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Monday, October 30, 2017

Post Family Vision for Trail Goes Back Two Decades

By Bob Grese, Director, Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum

Providing safe walking and bicycle access to Matthaei Botanical Gardens has been a long-standing dream. Among the earliest advocates for that dream were long-time Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum supporters Norris and Helen Post.
 
While they were working with Washtenaw County Parks to build the Hoyt Post Trail at Parker Mill in the 1990s, Norris and Helen envisioned an extension of that trail to connect with Matthaei Botanical Gardens, linking both important community and University of Michigan properties. Washtenaw County Parks explored a variety of possibilities for the trail to Matthaei, including a utility corridor and route along Dixboro Road.  More recently, support by Radrick Farms Golf Course and the Adventure Leadership Center allowed the route used for what has become our new trail linking Parker Mill County Park at the south end with Matthaei Botanical Gardens at the north.
 
Post family members Jeffrey Post &Nancy Carstens.
I am especially grateful for the partnership with Norris and Helen whose early vision led towards the
development of this trail. The Post family’s legacy of support continues, thanks to Jeffrey Post, Nancy Post Carstens, and Garry Post, whose generous contributions helped make the trail their parents envisioned a reality. Nancy and Jeffrey have personally created the Post Family Legacy Fund to help support the ongoing care and maintenance of the trail, and also provide a home for future contributions to be made by friends, family, and all passionate lovers of this trail!

In addition to providing a safe walking and biking route, by increasing access to the gardens this trail also helps us achieve our goal of engaging a more diverse group of people with nature. I know that all of our staff at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are delighted to have the trail open and see so many enthusiastic users now reaching Matthaei Botanical Gardens on foot or via bicycles! 



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Michigan: Progress Report 2017

Campus Farm Manager Jeremy Moghtader announced that the 2017 progress report for sustainable food systems is now available for viewing.

The report is the work of of Lilly Fink-Shapiro (Sustainable Food Systems Coordinator - U-M School for Environment and Sustainability), Alex Bryan (Director of the U-M Sustainable Food Program) and Jeremy (Campus Farm) pulling together info from all the groups doing work on campus around food.

Drew Horning, interim director of the Graham Sustainability Institute, had this to say about the report: "It's really impressive to see all of the food activity captured in an integrated way like this. This work continues to set the U-M standard for a coherent and compelling organization of topically specific sustainability work across campus. Nice job and continue the good work!"
 
Follow this link to read the report: Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Michigan: Progress Report 2017

The University of Michigan is in a unique position as a non-land-grant, tier-1 research institution with a strong and growing foundation in transdisciplinary sustainable food systems work. This report highlights the impacts from the collaboration of several different campus partners: 
  • Chapter 1. Research and Teaching (U-M Sustainable Food Systems Initiative)
  • Chapter 2. Student Leadership (U-M Sustainable Food Program)
  • Chapter 3. U-M Campus Farm
  • Chapter 4. U-M Dining and Operations

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens Trail is Open!

Although it was a very rainy morning, dozens of supporters came out to the grand opening celebration of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens Trail on Saturday, October 14. Visitors warmed up with Zingerman's coffee, enjoyed conversation with one another, and learned about bike repair from Common Cycle. Delightful comments and thank yous were shared by Director Bob Grese, Matthaei family lawyer and friend Ira Jaffe, Associate Director Karen Sikkenga, Ann Arbor Charter Township Supervisor Michael Moran, and DNR Trust Fund Grant Coordinator Merrie Carlock. InterimVice Provost Michael Solomon read a supportive letter written by University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel and Morgan Crowther, daughter of Regent Emeritus Fredrick Matthaei, Jr. engaged the crowd in a traditional Matthaei family chant.

Following the speeches, the ribbon was cut and the trail became officially open! National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Toyota Motor Company bicyclists and many walkers braved the weather and enjoyed a stroll down the trail. For more details about the Matthaei Botanical Gardens trail, click here.

Thank you to everyone who supported the trail through the planning process and attended the grand opening! We hope the people of Ann Arbor and our surrounding communities are able to enjoy the trail soon and often. See photos below from the grand opening:




















Photo credits to Scott Soderberg of Michigan Photography.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Vanilla Orchid Blooms in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens Conservatory

Several staff members recently noted that the vanilla orchid (Vanilla planifolia) growing in the tropical house of the conservatory had flower buds.

According to staff horticulturist Mike Palmer, it's been close to 30 years since there's been a blooming vanilla orchid in the conservatory. Mike says he thinks it was former staffer Connie Crancer who planted the orchid. The Vanilla planifolia orchid is native to Mexico.

Two blooming vanilla-orchid flowers in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens seen from the side and from below. It's a beautiful flower in its own right, but not particularly fragrant. And it definitely doesn't smell like vanilla.


It's not widely known that vanilla (the spice/flavoring) comes from an orchid, and a climbing vine at that. The first flowers of this orchid that was planted some 10 years ago are dangling from its vine on the yerba mate tree. Individual flowers only last a day or slightly more. Vanilla flavoring comes from the seed pod of the vanilla orchid. The pod is harvested and cured, which ferments and dries the pod. The result is the vanilla "bean" that we see in stores. Vanilla extract is made from beans that are soaked in an alcohol-based liquid such as brandy, rum, or vodka. 

