Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Warm Welcome!

The Carolina Children's Garden welcomes Timothy "Tim" Nafziger as its new Outdoor Educator!  Tim holds a B.S. in Biological Science from Clemson (2007) and an M.S. in Entomology from Auburn (2010). His most recent work experiences include being a school program instructor at Roper Mountain Science Center, interpreter at Paris Mountain State Park and adjunct biology instructor at Greenville Tech. Tim hails from Greenville, SC, and will assume his new role on Tuesday, September 6th.

The Carolina Children's Garden and Conservation Station phone number, (803) 459-3212, will pass to Tim, as will the e-mail addresses for both  sites ( and

Welcome to Sandhill, Tim!


September Workday

Following a summer hiatus, Master Gardeners and community volunteers turned out in force for the September workday.  Included on the long list of the day's accomplishments were:
  • weeding
  • pruning
  • planting
  • installing a new ABC book in the Alphabet Garden
  • installing a new Peter Rabbit book in Mr. McGregor's Garden
  • installing six new Winnie-the-Pooh characters
  • re-installing the T. rex
Many thanks to everyone who turned out to lend a hand! 

Marie Daniels and Mary Kelley tend the Butterfly Garden

Maureen Mitchell and Joyce Tillman work in Mr. McGregor's Garden

Everyone takes a break!

A Fond Farewell

Dear Reader,

Hello.  I am Chanda, and for two years, I've served as the Naturalist/Educator at the Carolina Children's Garden and Conservation Station at Sandhill.  During my tenure at Sandhill, I've learned a lot, grown a lot, and made many new friends.  It's been a fun and wonderful experience.  Now, it's time for me to pass the torch to someone new.

In May of this year, I accepted a new job as Education Program Coordinator for the Richland County Environmental Planning Division.  The Division provides staff support to the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (which sponsors the Conservation Station) and the Richland County Conservation Commission (which helps to fund the education programs at the Carolina Children's Garden and Conservation Station through separate Community Conservation Grants).  Through those connections, I will still be affiliated with education programming at Sandhill, but on September 6th, 2011, a new Outdoor Educator will take my place to coordinate and present programs at the two sites.

The Carolina Children's Garden e-mail address,, will go to the new Educator, as will the phone number, (803) 459-3212.

To reach me, contact or (803) 576-2084.

In the words of Bilbo Baggins, "This is the end.  I am going now.  I bid you all a very fond farewell.  Goodbye."


Operation Inasmuch

A volunteer workforce from Living Springs Lutheran Church descended on the Children's Garden for Operation Inasmuch on Saturday, May 7th.  Church volunteers tackled a number of difficult projects in the Garden as well as in the adjacent Conservation Station, and their efforts made a huge difference to the two sites!

Dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Memories Dinosaur Garden received fresh coats of paint.  The T. rex was tickled pink!  

Wet Paint in the Mesozoic Memories Dinosaur Garden

Wayward saplings in Pooh's Corner were removed with shears and shovels.  

Best of all, the brick pathway at the Garden's entrance was repaired!  This is what the pathway looked like before repair...
During repair...
And after repair!

Workforce organizer, Karen Kranz, tidied the gardens around the stage. 

Helpers pulled weeds in the annual beds at the Three Bears' Homestead.  

 In the Conservation Station next door, two workers cleared the nature trail and removed old trail markers that posed a stumbling hazard, making the path safer for walkers!

These are the old trail markers which were removed and carted to the trailhead for disposal:

On behalf of the Carolina Children's Garden and all the patrons who enjoy the site, THANK YOU to Operation Inasmuch! 

May Workday

Master Gardener Howard van Dijk pruned the palmetto trees. 

On the last workday before summer, held on May 5, 2011, Master Gardeners and community volunteers tackled several projects in the Carolina Children's Garden.   Trees were pruned, weeds were pulled, plants were planted, and sweat was spilled!  Two Master Gardeners tackled the Winnie-the-Pooh characters, many of whom needed touching up and detailing following the Storybook Painting Party held earlier in the spring. 

