FloraKansas FAQs

For long-time members and newbies alike, FloraKansas is an exciting time. The thrill of finding the perfect plant, the joy of meeting like-minded gardeners, the rush of fear that we might sell out of your favorite species; it can all be a lot to take in! Though we make small tweaks each year, there are a few things you can plan ahead for.

Our greenhouse gets quite full during the plant sale, and we are happy to see these plants go to new homes!

Member Day

The Thursday of Florakansas is always member day. This means ONLY members can purchase plants that day. If you are not a member and would like to come on that day, you are welcome to purchase a membership at the same time as your plants.
FAQS:

  • “Can I bring a friend who is not a member?” Yes, if you are a member or planning to become one, you may bring a guest.
  • “How do I know if my membership is current?” There are 3 ways to find out: Search your email for a renewal receipt, find the date on your membership card, or contact our office.
  • “Do I need to bring my membership card?” No, but it sure is helpful for our staff!
Member day is a busy time. It is a great time to mingle with plant experts and enthusiasts as well as first-timers. Staff and volunteers are always nearby to help!

Organization

So much to see, so little time! Grasses, trees, shrubs and vines are in the gravel area outside the greenhouse while the herbaceous plants are inside the greenhouse. Each aisle in the greenhouse is labeled by category, and a full explanation of each category is available here. We have a shade aisle for native and non-native plants that prefer 7 hours or less of direct sun, an adaptable aisle full of non-native garden favorites that grow well in our region, and a Natives for Sun aisle jam packed with true natives from Kansas and our bordering states. Using our native plant guide will help you find what category, and therefore what aisle, your desired plant will likely be found. And of course, staff and volunteers are always happy to help!
FAQs:

  • “Why include plants native to other states?” Over thousands of years, native species ranges have shifted and continue to do so based on the changing climate. Plants don’t care about state lines, so we do our best to offer a diverse set of plants from the Great Plains and Ozark regions that work well in many microclimates and garden types while still adding to a healthy ecosystem.
  • “Why do you carry non-natives at all?” There are many plants not native to our area that still perform well in our climate and add great beauty and habitat to the garden. Offering these adaptable plants, as we call them, ensures our customers can continue to purchase familiar and reliable garden favorites along with lesser known natives as they expand their gardening knowledge. Since FloraKansas is our largest fundraiser, offering a wide selection of plants allows us to absorb the higher cost of growing and purchasing those hard to find natives.

Pre-Order and Pick Up

This is a map from our 2020 plant sale procedures, but it remains fairly accurate. While we don’t need 5 pick up spots now that the pandemic lockdowns have lifted, we still ask that folks who are picking up follow this flow of traffic and stop near the greenhouse for staff to assist.

Members get the added benefit of pre-order service (closed as of April 11). This means you can send us your order before the sale via our online order form and staff will box up your plants for pick up. No shopping or waiting in line! You may pick up your plants as soon as you receive the invoice via email, or you may come to the sale in person. If you decide to shop the sale in addition to pre-ordering, please keep your new purchases and your pre-order separate. This cuts down on confusion at the cash register. FAQs:

  • “How do I know my order has been received?” Once you fill out the form on our website, you will see a prompt that thanks you for your order. This is the only confirmation you will receive until your order is processed.
  • “How do I know when my order is ready?” When you order is processed and ready for pick up, you will receive an email. This is an invoice, with directions for pick up times and procedure. Once you see this in your inbox, your plants are ready for you!
  • “Can I order plants for someone else who is not a member?” As long as a current member is the one filling out the form and paying for the plants, yes. This is a great time to encourage your friends to become members as well!

BYO?

Boxes: We provide cardboard boxes to shoppers, but you are welcome to bring you own! Volunteers spend weeks helping us collect discarded boxes from local grocery stores. If you bring your own, we can cut down on our collection time.

Pots: Do you have pots from last year you would like us to reuse? If so, bring them with you! We will happily accept OUR POTS ONLY, since they match our pricing and storage systems.

