Thursday, February 12, 2015


I'm happy to announce that as of February, 2015, the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden will have some new coordinators.  My good friends and nature lovers, Pandra Williams, Jeff Killingsworth, Lauren Sandoval and Beech Hollow Farms  will be adopting the Garden via Park Pride.

(Photo:  Lauren, far left, Carol, front, left, Jeff, center, Pandra, second from right.)

All three have had a long term commitment to restoring native habitats and to community education.    Pandra currently manages Beech Hollow Farms, a nursery for native plants, which works with communities and organizations to restore native greenspaces.   Beech Hollow Farm is a 120 acre native plant farm just outside Lexington, Ga.    The Farm is the culmination of a nearly decade long mission to save and propagate plants from the metro Atlanta area threatened by development and invasive species.  Pandra has also been the driving force behind EcoAddendum,  an organization whose focus has been on education and restoration of native species for pollinators, birds and, butterflies

Jeff is the Nursery Manager at Beech Hollow Farms and is in the process of getting his certificate in native plant studies at the State Botanical Garden    He previously worked at EcoAddendum in a similar position.    Jeff has been a long term gardener and has been studying ecology centered books for many years.

Lauren, in her day job, is the Youth Education Manager at Trees Atlanta.  The Youth Education program uses the Freedom Park Garden as an environmental education tool with students at May Lin Elementary School just up the hill..   Previously Lauren has also worked at EcoAddendum where she was closely involved with management and community education projects.

I'll be stepping back as Garden Coordinator immediately.    I've had that position for many years, since the first plant was put in the Garden in the spring of 2005.  The Garden was enlarged three times over the years and now has over 40 species of native plants established there.  Thanks to Al Hurt of Audubon we have an active  bluebird box on site.  There is also a bird bath for visitors to take a dip in (birds only please).

The DeKalb Master Garden Association and the Atlanta Aududbon Society helped to get the garden started.    The Master Garderner Association left a few years ago to go on to other projects. Over the years many neighborhood individuals and organizations helped to keep the garden going.   They are too numerous to name here but I can only say how grateful I've been for their help!

I feel the community is very lucky to have Pandra. Jeff and Lauren taking things over and am very grateful that they decided to do so.   I know they will bring a great deal of knowledge, enthusiasm, dedication and energy to the project.  They are committed environmentalists and have a  special interest in pollinators    I can't wait to see their vision for the Garden come into being.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Freedom Park Garden Update July 2013

We're baack!   Sorry for the long delay on the Update.  I blame it on climate change-or Canada.
At any rate I am back on the job and will tell you, briefly, what's been going on.
The Garden is doing well. Spring bloomers included butterfly weed, St john's wort, milkweed, wine cups, hawk-weed, and larkspur, pictured from top to bottom in June 16 article below.  Bluebirds again nested in our bluebird box (thanks to Art Hurt who put the box up and to Meta Larsson, our local reporter who keeps an eye on it).
Eighty fourth grade students at Mary Lin Elementary School recently planted over 120 plants in the Garden under the auspices of the Trees Atlanta new Youth Education Program.  Lauren Sandoval, Coordinator of the program, said that Trees Atlanta, "is very excited" about the program which will be done in many Atlanta schools.  For further information contact Lauren at 404 681-4898.   See pictures of the event in May 19 post below.
On March 19 we gave a presentation on the Garden to the Candler Park Neighborhood Association.    CPNO was very impressive. Hope we were to them as well.

Last July members from surrounding neighborhoods got together and weeded and mulched the  Garden. The event was organized by Barry Atwood, Volunteer Coordinator for the Freedom Park Improvement Committee. Yes, pictures here.
The DeKalb Master Gardener's Association has moved on the other projects and so will no longer be affiliated with the garden. Thanks much to them and to Phil Edwards, without whom there would be no garden.
The Freedom Park Improvement Committee, a subcommittee of the Freedom Park Conservancy, has stepped in to fill the gap. Carol Gregory of that committee will be the volunteer coordinator for the garden.
Atlanta Audubon Society will continue to be involved. There is a link to our blog on their website,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June Bloomers in the Garden!

Summer is here and there's some flower action-maybe even power-at the garden.  Pictures of native plants that bloomed in early June included  orange butterfly weed,  yellow St. John's Wort,  pink common milkweed ( a Monarch favorite), magenta wine cups  (bottoms up), bright orange Hawkweed (tinier than it looks in photo),  and last but not least, the eye catching purple Larkspur (though it does look blue in the photo).