Carolina Children's Garden Education Coordinator, Arlene Marturano, added detail to Rabbit's expression.

Joyce Bibby, Carolina Children's Garden Workday Coordinator, gave Eeyore lots of TLC!

Carolina Children's Garden workdays are held on the first Thursday of the month, September-May.  For details or to find out how you can help at the next workday, contact carolinachildrensgarden (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Lenticels in the Lens Gallery

Winning entries in the first Carolina Children's Garden photo contest, "Lenticels in the Lens," were displayed in a gallery at the Sandhill Farmer's Market on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011.  Passers-by admired the many wonderful submissions, and many asked that all-important question--"What is a lenticel, anyway?"

In short, a lenticel is a plant's pore-like structure that allows gas exchange.  Read more about them here, then go take a look at a tree in your neighborhood.  Trees in the rose family, like cherries and apples, often have prominent lenticels that are easy to observe.

Jimmy Parrott, a winner in the youth division, stopped at the gallery to receive his certificate.

Congratulations to all the photographers who submitted winning entries, and thanks to everyone who participated in this inaugural competition!  

Sparkleberry Fair, 2011

Every April, residents of northeast Columbia turn out for the annual Sparkleberry County Fair at the Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center (REC).  This year's fair, held on April 30th, was no different!  The Carolina Children's Garden co-sponsored a booth under the Clemson tent to share information about composting and raise awareness of the Garden and its education programs. 

Children learn about vermicomposting at the Garden's booth

Other exhibits included a Conservation Station display featuring natural artifacts and mystery boxes.  The Conservation Station, sponsored by the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District and located at the REC, is a sister site to the Carolina Children's Garden and offers conservation education programs for the public.  Like the programs at the Children's Garden, these programs are funded, in part, by a Community Conservation Grant from the Richland County Conservation Commission. 

Mystery Boxes:  Don't be shy! 

Jeff Laney (right), Associate Commissioner of the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District, talks turtles with interested fairgoers

Nearby, Dr. John Nelson, the "mystery doctor with the mystery plant" on the popular SCETV program Making it Grow!, identified plants and discussed botany with fair-goers at the USC Herbarium table.

The USC Herbarium table was next to the Garden's booth

The Sparkleberry Fair is a community festival "about education, for education."  Exhibits and events at the Fair revolve around a theme of agriculture education and historical lifeways, and all proceeds from the fair benefit local students.  The 17th annual Sparkleberry Fair will be held in April, their website for details at

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Feature, Part III: Storybook Characters!

Kathy Murray sketches faces and features
Several former inhabitants of Pooh's Corner in the Carolina Children's Garden are returning this month!  Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Tigger, and Kanga used to live all together in Pooh's Corner, but over the years, several members of this merry bunch wandered away.  At a special Storybook Painting Party on April 9, 2011, volunteer artists painted faces and features of these beloved characters on new plywood cutouts prepared by volunteer carpenters and painters.

Marie Daniels painting Piglet

Real, live versions of several of these characters were also present, courtesy of a local petting zoo; USC student Julia Grasso provided an extremely popular finger-painting activity for children, and a beekeeper was on hand to answer questions about Pooh Bear's favorite food--"Hunny!"

Michael Radcliffe of the Wateree Beekeepers Association provided bee education!

Visit our Facebook album to see more photos of this special event and learn about the volunteers and artists who made the event possible!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Feature, Part II: Cold Frame

"But round the end of the cucumber frame, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!
-Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit
In Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, the unfortunate title character has a harrowing experience at the end of a cucumber frame.  Said cucumber frame is depicted in Potter's accompanying watercolor illustration (above) as a wooden box with a glass lid.  This contraption was doubtlessly used as a cold frame in which warm-season vegetables (including cucumbers) were produced in a cool, short-summered climate.

In the Carolina Children's Garden, Mr. McGregor has his very own garden--complete with a white picket fence, two raised vegetable gardens, a freshly-painted tool shed, and a border of lovely daffodils.  Now, Mr. McGregor also has...wait for it...his very own cold frame!