Consider bringing these other items to help your FloraKansas shopping trip go smoothly: your membership card, measurements and pictures of your landscape site to show a staff person, a wagon or cart for your plants. Wagons will be provided, but we occasionally run out during busy times!

FloraKansas is as exciting for staff as it is for our patrons. We get to see our longtime friends and meet new faces. Staff can hear about the progress of gardens we helped design, and smile at the stories of wildlife enjoying the habitat these plants create. We can’t wait to see you all there!

FloraKansas Greenhouse Guide

When you visit the greenhouse during our FloraKansas fundraisers, you may notice some signage hanging over the aisles: Shade, Adaptables, Natives for Sun. This post will help you make sense of how we organize the species so you can find exactly what you want and start planting!

Use the aisle markers to help you navigate the greenhouse. You may also find it helpful to bring your Native Plant Guide with you,
helping you remember the names and attributes of the plants you are interested in. Photo by Amy Sharp Photography.

Shade

In the north aisle you will find shade plants, both native and adaptable. These plants will appreciate all day dappled sun or less than 6 hours of direct sun per day. By nature, many of these plants like a bit more water than their sun loving counterparts. There are lots of great options for dry shade, however, which is common in Kansas’ suburban neighborhoods. Use your native plant guide or the placard over each species to know which plants like it dry or moist, and help you select the right plants for your site.

Shade Garden
The native columbine Aquilegia canadensis thrives in the Arboretum shade garden.
This is one of many shade-tolerant species you can find at FloraKansas.
Geranium maculatum ‘Crane Dance’ is a hybrid of two parent G. maculatum types. This plant can tolerate droughty shade and has excellent fall color. Photo courtesy Walter’s Gardens

Adaptables

Heptacodium, also known as Seven Son Flower, is a shrub from northern Asia. While it is not native here, our butterflies sure do love it!
Hardy and drought tolerant, it has become one of our favorite adaptable shrubs.
Monarchs on Seven Son Flower at Dyck Arboretum, 9/20/2020 – Photo by Gerry Epp

The center aisle is for Adaptables. This is our catch-all term for non-natives that still deserve to be included in our sale. Maybe it is because they are a well-known garden classic, like peonies or hibiscus. Perhaps they are new and unique, appealing to the adventurous gardeners in our customer base. No matter the reason they initially caught our eye, we consider the following before we add them to our inventory:

  • do they reliably preform well in our area?
  • are they known to be non-invasive?
  • do they still benefit our local pollinators and birds?
  • are they particularly water-wise or hardy?

We research every plant that goes into this aisle to make sure these species deserve a spot at our sale, and have something special to offer our shoppers.

Natives for Sun

Lastly the Natives for Sun aisle is by far the most jam packed and diverse of the three, alphabetized by latin name for all those botany nerds out there. These plants are native to KS and our bordering states. We research the historical ranges for these plants. We also research which horticultural varieties we carry are naturally occurring or intentionally hybridized by breeders. Information is always changing on this topic! When considering whether it is ‘native enough’ for this aisle we also consider factors like how the flower form and leaf color has potentially been changed by humans, which can affect its function in the ecosystem.

Ratibida columnifera is a native prairie plant you would find in our Natives for Sun aisle.
It loves hot summer days and open spaces! Photo by Emily Weaver.

Our greenhouse was built in 2008, and has changed the way we operate our fundraiser in a big way. Before we had a greenhouse, Florakansas was held in the parking lot! I am so glad those days are gone and that our greenhouse is the permanent home for Florakansas, a center of activity for volunteers, and a warm place to escape to in late winter. We hope to see lots of you enjoying the greenhouse at our spring sale!