Mike attempted to pollinate the vanilla flower. In nature, the flower is pollinated by a native bee. In order to ensure a steady supply of pods to meet the demand for this one-of-a-kind flavoring, most vanilla orchids are pollinated by hand. It's an elaborate, complicated process that instills a sense of appreciation for this flower and the bee that does the job in nature. Stay tuned for the result!

Some fun facts on vanilla:


1. It is the only orchid with an "edible" fruit.
2. It is difficult to get a fruit by hand pollination, unless you know the trick.
3. It is the second most expensive spice behind saffron.
4. The flowers or leaves do not smell like vanilla.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Celebrating the University of Michigan Bicentennial and Matthaei-Nichols long-time members by planting an oak tree at Matthaei Botanical Gardens


Long-time members of Matthaei-Nichols joined us on Friday, September 29 for an oak-tree planting that celebrated their support and the University of Michigan Bicentennial. Guests gathered in the auditorium at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for some great food, followed by a trip outside to plant the oak tree, a native white oak. Director Bob Grese, curator David Michener, and others spoke about the tree and our mission, and members and volunteers talked about what it means to be connected to and engage with the Arb and Gardens. Even the desserts were decorated with miniature candy oak leaves and acorns! 

Thanks to everyone for a beautiful evening - see photos below:

Catherine Andrea and Robin Mendenhall
Photo credit: Thor Helgeson
Group photo

The Bicentennial oak tree under the existing black cherry tree
Member Cathy Bach

Bob Grese and Denise Tanguay
Photo credit: Thor Helgeson
Volunteer and Member Dave Wooten

Delicious Desserts


Tree planting preparations



The Bicentennial oak tree


In celebration of the U-M Bicentennial and long-time members of Matthaei-Nichols, 2017.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Trail opens linking University of Michigan botanical gardens with campus and area trail systems

On Saturday, October 14, at 10 am, the newly constructed Matthaei Botanical Gardens Trail officially opened to the public! 

For directions to the botanical gardens click here.

The paved, 10-foot-wide trail runs approximately 2 miles roughly parallel to Dixboro Rd. Starting
A map showing the trail connecting from the
Washtenaw Border-to-Border trail and Gallup Park
from the botanical gardens, the trail travels through varied landscapes that include parts of the botanical gardens, Radrick Golf course, and the University of Michigan Adventure Leadership program grounds.

The completed trail caps a multi-year collaboration with government entities, corporations, the University of Michigan as well as multiple individuals and donors.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens Trail connects to the Washtenaw Border-to-Border trail system and beyond, and it provides safe, healthful, and nonmotorized transportation options for U-M staff and students and the general public to get to Matthaei from central campus and other areas.

Bikers, walkers, and strollers welcome are welcome on the trail. Dogs on leash are allowed on the trail.

The trail head begins near the U-M Campus Farm at the south entrance to the botanical gardens.

For directions to the botanical gardens click here.

Join us at: 

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Calling All Artists: Apply for the Holiday Artist Market at Matthaei Botanical Gardens





Holiday Artist Market: Sunday, December 3, 2017, 10 am - 4:30 pm
Application deadline: September 30, 2017 Notifications: October 18, 2017

Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum invites you to apply for our holiday artist market in December! Here's how it works: Submit your original, nature-inspired work for consideration---jewelry, sculpture, glass, photography, paintings, fiber, etc. We're looking for a variety of different arts and crafts at an affordable cost range. For a modest fee we supply you with a table and seating. You sell your art directly to the public, keep the proceeds, and garner the exposure to the U-M and local communities. For details read more below.


The details:

  • $30 per table. 
  • Each set-up includes one 6’ or 8’ table and chairs (see below for table size info). We set up the table and chairs prior to your arrival. Participating artists are required to be present at their booth for the duration of the market hours.
Extras: To enhance your booth, you may request to add on these extras. Supplies are limited.
  • Easel - $2 each
  • White table cloth - $5 (supplies limited)
  • An additional  4’ x2’ table, creates L-shaped table configuration  $15 (room 125 and auditorium only)
  • An additional  8’x18” table creates L-shaped table configuration  $15 (room 139 only)
  • An additional 8’ x 30” of floor space (good for sculpture or free standing display). $20


Rooms and tables:

Auditorium: The largest room, it will have 18-20 booths. Each booth has an 8’x30” table. The space behind and to the sides of the booth is very limited. Vendors should plan on keeping their booth and items contained to the table. This space can hold two L-shaped table configurations. with an extra 4” table (+$15) and one booth with extra 8’x30” of floor space ($20).
Room 139: The smallest room, it will have 6 booths. Each booth has a 6’x30” table. While the table is smaller there is more room behind and to the side of the booths. This space is good for easel displays and a less cramped space. This space can hold one L-shaped table configuration with an extra 6’x18” table (+$15).
Classroom 125: Room with 7 booths. Each booth has an 8’x35” table. The tables are directly next to each other but there is more room behind the booths. This space can hold two L-shaped table configuration with an extra 4” table (+$15).

To apply click here to fill out the application. Please fill out the application completely. Required fields are marked with a red asterisk *. Payment required upon acceptance. Once accepted, instructions for payment will be sent to you; payment is expected within a week of acceptance.

We look forward to your submissions!