This stunning Potteresque cold frame was designed and constructed by the multi-talented Hattie and Donald Bruce Monson.  The frame is made of treated pine lumber (which, Hattie notes, no longer contains arsenic--a chemical that, in the past, made treated lumber unsuitable for the construction of vegetable beds) with a Plexiglas roof.  Hinges, handles, and hook-and-eye latches make the frame easy to open and close.

Constructing the frame was a learning process for the Monsons--Hattie reported that this was the first "permanent" cold frame they had constructed, having used only temporary cold frames made of plastic stretched over hoops to protect young seedlings in the past.  The frame had to be made to fit into an existing wooden square in Mr. McGregor's Garden--the remnants of the Garden's original cold frame, long since vanished.

While Hattie admitted that the cold frame "did look nice in the garage," the best part of the process was seeing the frame installed in its intended destination beside Mr. McGregor's toolshed.  The installation process required the help of several friends, including Master Gardener Kathy Murray and USC student Christine Burkes (pictured below).

Keep your eye on Mr. McGregor's Garden, as more changes are in store...the frame will soon be painted, and, when the weather begins to cool this fall, expect to see plants migrating magically into the frame!

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Feature, Part I: A Teepee Trellis!

Thanks to the creativity of Master Gardener Joyce Bibby and the efforts of volunteers at the recent April workday, Garden visitors can now rest in the dappled shade beneath our new teepee trellis!  The teepee is made of crape myrtle poles buried slightly in the ground and tied tightly together with twine.  Twine was also strung between the poles like the spiraling strands of a spider's web to provide more structure for the pole beans, planted in pots around the base of the trellis, to grow on. 

Find the teepee between the stage and the parking lot, adjacent to the rain garden!  Expect a boulder to appear in the teepee by the end of the month....

View more photos on Facebook.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April Additions

Once a month, Master Gardeners and community volunteers meet in the Children's Garden for a few hours of old-fashioned hard work.  The April workday, held on April 7, 2011, was no different.

Gardeners Conspiring
Prior to the big event, Workday Coordinators Mary Kelly and Joyce Bibby (above) devised a Plan of Attack.  On the day itself, Master Gardeners tackled an assortment of projects: Joyce Tillman tidied the Alphabet Garden and planted annuals; Mary Alice Williams worked with high school student volunteers to plant petunias in the Three Bears' Homestead; Marie Daniels made plans for the future of the Butterfly Garden; Joyce Bibby and David Sprung created a great new teepee trellis using crape myrtle poles donated by Howard van Dijk; Hattie Monson, Kathy Murray, and USC student Christine Burke installed a cold frame; Arlene Marturano planted sunflowers amidst the daffodils in Mr. McGregor's Garden; and Chanda Cooper ate the M&Ms thoughtfully provided by Mary Kelly (thanks, Mary!).  

Planting sunflowers
Watch the blog for more detailed posts about the new teepee and cold frame, or, better yet, visit the Garden and see them for yourself!  As always, thanks to the many volunteers who make the Children's Garden possible.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Caution: Wet Paint!

After tackling the white picket fence around Mr. McGregor's Garden at the recent Kiwanis Aktion Club Workday, volunteer Jack Hatfield decided to do even more: he painted Mr. McGregor's tool-shed!

In the classic story of Peter Rabbit, the tool-shed is a place where the crotchety Mr. McGregor stores spare flower pots, rakes, hoes, and other Useful Things.  In the Carolina Children's Garden, the tool-shed is a place where kind and cheerful Master Gardeners store, well, flower pots, rakes, hoes, and other Useful Things. 

Mr. McGregor's Toolshed, from The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

We are happy the shed has received such a nice face-lift, and we are extremely grateful to Mr. Hatfield for donating his time and talent to this cause!  (We think Mr. McGregor is grateful, too!)

Thank you!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Delightful Daffodils...