Five Book Recommendations for the Kansas Prairie Gardener

Learning to identify wildflowers is a rewarding pastime that can greatly increase one’s appreciation of the world of nature. Identifying plants in their natural setting can also inform our decisions on what and how to plant many of these wildflowers, grasses, trees and shrubs in our own yards.  Identification is made easier with the aid of a good wildflower guide especially if you are going old school without a phone. These books usually include photographs, drawings, written descriptions, and information on the plant’s ecology and distribution. 

The Arboretum staff is occasionally asked to recommend books on plants and animals. Most of the time we use our phones and search the internet for the information. However, there is something tactile about holding a field guide in your hand and working through the identification process. There are a number of good general guides, the following are particularly helpful in Kansas. 

Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas

A field guide by Michael John Haddock.  Flowers grouped by color of bloom.

Kansas Wildflowers and Weeds

by Michael John Haddock, Craig C. Freeman, and Janet E. Bare.  This book is very scientific but thorough. If you find a plant you can’t identify, look here.

Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines in Kansas Revised and Expanded Edition

by Michael John Haddock and Craig C. Freeman.  I love this book and use it often.  It has the county the plants are found in Kansas.

Field Guide to the Common Grasses of Oklahoma, Kansas

by Iralee Barnhard.  It has great color pictures and descriptions.

     

The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots

by Bob Gress and Pete Janzen.  Color pictures, field identification and other valuable information. 

Pocket Guides from the Great Plains Nature Center*

Kansas Snakes, Common Kansas Butterflies, Great Plains Waterbirds, Kansas Raptors, Kansas Red Hills Wildflowers, Kansas Flint Hills Wildflowers and Grasses, Common Kansas Backyard Birds, and Great Plains Shorebirds, Common Kansas Mushrooms, Kansas Amphibians, Turtles and Lizards, Kansas Land Snails, Kansas Mammals, Kansas Freshwater Mussels, Kansas Stream Fishes, Common Kansas Spiders, and Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species.

*Single copies of the GPNC Pocket Guides may be picked up free at the Great Plains Nature Center.  All GPNC Pocket Guides may be downloaded in pdf format from GPNC.org.  Copies can be mailed for $3.00 each by sending a check payable to the FGPNC, to: Pocket Guides, Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 East 29th St. N, Wichita, KS 67220. 

I know technology has changed so much of how we identify the world around us, but quite often, I still use these guides and books rather than my phone. In the absence of a guide I will take a picture with my phone, note the location and site conditions so I can look it up the next day in the office. Nature is a good teacher and I use the things I learn from the field in so many different ways. I am often amazed at the beauty of what I have found, but also the resiliency that it takes to survive where it is growing. Understanding leads to appreciation and appreciation leads to conservation and stewardship.       

These wildflower guides are available online and some can be purchased at our gift shop during the holidays.

Dyck Arboretum is Turning 40!

The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains is turning 40 this Sunday, October 10, 2021. Join us from 4:00- 6:00 p.m. as we celebrate the past, present, and future. Many of our staff, board members, and even some of Harold and Evie’s children and grand children will be there to greet and welcome you!

Evie and Harold Dyck, founders of Dyck Arboretum of the Plains
WHAT TO DO ON 10/10/21:
  • Enjoy a burger/hot dog, beans, chips and water/tea (4:30-5:30 pm) 
  • Celebrate with the traditional Dyck family banana birthday cake, ice cream & pretzels
  • Participate in a scavenger hunt and decorate the path with sidewalk chalk
  • Enjoy a slide show showcasing many historic slides of Dyck Arboretum development
  • Listen to live music from The Flannelbacks
  • Get a family portrait by Amy Sharp Photography
  • Take home an oak tree to plant

WHAT TO BRING: Your mask (for inside), your people, and any picnic items (blanket, lawn chair, extra food) to help you spread out and enjoy the Arboretum.

Scavenger Hunt

Bring a child to our celebration, take a little trip down memory lane, and catch glimpses of how much has changed on our grounds at 177 W. Hickory in Hesston as you observe the past and present. Review the following questions and find the corresponding laminated photos on placards at their respective locations on our grounds where you will find the answers.

