The Ralph Archer Woodland Garden at Whitehall Estate Gardens

The Ralph Archer Woodland Garden at Whitehall has been a Master Gardener project for many years.  The garden contains the largest regional collection of ferns thanks to long time Master Gardener, Ralph Archer.
On Saturday, June 24, Carolyn Waters, who has a masters degree in environmental education, led two tours through the garden to show how the garden is habitat for flora, fauna, and environmental processes beyond ferns. Carolyn pointed out trees of various ages and sizes which provide layers attractive to birds. Carolyn, who lives on the property, has seen Baltimore orioles, scarlet tanagers, golden crowned kinglets, nuthatches, and many varieties of wrens in this garden.
She demonstrated forest succession by identifying trees that had come onto the property first after the site was cleared, and the trees that followed such as several species of oaks and hickories. In recent years, those trees were intentionally planted to speed up the evolution to a later succession woodland.
Carolyn explained how a naturalized garden like Whitehall's woodland garden expands biodiversity, giving a home to both native and exotic, but not invasive plants.  Retention of dead trees, decaying logs, wood mulch, and duff gives habitat for both animals and plants.
Future plans include diversion and retention of storm runoff and a water feature which collects rain water that will slowly drain into a small bog already in existence.
During the tour, Whitehall's new stone benches, collected from a local farm on the Ohio River, were used by the tour visitors and by one of Whitehall's resident cats, Grady.
Visit Whitehall Gardens at 3110 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY

2017 Master Gardener Class – Info Sessions July 11th and 18th!


Interested in becoming a Master Gardener?

Information sessions for the 2017 Master Gardener class will be held on July 11th and July 18th at 6pm at the Louisville Grows Healthy House, 1641 Portland Ave. Louisville, KY 40203. Reserve your spot for the July 11 session at:  Reserve your spot for the July 18 session at:

You must attend one of these informational sessions to pick-up all paperwork required for your class registration. All questions about classes, including up-to-date information about cost will be covered in these sessions.

Who teaches the Master Gardener program? What are the requirements?

The Master Gardener program is facilitated by the Jefferson County Extension Office and the Jefferson County Master Gardener Association. Most classes are taught by professors from UK and KSU, and by extension agents in surrounding counties. Certification requires participation in classes, passing a final exam, and completion of 30 volunteer hours in your first year as an intern. 15 volunteer hours are required annually after your first year to maintain your certification.

Master Gardeners is a service-focused organization. Participants in the class are required to volunteer for approved projects regularly. If you are not interested in community service then this program is not for you.

All interested participants must complete a background check (processed by UK) and all required paperwork to be considered for participation in the class. 30 seats are available in the Fall 2017 class.

When and where are the classes?

Classes and labs are on Tuesday evenings (6-8pm) and Saturday mornings (10am-12pm) beginning August 15th and ending October 21st. All classes will be held at the Louisville Grows Healthy House, 1641 Portland Ave. Louisville, KY 40203, except for an occasional lab or field trip.

What types of topics do the classes cover?

Classes incorporate a broad range of topics including entomology, beekeeping, aquaculture, tree pruning, composting, propagation, native plants, and many others.

Can children participate in the class?

Classes are for adults only and participants must be 18 years or older.

Insect Hotel at the Louisville Nature Center

We have bee action at the Louisville Nature Center Insect Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky!  The queen in the picture is laying eggs in her nest.

Other bees were in various stages of egg laying, depositing pollen and creating mud partitions.  I did not have a chance to see any of them outside of their logs so I was unable to make a positive ID by just peering at them down the dark hole with a flashlight.  With 4000 native bee species in North America, it would be difficult to even venture a guess without getting a good look.  These native bees were here long before settlers brought honey bees from Europe.

The gardens at the Louisville Nature Center provide pollen and nectar and the bees, messy little pollinators that they are, give back by cross-pollinating flower gardens, vegetable gardens, trees and orchards, both at LNC and in the surrounding community.

The hotel was established by a Boy Scout troop a few years ago and has successfully provided homes for insects and native bees.  Weather elements have caused some settling of the materials, so a renovation is in order.  This will occur in the Fall, while the "guests" are asleep.  My goal is to create as much native bee habitat as possible.

Insect Hotel

Queen Bee

Materials I am gathering for the rehab include: bark, pine needles, pine cones, and logs. I am currently cutting logs and drilling the preferred-sized holes for solitary bees to nest in. Add a few canes to the collection and I'll be ready to update the hotel habitat.