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host, of golden daffodils...
-William Wordsworth

Visit the Children's Garden right away to see our lovely new daffodils in bloom!  Over 1,000 daffodil bulbs were donated to the Carolina Children's Garden by Jenks Farmer of Lushlife Nurseries ( earlier this spring.  Volunteers planted them throughout the garden--around the perimeter of Mr. McGregor's Garden, along the fence at the Three Bears' Homestead, and in the pine straw borders of the Butterfly and Bird gardens.

Bend close to experience their lovely fragrance! 

...For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude; 
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
-William Wordsworth

Monday, April 4, 2011

Photography Contest Winners Announced!

The recent Lenticels in the Lens photography contest prompted many photographers to hit the trails with cameras in hand!  Submissions of photos of lenticels (pore-like structures often seen on the bark of trees) were received in three age categories, and the photos were judged by a panel of experts, including scientists, naturalists, and educators from Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, and the Richland County Master Gardeners Association.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the following WINNERS:

Youth Winner: Joshua Venegas, age 9
Photo from Chapin, SC

 Youth Honorable Mention:  Jimmy Parrott, age 10
Photo from Camden, SC

Teen Winner:  Anna Fowler, age 18
Photo from Greenville, SC

Teen Honorable Mention:  Noel Venegas, age 14
Photo from Chapin, SC

Adult Winner:  April Kelley
Photo from Columbia, SC

Congratulations!  Each winner will receive a field guide to trees, and all submissions will be featured in a gallery on the opening day of the Sandhill Farmers Market (May 3, 2-7 pm) and, subsequently, on the bulletin board in the Carolina Children's Garden.

Stay tuned for details about our next contest!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Workday and Water

Master Gardeners and community volunteers came out in force for the March 3 Carolina Children's Garden workday, overseen by Workday Coordinators Mary Kelly and Joyce Bibby.  The Three Bears' reflecting pool was tidied; new plantings were installed around Pooh's Corner, Mr. McGregor's Garden, Old MacDonald's Farm, and the Alphabet Fence; the triceratops in the Mesozoic Memories Dinosaur Garden received a fresh coat of paint; and the blossoming daffodils, yellow bells, pansies, and budding fruit trees were admired by all.

Freshly-painted triceratops

On the day following the Master Gardener workday, Mr. Joe Hudson, property manager at the Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center, and his team of groundskeepers dismantled a raised bed in Growing Healthy in preparation for a new garden design to be implemented later this year.  Many thanks to Mr. Joe and his crew for their hard work!

Growing Healthy after removal of a raised bed

Many changes have come to the Garden this winter, and amongst the most exciting is this: WATER.  Every gardener knows how important it is to have access to water in a Garden, and while we strive to be water-wise at the Children's Garden, having ready access to a reliable water supply is going to make a huge difference in the Garden this spring.  We at the Children's Garden are so grateful to everyone who made these improvements possible!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting the Garden Off the Ground...with Pot Towers!

A beautiful new pot tower has been added to Growing Healthy at the Carolina Children's Garden!

The Growing Healthy Garden is growing, well, up!  Master Gardener Crystal Masterson designed, created, and installed a stunning pot tower in this space devoted to healthy living.  Colorful pots painted with polka dots and stripes now boast an array of delicious and nutritious plants, including strawberries, parsley, and thyme. 
Master Gardener Crystal Masterson constructing the pot tower

Pot towers are easy to construct:  Crystal's tower began with a 5' length of iron rebar that she pounded through the drainage hole in the bottom of a large painted pot and into the ground below.  She covered the bottom of the pot with broken cardboard egg cartons to help with drainage, then filled the pot with soil.  The next pot was slightly smaller, and it was threaded onto the rebar through its drainage hole and balanced at an angle on top of the pot beneath.  More egg cartons and soil were added, then a third pot was threaded onto the tower and balanced at an angle...and so forth and so on until the tower was complete!

We are very grateful to Crystal for this beautiful (and functional!) addition to the Children's Garden!  Visit our Facebook page to see more photos of this and other Children's Garden Projects:  Facebook Page