What is the location of the first tree planted at the Arboretum? Hint: You’ll see it on the right as you exit the parking lot (watch for cars as you look!).

At 40+ years old now, this bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) is turning into a stately tree.

Where do kids like to go to feed the turtles?

Kids feeding the turtles

Evie Dyck had a favorite location to gaze out over the Arboretum. Can you find Evie’s overlook?

Evie’s Overlook

Where do you find bald cypress “knees” in the Arboretum? (Hint: you will be standing on a bridge when you see them…and not the bridge to the island)

Cypress knees

Then, see if you can find the nearby two oldest bald cypress trees near the pond.

First two bald cypress trees at the Dyck Arboretum as seen some time in the 1980s. Wait till you see how big they are now!

Where is the tallgrass prairie reconstruction area? Take a picture of yourself in the prairie grass!

As you follow the path, this starred location is likely where you will first encounter our ~10 acres of restored prairie
First seeded prairie planting on the Dyck Arboretum Prairie Window Project in January 2005
That same prairie restoration today…it will make great photo backdrop!

What is the newest building at the Arboretum? (Hint: it is near the greenhouse.)

Our newest building – the Horticulture and Utility Building (HUB)

I won’t physically be at the celebration on Sunday as I will be attending a workshop in Wisconsin entitled Caring for Common Ground. It is being put on by the UW-Madison Arboretum authors of our Earth Partnership for Schools Program and Curriculum that we have been teaching to K-12 teachers and students in Kansas for the last 14 years. While you are celebrating the past and the present of Dyck Arboretum, not only will I be thinking of you, but I will also be dreaming about how future educational programming can continue to carry on Harold and Evie’s legacy for another 40 years to come.

Will Work for Lights: How We Prepare for Luminary Walk

It is that time of year again! Volunteers and staff are preparing for our annual Winter Luminary Walk event. This means stringing hundreds of extension cords and thousands of Christmas lights throughout the Arboretum. It may seem ridiculously early, but we often start this process the day after Halloween. (Do you think a Monster Mash/White Christmas remix would ever be a radio hit?)

Putting up lights is only half the work — fixing them is the real trial!

Where to Start?

Many folks wonder how we begin when there is so much area to cover. I like to start every year by stringing lights around the pond. This is an easy job that gets me mentally warmed up to spend the next few weeks working with lights and wires. Because we have been doing this for so many years, we have a pretty good idea of how many strands it takes to get around the pond (31) or tied onto the leaf house (3) or draped in the small prairie near the Visitor Center (18). We have some lights labeled for specific areas. Others are stored on spools so they can easily be unrolled and installed.

Style

Many public gardens throughout the US put on holiday light shows, and each is dazzling in their own way. Here at Dyck Arboretum we have a unique approach: we aim to highlight the natural landscape rather than cover it with colorful, flashy displays. We keep our style simple and classic. For example, we use only warm white Christmas lights, under-mounted spotlights, and thematically relevant features. Foregoing busy, strobe-like displays or loud music, we invite visitors to appreciate the forms and shapes of native trees in the quiet of a prairie night. You may hear an owl hooting as you stroll, or the sound of water trickling into the stream.

White swans float on the pond among reflections of our large footbridge and stately bald cypress tree. Photo from 2017 by Lowell Flory

Features

Over the years we have trialed many new features to keep Luminary Walk feeling fresh, even to repeat visitors. Some years we have lighted ‘swans’ floating on the pond and ‘bison’ grazing in our prairie. Other years we installed shooting stars high above our lawns and have created arbors, tunnels, and pendulous hanging ornaments. The only way to know what we are up to this year? Come and see for yourself!

In 2018 my father and I created a life-size wire bison to be strung with lights and displayed in the Prairie Window Project. We started by drawing a properly scaled silhouette of a bison and bent the flat steel into shape with pipe wrenches.