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mary Lin, Trees Atlanta Youth Education Program at work in garden!

Fourth grade classes at Mary Lin Elementary School recently planted over 120 plants in the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden under the auspices of the Trees Atlanta new Youth Education Program. The planting, which involved 80 students, was the finale of the yearlong project. There were 3 Artscapes leading up to the planting which highlighted Urban Forests, Food Webs and Native Plants. According to Lauren Sandoval, Youth Education Coordinator for Trees Atlanta, “the project was a great success which resulted in a beautiful planting day at a garden right in the students’ backyard…we added beauty to the community, made a lot of wildlife and pollinators happy and utilized the garden as an educational tool.” Lauren added that “Trees Atlanta is very excited” about this new program and will be participating with many other schools in the future. The program’s goal is to “cultivate environmental stewards for a life time.”  Native plants included Purple Hyssop, Celandine Poppy, Bee Balm, Milk Weed, Obedient Plant, Black-eyed Susan, Rue Anemone and Blue Lobelia.   You can contact Lauren for further information about the program at

Pictured below are (top to bottom) Obedient Plant in bloom,  Lauren teaching students at the Garden,  students studying the chalkboard agenda, Bee Balm (Monarda) in bloom.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden Workday,  Saturday, July 14, 2012


On July 14th members from surrounding neighborhoods got together and weeded and mulched the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden. The event was organized by Barry Atwood, Volunteer Coordinator for the Freedom Park Improvement Committee.

Pictured in top photo, back row, are (standing) Barry Atwood, Tom Painter, Jane Merk, Robert Madlem, Michael Bell, Teresa Cox and Bernard Cox and front row, Robert McCloud and Carol Vanderschaaf.     Photo taken by Billy Davis (pictured in next photo)

Second photo:   Robert Madlem and Billy Davis. 

Third photo:  Robert Madlem,  Barry Atwood and  John Ahern.

Last photo:  The finished product!

Neighborhoods represented were Candler Park, Lake Claire and Old Fourth Ward.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Freedom Park Garden Summer/Fall Update 2011

Lets start with the big news: we made it through the summer!
In spite of weeks of drought most of our native plans managed to survive and that, in part, due to Dorothy Dabbs, Jane Merkle and Knapp Wilkins,  jug handlers extradinaire, who helped to water the garden.

Many of our natives are beginning to thrive as they reach maturity. Our winterberries have,  yes, bright red berries on them, a feast for Northern Mockingbirds, American Robins, Gray Catbirds and Cedar Waxwings. The pink Gaura are blooming and tempting lots of bees and other bugs. We have several goldenrod plants in the process of blooming. The first of these bloomers is the Golden Fleece Goldenrod whose sprays of small yellow flowers attract butterflies and bugs as well as the hummers who fly in to slurp up a dinner of those unsuspecting bugs. The Obedient Plants have lovely violet blooms this year, and are obediently seducing butterflies and bumblebees.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) did a fly-by at the garden on August 6th,   a first for us.   Thanks to Tom Blakely, for the ID.   Tom’s own Lake Claire yard, BTW, has been certified as an Audubon Wildlife Habitat.   Donna Latham and I recently put up a hummingbird feeder in the garden hoping for more of them during this migration period.

A little more about hummers:   The Ruby-Throated is the only hummer native to Georgia and the Eastern United States.   Hummingbirds species,   like Wild Turkeys,  are true natives,   only found in the Americans.   Imagine the amazement of the first European settlers at the small size of the birds as well as their flying abilities: they fly backward, forward, up and down, and side to side, as well as stand still in midair.

According to June Osborne in The Ruby-throated Hummingbird,   the Taino people of the Bahamas (the first tribe encountered by Christopher Columbus in the New World) called the little bird "sky spirit," "magic sky bird," "god bird," or "sun god bird."

Native Americans used real hummingbirds as ear adornments to signify a person's importance.   The bird’s iridescent feathers were considered so beautiful that they were to be flaunted.   Rubythroat skins were revered and were exclusively reserved for the tribal leaders.   In Mexico, the Aztec war god was recognized by the bracelet of dazzling hummingbird feathers on his left wrist. Members of Aztec royal families wore cloaks of glittering hummingbird feathers.