Slabs of bark, pine cones & pine needles

Queen Bee nests in logs

Blue Orchard Mason Bees and Alfalfa Leafcutter Bees, among many others, are fascinating to watch and can be easily assisted by providing simple habitat. They are gentle bees and rarely sting (unless squished, of course). Did you know that you can harvest their cocoons, store them over winter, and then hatch them in the Spring? This is definitely on my "To Do" list!

Mason Bees plug their nests with mud

As I explore their world to learn more, I will be writing about the different types of bees, their nesting habits, cocoon harvesting and suggestions for providing homes and other necessary supplies, such as flowers and mud. Keep your eyes peeled for native bees and you will begin to see their diversity.

I welcome you to journey along with me as I gather and share information about these gentle, vital creatures. Happy bee watching!

Submitted by Master Gardener Tina Larimore

Gardening Educational Opportunities

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Gardenaganza 2017 April 30, 11:00am – 3:00pm

A Collaboration at the Louisville Home, Garden and Remodeling Show 2017

The Jefferson County Master Gardener Association shared in a collaborative effort with Urban Forestry and Louisville Grows at the Louisville Home, Garden, and Remodeling Show at the KY Expo Center on March 3 – 5, 2017. Urban Forestry had 4000 red oak and black oak bare root saplings that we wrapped, bagged and gave away during the Home Show. It was a huge success.

There were 502 people who stopped at our booth for information about trees and tree give away events including JCMGA Arbor Day Tree Give Away on Saturday, April 22. Flyers were given out about Gardenaganza on Sunday, April 30. Information was shared about soil testing, vegetable and flower gardening and how to attract pollinators.

The Garden Stage presentations were very well received. A huge thank you to our JCMGs, Julia Wall and June Sandercock, and Whitney Sewell, Director of Urban Agriculture, from Louisville Grows, who presented at the Garden Stage at the Home Show. It was an awesome success in building community awareness of the Jefferson County Master Gardeners, the Jefferson County Extension Service as well as Urban Forestry and Louisville Grows while helping make a difference in the tree canopy in Jefferson County.
#treegiveaway #urbanforestry #urbanforestry #louisvilleGrows

Sensory Garden at the Louisville Nature Center – off season

Louisville Nature Center Sensory Garden Summary for 2016

The LNC Sensory Garden flourished in 2016.  Never have we had such robust plants and so many plant volunteers emerge from the rich soil.  We never would have dreamed that this garden would be so lush and inviting in just a few short years!

We always start out our new year with a planning meeting where we go over our goals and wishes for the garden.  Our main goal for 2016 was to create a frog pond so that we could attract more amphibians to the garden.  Digging the pond turned out to be very difficult due to the soil which contained a lot of gravel and rocks.  We even found a few large cobblestones that looked like they could have been used for a foundation to a building. Digging took several months of hard labor, mainly provided by MG Gary Michael. This project has been very educational for all of us.  To our disappointment we only had a few tadpoles this year due to our late start.  We hope that 2017 will be the year of many!  We also had three small turtles (we assume someone released them into the pond), and dragonfly larvae (who knew that the larvae looks like crawfish?) who both eat frog eggs and tadpoles!  We got lots of plants donated for the pond to make it more appealing to the creatures.  We look forward to 2017 when an Eagle Scout will finish a cedar fence that will surround the pond.

In April the Master Gardeners and other LNC volunteers participated in the Mayor’s Day of Giving by mulching the SG. This is always a large task so the help from the public was appreciated!  The soil in the garden is very rich in nutrients now due to the mulching each year.

Every spring we invite the Dreams with Wings folks to come and plant one of our raised beds with annuals.  We always choose annuals for their bright colors, scents, and textures. This is a very fun program enjoyed by all. The other raised bed is planted with tomatoes and other veggies, many of which were enjoyed by the deer and raccoons!

This year LNC participated in the Louisville Free Public Library’s Cultural Pass Program which meant hundreds of visitors for the Sensory Garden.  LNC participated by offering youths a chance to go on a scavenger hunt and receive prizes.  The names were then entered in an August drawing for a free family membership to LNC.