We hope this event can be a fun and festive time to meet with family and friends at a socially distant, outdoor venue. Visit the event page for ticketing and for information about how this event will be COVID-conscious, specifically:

  • adding event hours to reduce crowding
  • capping ticket sales per half hour
  • closing our facilities to indoor traffic
  • reducing the need for volunteer set up and take down
  • requiring face masks for all attendees
I focus on outdoor decorations, but the rest of the staff and volunteers have the job of beautifying our indoor facilities. Reminder: Indoor facilities will be closed this year.

Enjoy our holiday event Thanksgiving Weekend November 27-29 or Closing Weekend December 4-6.

Gardeners make EVERY DAY Earth Day

One week ago today was the 50th Anniversary of the first Earth Day demonstration in 1970. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts are lasting results of that first Earth Day! Yet much more remains to be done, and it can’t happen on just one day of the year. Earth Day reminds us that every day is Earth Day.

As gardeners and stewards and of our immediate environment, we are already making a difference in our own backyards and communities. As we explore and connect with nature each day, we are establishing a care ethic to make positive decisions for the environment, present and future.

Support biodiversity at home

This year, Earth Day recognized the enormous challenges – and vast opportunities – of climate action. So, what better place to start climate actions than in our native prairie gardens? Native prairie gardens are – by their very nature – pollinator gardens. They attract an abundance of pollinators (and other small creatures as well) throughout the growing season. In so doing, they help conserve biodiversity, protect species threatened by climate change, and restore ecosystem balance.

But native gardens do so much more to mitigate climate change. They hold and conserve water, store carbon in extensive root systems, build fertile soils, and help maintain cleaner air. In tending native gardens, we benefit as well by experiencing beauty, joy, and a sense of well-being.  

Pollinator Garden Resources

You can celebrate Earth Day every day by joining Earth Day 2020’s campaign to Protect Our Species. Because the Monarch butterfly is currently vulnerable and declining, it is one of ten species directing the Earth Day Network’s conservation efforts in 2020. Earth Day 2020 provides an informative Pollinator Garden Toolkit, and Pollinator Garden Worksheet to help you plan or add to your pollinator garden. 

Then, attend the online FloraKansas Native Plant Festival, with its large selection of hearty, native flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs suitable for a diversity of habitats. If you have questions, FloraKansas has experts available too!

Connect to the broader community

Last, but not least, invite your neighbors, friends and family to join you in your efforts to create pollinator-friendly spaces. Garden by garden, we can create a mosaic of native habitats that benefit a broader community of both pollinators AND people!

Photo: A native metallic green sweat bee Agapostemon sp gathering pollen from wavy-leaf false dandelion Microseris cuspidata. (Lorna Harder photo taken 20 Apr 2020)

References:

Plug(in) for Citizen Science

Opportunities to conduct citizen science are all around us and doing so can add great value to our lives. You can refer to an earlier blog post (Get Rich and Happy with Phenology) to see how much I enjoy scientific pursuits in my spare time. These activities include various elements of plant conservation, and looking for/identifying butterflies and birds.

My data collection tools for the Harvey Count Butterfly Count

I discussed in this past post that phenology is the observance of cyclical and seasonal natural events. Citizen science is a method of observing and documenting phenology. The Oxford English Dictionary defines citizen science as “scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions.”

Field data sheet from a past Harvey County Christmas Bird Count

Kansas is flush with great people and resources when it comes to conducting skillful citizen science. Nowhere is this more obvious to me than in the Kansas birding community. I know a number of committed folks who will spend entire weekends and even vacations focused on the pursuit of observing and identifying as many birds as possible. The especially skilled and driven birders identify more species in a day than most people will recognize in a lifetime. Some may consider these folks a bit wack-a-doodle-doo, but I consider them inspiring contributors to citizen science. I will strive to be more like them in my empty nest years (yes, pun intended), which are coming soon.

The drive for many birders to scientifically document nature around them then extends to the follow-up data sharing. This is where personal enjoyment in bird watching becomes important citizen science. And this is also where I get to the reference in my title for this blog about “plugging in”.

