When arriving at Moore Farms Botanical Garden you are greeted with an array of things. At the bus entrance, you are welcomed by a driveway aligned with beautiful Crepe Myrtle trees adorned with pink blossoms. Through our front entrance at New Zion Road, you are met with large agricultural fields stretching across the garden entry route. If you look closely, you will see bees gathering pollen and nectar for their survival as they pollinate the crepe myrtle’s flowers, or a rabbit or two racing across an open field. This is just a glimpse into many of the animals and organisms that help our garden grow.
After the trees and open fields, there so many more things to be found in the garden from plants of many varieties, vegetables, a green house, ponds, meadows and last, but not least – wildlife. Yes, you read that correctly wildlife! Most of these creatures are beneficial and can be regarded as an asset to the garden.
As I thought of topics to write about I asked a few friends, family and co-workers what to write on. I usually got the same answer: flowers or plants. I realized that when most people think of a garden they think of beautiful flowers and plants, but there is so much more than that! What are they forgetting? The WILDLIFE of course! This inspired my post. There are so many insects, birds and organisms that play a part in serving a garden. Many of these organisms go unnoticed so this blog post will explore a few of them.
Some of our wildlife consists of bees, spiders, frogs, ducks, rabbits and deer. Some of these animals are pictured. Before working at Moore Farms Botanical Garden, I regarded many of these animals as pest, but after watching the garden grow and change every day due to some of these assets, it has changed my mind.
Bees! Bees are some of nature’s best pollinators! If it were not for bees, gardens would not have nearly as many beautiful flowers or nutritious vegetables. The bees and plants benefit from each other. The bees depend on flowers for nutrition and the flowers become pollinated as the bees carry pollen from plant to plant. This process is called cross-pollination and it is vital for flowers to produce seeds. This really intrigued me as I saw hundreds of bees one June morning, buzzing all over our formal garden and on some of my favorite plants such as our Spider Lilies and Hibiscus.
Spiders are one thing that I was definitely afraid of (besides Daddy-Long-Legs of course), but now I realize they do more good than harm. If there is one thing I dislike more than spiders, it is mosquitoes. Did you know that spiders actually help control mosquitoes, flies, moths, beetles and wasps? Luckily, I have never been stung by a wasp or any kind of insect while exploring the garden and I think this is due to the gracious spiders! The spiders do their job as they spin webs that catch insects. So, think twice before ridding your garden of any “pesky” spiders.
Frogs and Toads:
While capturing photos of tadpoles in our ponds and our tomatoes in the vegetable garden, I have seen so many beautiful tree frogs blending in with the leaves of our tomatoes. Believe it or not, frogs and toads are beneficial to a garden or anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors. Their purpose is very similar to the spiders – ridding the garden of insects. They eat thousands of pests, including pesky mosquitoes and flies. Fun fact: A single adult toad can eat as many as 10,000 insects per summer!
There are over 15 wood ducks and mallards here in our fishing ponds. Ducks usually are not thought as beneficial to a garden, but research has shown otherwise. Ducks are great if you have ever struggled with slugs or tomato hornworms in your garden plot. Most other birds, such as chickens, will eat beetles and earthworms, but usually not slugs or beetles. Due to the duck’s bug-based diet, they will chase them down and eat them with enthusiasm!
Many people would not consider rabbits to be beneficial to a garden, because they often eat garden produce. During warmer seasons and peak times for gardens, rabbits will eat weeds, preventing their impact. Weeds reduce plant productivity as they invade crops and compete with plants for water, nutrients and sunlight which results in the plant failing or poor being of poor health. Also, a rabbit’s waste is composed of broken-down hay fibers, which is clean and free from bacteria that are harmful to our environment or people. Their waste is very beneficial to the soil!
Before working at Moore Farms Botanical Garden, I thought of many of these animals, arachnids, insects and amphibians as pest, but they are so much more! From capturing photos of many of these organisms, I have truly learned about them and their benefits to a garden but most importantly, the environment. From the Fire Tower Center and Formal Garden to the Green Roof and Living Wall – just to name some of my personal favorites – there is beneficial wildlife everywhere! You just have to look for it.
Content and photographs by Morris Edward Brown IV, MFBG Events and Marketing Assistant