About Cooks Creek Arboretum
The approximately 8.84 acres Cooks Creek Arboretum is part of the Bridgewater, Virginia, town park system. Planted trees, a walking path, the creek, wetlands, and a variety of birds and wildlife make this park a pleasant destination for a walk, picnic and wildlife observation.
As the Headwaters Chapter’s 2014/2015 Focus Project, Monarchs and More! hopes to be a meaningful and timely set of yearlong projects that engage all members of the chapter in the stewardship of public lands to protect and/or create helpful perennial habitat to boost the declining populations of Monarch butterflies and other pollinators. We will work with partners to create or identify “Monarch Waystations” in at least five public areas across Augusta and Rockingham Counties. Potential partners include park and other public land staff, the Virginia Native Plant Society, The Natural Garden, the JMU arboretum already hosting a Monarch Waystation, … your friends and neighbors!
Interpreting the areas with signage will be an important part of public education outreach.
Our project will culminate with a chapter-hosted “migration” tour in August 2015 to visit each of these areas!
About our Cooks Creek Arboretum Team!
Here’s who we are:
• RoxAnna Theiss – Team leader
• Malcolm Cameron – Soils leader
• Stephanie Gardner – Webpage master
• Dwayne Martin – Pollinator leader (with the help of Edie Kretsch)
• Pat Martin- Plants leader
• Margaret Speicher – Liaison to the Milkweed protection and plant preparation team
The first team meeting was on December 16, 2014. It included food and drinks, planning and a site visit!
These decisions were reached at that time:
• We will stay with natives and/or non-invasive naturalized plants.
• We will try for a plant bed design that invites and draws the visitor into it.
• We will try to create a plant/pollinator match such that the blooming season is maximized . . . something blooming all season – Edie is helping with this.
• We will avoid plants that travel too much and cannot be contained.
The second team meeting was on January 14, 2015. It included a visiting representative from the Town of Bridgewater, project planning, and of course, good food and drink!
These decisions were reached at that time:
• We will make necessary measurements to allow the placement of the garden well away from the fence gate located nearby in order to allow access for heavy equipment.
• We will do 2” – 4” pots and not seeds to facilitate a more advanced garden.
• We agreed on budget needs and dollar estimate responsibilities.
• We created a timeline for the project.
These team assignments were made:
• Pat and Margaret will continue work on plant selection using a combination of sources.
• Dwayne will be pricing various garden needs at Lowes and other stores.
• Malcolm will get a pH value for the site.
• Margaret will do a soil profile.
• RoxAnna will work on financing.
• Carleen will check on Township information and approval on several project-related issues.
• Signage was discussed.
• A tentative site design will be submitted.
• Margaret, Olivia and RoxAnna made a site visit and inspection.
March/April 2015 Update
March was not kind to those of us trying to dig up sod to make room for our Pollinator Gardens. If it wasn’t way below freezing, there was too much snow on the ground. Geez!
Finally though at the end of March and the beginning of April we got in some dig time and we should be ready for our April 6th Milkweed delivery.
The earth is good at the Bridgewater Arboretum but there is wire grass (Cynodon dactylonname, I think) – and plenty of it. That might be a weed control issue for us. The Town of Bridgewater has been very gracious and helpful. They are actually going to remove the dug up sod for us once we are ready. Right now the sod resides on top of the plastic that covers the garden area.
All our team members have participated:
• Malcolm took care of getting a soil sample analyzed and has raised $200 from Houff Transfer.
• Margaret and her family helped dig as did Pat and Dwayne on several occasions.
• Stephanie has been our historian and editor for publications to the Newsletter and website.
• RoxAnna has put in lots of last minute dig time and is still waiting to hear the results of her fund-raising efforts with Bridgewater BB&T.
We are very excited for our first botanical residents to move in and we will do everything we can to nurture and protect them for the sake of their future consumers: our pollinators. – RoxAnna Theiss
Late April Update 2015
April started out with our first planting on Monday the 6th. RoxAnna went to the site early to finish the last of the weeding and grass removal. Later in the morning Malcolm and Chris arrived with the Milkweed rhizomes. They volunteered some of their time to help finish the grass removal and then it was time to put the Milkweed into the ground.
We decided to put the Milkweed in the center. We dug a trench of several depths and Chris helped us place and cover the tuberous rhizomes. We mulched and watered the area, carting the water from Cooks Creek itself.
It was a very pleasant day and we finished in good time. We were very fortunate to have the Bridgewater grounds team offer to remove the piles of grass sod we had created preparing the garden site.
Although April started out with a success – it finished with a failure to secure funding from BB&T. Turns out we were in competition with a project offered by a BB&T employee and the decision was made for the other project. We have not given up however. Other sources of funding will be approached and solicited.
The next step is to put some annuals and perennials into the ground. Stay tuned for the next update in June! – RoxAnna Theiss
May 7, 2015
May 18, 2015
The Cook’s Creek Arboretum Pollinator Garden was added to Plants Map, an online “community for anyone interested in plants, gardens, and green spaces,” as part of the 2015 HMN Basic Training Class’s project to add identifications to many of the trees in the Cooks Creek Arboretum.
More about this project here.
June 11, 2015
The Cooks Creek Arboretum Pollinator Waystation made the July issue of the town of Bridgewater’s monthly newsmagazine, the Bridgewater Current! Find the article here. Thanks to Elaine Smith for finding this and sending it in. The 2015 training class tree labeling project is also covered.
The photo below is adapted from the garden photo in the article. Photographer unknown.
August 15, 2015
M&M Migration Tour! Thanks to Elaine Smith for these photos.