Electronic Reporting

With mobile devices making the Internet available almost anywhere and with ever more nature-based reporting platforms coming available, sharing findings about animals and plants has never been easier. Here are some online reporting options for you to check out:

A popular reporting platform is eBird, created by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 2002. Through this platform, birders can report their findings and track data according to their life lists, county/state/country lists, etc. Ornithologists world-wide are using eBird data to better understand population ranges, changes in this data related to climate change, and so much more.

Birds are probably the most abundantly reported subject when it comes to citizen science of the natural world. Other Cornell Lab popular platforms and outlets for collecting bird data close to home include Project FeederWatch, NestWatch, and Great Backyard Bird Count. Breeding Bird Surveys, and Christmas Bird Counts (see a previous blog on this topic HERE) offer birding outlets for more adventurous birding in the region where you live.

Butterfly Tracking

Butterfly tracking is also gaining popularity. A good platform for reporting findings about monarch butterflies is through Monarch Watch. With their trending decline over the last couple of decades, monarchs are a popular focus for butterfly monitoring. Through Monarch Watch, citizen science data inputs for the public can include host plant emergence in the spring, and larvae and adult monarch sightings. They even detail how to tag monarchs for further tracking. Developing habitat for monarchs and improving available native nectar sources is also good for all butterfly species.

Check out a recent edition of On T.R.A.C.K.S. (V25:1), a publication produced by the good folks at Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for more ideas about citizen science reporting. This information-packed issue provided the topic idea for this post. Tt goes into much greater depth on many of the resources I refer to. This issue also highlights and further describes additional electronic platforms related to documenting biodiversity in general, plant flowering and seeding, climate change, precipitation, frogs, ladybugs, and even litter.

Our first lecture of our 2020 Winter Lecture Series with Chuck Otte will focus on Kansas Bird Populations and Distributions. Chuck is a fantastic resource, a great advocate for citizen science, and an interesting speaker. Put it in your calendar Tuesday, February 11 at 6:30 and come join us.

Happy Kansas Day! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to spend more time studying and reporting on the natural world of Kansas. Now, get out there, plug-in for citizen science, and have fun in the process!

Nature Book Reviews for Winter

This is the time of year I get the most reading done. With no vegetable garden to tend and little watering to do, I finally have a little time to cozy up with all the books I have been neglecting through the year. Specifically, books related to nature and the environment. If you want to stay connected with nature through these long, cold evenings, choose one of these great reads. And don’t forget to join our nature book club! Here are a few book reviews to pique your interest.

The Ogallala Road

by Julene Bair, buy it here

This non-fiction story follows Bair through struggles and self discovery as she grapples with the fate of the family farm. A story many Kansans can relate to, Bair is torn between her love of the land and the destructive agricultural practices her family uses to make their living. Set in western Kansas, readers are treated to sunny vistas of shortgrass prairie, colorful sunsets and relaxing horseback rides. Though at times I felt the prose was lacking, the story never lost its grip on me. An important warning cry for the Ogallala aquifer, and a call to action to protect this precious resource.

Published in 1992, this books continues to provide perspective into human civilization’s contentious relationship with planet earth. Made mostly of dialogue, the reader enters an “adventure of the mind and spirit”. Through simple, well-paced conversations between teacher and pupil, we get a fresh look at our agricultural society, and how humans might have arrived at such a violent relationship with the land that sustains us. Sure to spark conversation, this is an impactful, thought-provoking book. It continues to color my thoughts and actions long after I returned it to the shelf.

I won’t give away too much since this is on our nature book club list! Lab Girl is a non-fiction account of Jahren’s life and work in the natural sciences. An accomplished geobiologist, she offers a story that is part memoir and part love story – a love of plants. Hope Jahren dives deep into the mysterious and life-giving qualities of plants, soil and seeds. It’s not a quick-paced book that enthralls you, and at times I wished it moved along at a faster clip. But it may just be the perfect book for late winter, when you’re dreaming of summer and the return of green things.

