
The mason bee houses will be installed in the Gaffield around April 2017 when the bees’ working season begins and visitors will be able to watch this amazing process take place. Our hope is that the presence of the bee houses in the children’s garden will offer something new that kids may not have learned or experienced before, spark some interest or excitement about it, and inspire them to be stewards of native pollinators in their own lives. My hope is that providing an activity at Things with Wings, where kids built bee houses to install in their own gardens, will allow them to watch the process in their own backyards and get interested and inspired.

A mason bee pokes its head out of the end of its home.


The “Wild Bee Hotel” in action at
Michigan State Botanic Gardens.
They shared with us that they have
over thirty species that visit their
hotel in a day – I’d love to see
something to this extent in our
garden eventually!


Incorporating mason bee houses into your garden is an easy way to watch and learn about pollination. Providing habitats for our native bees makes it easier for them to do their jobs, and it helps the plants immensely. And it’s a bonus that the mason bees and their miniature houses also make a cute beautiful and visually striking addition to any garden!


















Hannah Smith, from Northville, Michigan, is entering her senior year majoring in Program in the Environment and minoring in sustainability with a specialization in environmental policy. Hannah is working as an intern in the Gaffield Children’s Garden.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Student Open House



On Sunday, August 7th, parents and donors enjoyed an afternoon of celebrating the hard work of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum summer student interns. The program began with a luncheon, including a slide show of summer photos and short presentations by interns Sam Pilon and Zach Gizicki, and donor Jeff Post. Following lunch, interns scattered throughout the display gardens to show off their summer projects, which range from visitor services, maintenance, restoration, and more! The afternoon also included a brief performance by intern Jared Aslakson, who is a competitive and professional bagpiper. We thank our summer student interns for all of their help in continuing our mission of developing leaders and encouraging people to care about nature and enrich life on earth.

Below are some photographs of interns and their parents, bagpiping intern Jared Aslakson, interns posing with their posters, and a few beauty shots of Matthaei in its late-summer glory.
Matthaei-Nichols Membership program hosted the Student Open House Luncheon
Sam Pilon, intern, speaking about her summer internship experiences at the Student Open House Luncheon
Zach Gizicki, intern, speaking about his work as the Julie Norris Post Heathdale Intern
Jeff Post, donor, speaking about the importance of the Julie Norris Post Heathdale collection to him and his family 
Bob Grese, Director, interacting with Doug Ham, intern, and his fiancee
Stevia Morawski, intern, presenting her poster
Staff and students discussing poster presentations
Enjoying the Gateway Garden
Interns, parents, and staff interacting
Sam Pilon, intern
Hannah Smith, intern
John Bradtke, intern, presenting his poster
Relaxing in the Commons
Katie Hammond, intern, posing for a photo during a game of croquet, while Jared Aslakson heads to the Great Lakes Gardens for his bagpipe performance
Gateway Garden
Adrienne O'Brien, staff, and Tom Porter, donor, chatting on the Terrace
Gateway Garden fountain
Jared Aslakson, intern, performing bagpipes in the Great Lakes Gardens