In the summer LNC had a butterfly release in the Sensory Garden where many participants were able to tag and release a Monarch butterfly.  The SG has always had many species of butterflies including the Monarch, American Painted Lady, Clouded Sulphur, many types of Swallowtail, Red Spotted Purple, and more.  Zebra Swallowtail caterpillars were found on the Pawpaw trees in the garden.  Three Pawpaws were planted in 2015. Sadly, drought conditions in 2016 meant hand watering the trees.  We then had trouble with some deer who decided they liked the foliage.  We are guessing that no one told them that they weren’t supposed to like Pawpaw leaves!  It all paid off with a Zebra Swallowtail, or more, laying eggs on the trees this year.  This butterfly is an uncommon breeder in the Metro area because they lay eggs on Pawpaw, an uncommon urban tree.  Once eggs hatched, the caterpillars were monitored.  The LNC staff gave MG Gary Michael four to rear at home, which were raised to the butterfly stage and released in the Sensory Garden.

Gary also nurtured an injured pupa monarch that was saved after it fell into the concrete pond at the SG.  He took it home and placed it in his cool basement and increased the humidity.  The pupa had a gash so Gary covered the gash with a bandage gauze and then attached tape over the gauze.  He used extra tape to secure the pupa inside the hatchery.  The bandage and tape prevented further desiccation at the wound.  The pupa insect naturally moves and vibrates a bit, so the extra tape was used to keep the gauze from being rolled off.  The butterfly emerged and was released on a butterfly bush after a few meals of orange Gatorade!

We continued our task of labeling plants in the garden so that they can be easily identified.

The summer at the SG is always a busy time with many visitors enjoying its beauty and serenity.  There are neighbors who visit every day, out of town visitors on vacations, children on a field trip at camp, mothers and dads with little ones in tow, all enjoying this beautiful space.

The late summer, early fall, brings on a multitude of students and teachers from the LNC camps. They are looking for that special leaf, or that flower that still has gorgeous bright colors, or the herb that has a fragrance enjoyed by all.  This garden is like an open book that draws you in to enjoy its many layers of beauty and wondrous creatures!

We don’t rest in the fall since there are still jobs that need to be done to put the garden down for its nice long nap.  The raised beds are cleaned out of all the veggies and annuals to help prevent disease from rotting plants.  The banana trees were cut back and mulched over to protect them from the freezing winter temperatures. The seeds on most of the plants are left for the overwintering birds in the garden.

In November the Sensory Garden Group presented a program on Caring for Trees in conjunction with the LNC Free Tree Giveaway.  The many trees offered in the giveaway were described so that the attendees could choose the right trees for their yards.  This program will be repeated again in the spring of 2017.

Many thanks to the Sensory Garden Group for making this garden a fun educational venue for its many visitors.  We are lucky to be able to work in this beautiful setting and talk with the many folks from the community, answering gardening questions, and showing off our little gem of a garden!

So, come sit a spell, relax, and enjoy the many sights, sounds, and fragrances that the Louisville Nature Center Sensory Garden has to offer!

Submitted by Janie Kanzler

Herbology at Hogwarts

At the Main Library on July 30 from 8pm till midnight, Master Gardeners Molly Brewer and Patti Van Cleave were Professors Molicanthus and Philodendra Fluxweed. They are not in the books or movies. They teach Herbology at Hogwarts and were sent to America to help teach Herbology at Ilvermornay, the North American School of Witches and Wizardry. They conducted 4 sessions of "Herbology at Hogwarts" and 4 sessions of "How to Plant a Hogwarts Garden" during that 4-hour time period.

Those attending the presentations put their contact info in Molly's cauldron. At midnight a name was drawn as the winner of the Baby Mandrake. The lucky winner lives in St Matthews. The Baby was delivered to her house.

Sample garden ornaments for the Hogwarts Garden were made by Patti's and Molly's family members.

Part of planting that type of garden is to sprinkle magic dust over the garden. Molly made 120 packets of magic dust (a mix of black sand and sparkles) for those attending the Garden presentation. Instructions were given on how to take a soil sample using soil sample bags from the Jefferson County Extension Service.

There were 201 attendees for the sessions, organized through the collaboration between LFPL and the JCMGA Community Education Committee.  The library counted more than 2000 people of all ages who attended the Harry Potter Book Reveal Party.  Nearly everyone was in costume for the costume contest. The beautiful, recently cleaned library was decorated to look like the Harry Potter books and movies. A good time was had by all!

Photos from the Lessons Learned-Monarch Waystation Tours