Keep a look out for more book reviews this winter and early spring. I am on a mission to finish a new book each month so long as the cold weather holds!

2019 Year In Review

As the calendar year comes to a close, it is a natural time to reflect on the events that shaped 2019 at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains. I reviewed the last 12 months of the staff calendar and social media posts, made a list of activities our staff have been involved with, and plugged that list into a word cloud generator. Here is the resulting image:

Created via https://www.wordclouds.com/

This image brings back a flood of fond memories of 2019. I have so enjoyed working alongside fellow facilitators Scott, Janelle and Katie as these experiences have come and gone. But what gives me the greatest joy is how these events have been made possible and experienced by SO MANY MORE than the four of us.

Our Dyck Arboretum board of directors, volunteers, members, underwriters, event patrons, Hesston College staff, interns, business partners, and collaborating organizations are the glue that hold this word cloud together. I couldn’t be more grateful for how you have so enriched our year. You, who make up this diverse community of people, are an essential element of our mission to cultivate transformative relationships between people and the land.

So, whatever role(s) you have played in helping make this 2019 cloud of activities happen, I want to say a most heartfelt THANK YOU. Your involvement is essential to the Dyck Arboretum community and we look forward with you to the year ahead!

Generated by https://www.wordclouds.com/
Dyck Arboretum staff: Janelle Flory Schrock (office manager) Katie Schmidt (grounds manager), Scott Vogt (director), Brad Guhr (education coordinator)

Growing future gardeners through Earth Partnership for Schools

This week, is National Public Gardens Week.  All week we are celebrating, with other public gardens around the country, the unique role botanical gardens and arboreta have in our communities and neighborhoods. 

In the last month we have been preparing for and hosting many different events and celebrations, including our spring FloraKansas Native Plant Festival, during which we sold over 15,000 plants.  During graduation weekend, there were several graduation receptions and parties, and in the next two weeks we will host four weddings, a college alumni luncheon and the Kansas Native Plant Society board meeting. 

We are happy to be part of this community.  Your support helps us fulfill our mission to cultivate transformative relationships between people and the land.  We are truly grateful. 

FloraKansas Native Plant Festival

Over the past several weeks, I have been reflecting on how/why I got into this crazy world of horticulture.  I think it started by working in the vegetable garden and then planting trees around our family farm.  Like most teenagers, I grumbled, but at some level I enjoyed it.  I had the opportunity to get my hands dirty and establish plants that I watched grow and mature.  It started simply, with a little curiosity and enjoyment of being in nature. 

The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains Earth Partnership for Schools (EPS) program takes the same approach.  Through the training of teachers, we are able to introduce generations of students to the wonders of prairie plants and the pollinators and wildlife they attract.  Children are naturally curious and these school prairie gardens are an oasis and teaching tool in science, math, music, art, biology and so much more. 

For many of these students, these prairie gardens may provide the first opportunity for them to plant a plant or watch a monarch butterfly on their milkweeds.  These students are the next generation of land stewards.  The more they understand and appreciate the land, the more they will be able to care for and protect it for future generations. 

Fourth graders at Sunset Elementary in Newton, Kansas, investigate a common milkweed plant for monarch caterpillars.

We believe the EPS program, which is celebrating its thirteenth year in 2019, is vitally important in shaping future leaders who are aware of and connected to the natural world around them. 

As part of our membership in the American Public Gardens Association, we have the unique opportunity to participate in a one-week-long, flash fundraising campaign, called the MYGARDEN campaign.  We are seeking funding support for the upcoming EPS summer institute.  This year we are hosting over 30 teachers from 12 schools. Help fund their participation in this inspiring week of training.  To date, over 40,000 Kansas students have been impacted by the EPS program.  Your gift will have an impact now and into the future as more children become stewards of the land.