But let us not feel superior to the peoples of the past, thinking them primitive in their choices.   Later, in the nineteenth century,   rubythroat skins,  as well as those of other hummingbirds, were in high demand to be used as decorations on women's hats,  bags,  jewelry, fans and gowns in Europe and in the New World.

Hummingbird migration should be over by November 1st.   If you see one after that date please notify the Georgia Hummer Hotline at 770 784 1636.   And think about keeping your feeders up all winter. You may be lucky and attract a wandering western species.

We also recently hosted a Pearl Crescent Butterfly (Phyciodes tharos),  a butterfly found over most of the country (Photo right).   Thanks to Malcolm Hodges for the definitive ID.   This butterfly prefers any open area, where most of its host plants can be found.   Its favorite host (or hostess) is the aster,  where the adult butterfly can find nectar and the caterpillar can munch the leaves.   Its overall pattern is orange with dark brown, almost black, markings,  but that pattern is very variable over the species.    The pattern can also can vary from place to place and from season to season.   This species has several broods throughout the year, from April–November in the north, and throughout the year in the Deep South.   It over winters as an adult in warmer climes and as a caterpillar in cooler places.

My co-coordinator, Phil Edwards, DeKalb Master Gardener Association, has been busy putting in new plants in the butterfly area.   Among them, he’s planted 3 Butterfly Weeds, (Asclepias tuberosa), members of the milkweed family (Photo below).   The flowers of the Butterfly Weed are a nectar source for many butterflies, bees and other insects as well as for the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Monarch butterflies depend on this plant for their entire life cycle,  from caterpillar to adult.   Butterfly Weed needs to be distinguished from Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii). The former is a native plant, the latter an introduced species which is of little use to Monarchs.

Butterfly Weed has a bright yellow or orange bloom from June through August.   Some species bloom even later.   It’s a drought tolerant plant and likes full sun and dry soil.   It’s the only milkweed with alternate leaves.   Its seed pods burst open in the fall and the seeds gradually fly away on their silky parachutes.   Like most milkweeds the juice is milky white.

Butterfly Weed was called pleurisy root in the past in reference to a prior medicinal use of the plant roots to treat lung inflammations.   The pods of milkweeds may be eaten if boiled twice discarding the first water to remove the bitter taste.   Wow, doesn’t that sound yummy.

Well, its fall so can winter be far behind?   We do have some tasks ahead of us and if we accomplish them I’ll be sure to tell.   We will be putting in some new plants later in the fall and can always use some help to do so……if you’d like to volunteer at the garden please email me at    We'd love to have you!

Carol Vanderschaaf
Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden
Atlanta Audubon Society

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden Spring, 2011

News flash!  Its raining!! It was the evening of June 15th as I began this update. It hadn’t rained for at least 8 weeks and suddenly …… wonderful! I emailed our trusty volunteer, Diane Shellack, who was poised to come down from her Roswell home in the am to water the new plants. Diane, who is a trouper, agree to take a rain check. Then I checked my rain barrels which had been down to their last drop and happily saw the rainwater pouring in them from the gutter spouts.

Extra, extra! Our mascot’s photo has been kidnapped again, that little imp with the tear in its eye for our disappearing habitat. The mystery-is the mascot loved or hated? Who is the culprit? In my investigation I did find out who gave us the original picture of the imp-it was Robert McLeod, neighbor across the street. He had placed it in the butterfly area and we loved his sweet addition. That picture was taken many months ago. But never fear, Fans of the Mascot, and do fear, you vile mascotnapper, I have many digital photos of the imp on my computer and the imp will appear again as soon as I get some colored ink. And on to the garden itself…..

New plants have been put in during the spring include 2 native azaleas, 12 Christmas Ferns, an Inkberry plant, some Black-eyed Susans and Blanket Plants.

Spring bloomers: Cup Plant (yellow), Milkweed (pink), Mohawk Viburnum (white), Fringed Bleeding Heart (pink), Wine Cups (magenta), Cumberland Rosemary (purple), Sweet Mock Orange, (white) and Thrift (purple).

Birds: My main function at the garden over the last months has been to water the new plants (the established plants are mostly taking care of themselves) so I hadn’t a chance to do much bird watching. I did see a House Finch, and the resident American Robin, as well as heard the White-breast4ed Nuthatch and Red-bellied Woodpecker. Phil Edwards, my co-coordinator, reports seeing a Brown Thrasher and a Red-headed Woodpecker in addition to Bluebirds in the nest box, the latter also reported by our roving correspondent, Meta Larsson.

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) (See photo) is our featured bird this month, in tribute to his/her loyalty to the garden, The robin, that most familiar bird, is a year round resident in Georgia. It is found all over North America, from Alaska to Florida, according to Birds of Georgia by Fred Tekiela, and is migratory the northern states. Here in Georgia the robin can have 2 to 3 broods a year of 4 to 7 eggs. Both parents build the nest. Incubation by the female takes from 12 to 14 days. Both mom and dad feed the new birds which fledge in 14 to 16 days.

Robins, by the way, do love human beings (Homo sapiens). Rather than enjoy natural habitats like forests and open prairies, robins run-excuse me-fly to the nearest urban and suburban lawns. And why? Its a great place to find worms! And how do they find them, in case you want to try? According to extensive research by scientist Dr. Frank Heppner, they use their vision, not smell nor hearing, so put your eyes to the ground.

Life on the lawn is not entirely a good thing for robins. Lead in our lawns, leftover from the days of leaded paint and gasoline, often sticks to the skins of worms which the birds ingest. Studies show that city robins have twice as much lead in their bloodstreams as country birds. Also the antibodies of West Nile Virus are prevalent in the blood of robins which are apparently a mosquito’s favorite bite.

Robin populations, however, have slowly increased over the past 40 years. The bird’s ability to survive our unfortunate quest for new habitats has added to its numbers while at the same time many migratory bird populations have declined.

Butterflies: We feature the Silver Spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus), (See photo) as our butterfly this month. The Skipper is not a true butterfly though it looks like one, but is part of the family Hesperiiidae, which falls between butterfly and moth families. Skippers fly during the day as butterflies do, but like moths, have heavy bodies and dull colors. .The Silver-spotted Skipper almost never visits yellow flowers. It favors blue, red, pink, purple, and sometimes white and cream-colored ones, including common milkweed of which we have many in the garden.   .

Silver Spotted Skippers are resident throughout Georgia and have a very extensive range all over North America . They are active from February through December here. One of their host plants is the False Indigo which we have in the garden. Larval food includes the Black Locust. Larvae, yellow in color with brown heads, build their own individual shelters, using silk to tie leaves together. All this according to Butterflies of Georgia by Jaret C. Daniels.

Butterflies do seem scarce this spring. I haven’t seem many at the garden or in my yard; only the Cabbage White seems abundant. I’m wondering if others have had the same experience.

Our highlighted plant this quarter is Silphium connatum, the Cup Plant, (See photo) a member of the aster family. Its bright yellow flowers attract birds, insects and butterflies, particularly the Pipevine Swallowtail. The American Goldfinch loves its seeds. The Cup Plant likes full sun, is drought tolerant and prefers poor soil (wow-get me a bunch!). It grows to 8 to 10 feet tall and sports yellow flowers from June to August. It can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. The most fascinating thing about this plant is the fact that its large triangular leaves join at the base to form cups which can hold water. After a rainfall, birds can often be seen bathing in these cups.

The Cup Plant is native to Eastern and Central North America and grows in prairies, open woodlands and on stream banks. The genus name comes from an ancient Greek word for a plant of North African whose gum or juice was prized for medicinal use and as a condiment. Native peoples cooked the leaves and used them as a green; the Winnebagos believed this species had supernatural powers so we‘re keeping an eye on it. We have one cup plant, now blooming, in the garden.

We again call for volunteers to help water our new plants. All this involves is to carry about five gallon jugs over to the garden and water the plants that are marked with orange landscape flags. If you’re game enough to do so please let me know. Right now we couldn’t get along without the stalwart help of Dorothy Dabbs. A million thanks to Dorothy for her perseverance. And thanks, too, to Lisa Owens, and likewise to Knapp, who helps be with my home garden, as well, in addition the Freedom Park Garden.

Another cry for water:Mulberry Fields, a Candler Park Community Garden and green space, is having a fund raising drive to get money for installation of a water line and irrigation meter for their space. They are asking for donations and will also be having a benefit at the E. Church on July 31st. Please see their website at for complete details.

As I complete this update, on June 20th (OMG, now its almost summer!), it has rained twice since I started on June 15th. . Unfortunately the drought is predicted to come back again, so please remember our need for volunteers with jugs.

Thank you and happy gardening!

Carol Vanderschaaf


PS: If you want to be taken off this list, please email me.
PPS: And as I publish this update its the first day of summer!