Freedom Park’s Bird and Butterfly Garden

By Pandra Williams, Beech Hollow Farm, as written for the Candler Park Messenger, September 2018

In 2005, Carol Vanderschaaf started the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden with Phil Edwards and the DeKalb Master Gardener Association along with Catherine Kuchar of the Audubon Society. Together, they planted over 40 different species of native plants and shrubs and lovingly tended the garden for years. Over time, Carol became the main caretaker of the garden and her many friends and volunteers often call the garden, Carol’s Garden.

Volunteering at Carol’s Garden over the years has always been a learning experience. At every volunteer day a native plant expert is present to identify the native plants in the garden and answer questions about habitat and pollinator gardening. This also helps keep native plants in place and allows volunteers to evict only the weeds.

Last fall, Beech Hollow and Scout Troop 586 scheduled a workday at the garden. The Scouts removed invasive plants from the garden, with adult help and supervision. While the group was hard at work, the Georgia aster was in bloom, and the Heart’s a Busting was dangling berries, to entice the birds to stop by and eat. The brilliant scarlet fruits of the Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, made a gorgeous splash of color under the oak trees. For birds, Winterberry and Heart’s a Busting fruits are the plant equivalent of a neon sign that says “Eat at Joe’s.”

This summer neighborhood volunteers along with Pandra Williams and Jeff Killingsworth of Beech Hollow Farm have worked every other Sunday morning on removing invasive plants, mainly Bradford pear and Porcelain Berry and getting the garden ready for fall planting. Neighborhood volunteers are welcome to join in the fall for planting and mulching.

The Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden has also had a long history of collaboration, mentorship, and environmental enrichment and education. It’s been the site of outdoor environmental classes on pollinator syndromes and environmental stewardship for students at Mary Lin School. Hundreds of hours of volunteer time have been put in over the years, as well as a few thousand dollars of grant money that has been awarded for native plants.

A brief timeline of the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden:

2005

Carol Vanderschaaf started the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden with Phil Edwards and the DeKalb Master Gardener Association along with Catharine Kuchar of the Audubon Society. They planted over 40 different species of native plants and shrubs.

2008 through 2012

EcoAddendum engaged the students at Mary Lin School in both learning to garden, in pollinator syndromes and environmental stewardship. The students and Carol Vanderschaaf install more plants.

2013 through 2016

Environmental programming continued with Lauren Sandoval and Trees Atlanta. Each year volunteers planted new native plants.

2017 and on going

Beech Hollow Farms and the Freedom Park Conservancy along with volunteers will continue the maintenance and planting of native plants in the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden.

Partial list of plants in the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden

Native plants for birds and/or butterflies:

  • Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida or Rudbeckia hirta
  • Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea
  • Golden Fleece Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa
  • Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia
  • Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis
  • Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata

Native plants for birds:

  • American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana
  • Blueberry, Vaccinium spp
  • Yellow root, Xanthorhizza simplicissima

Native plants for butterflies:

  • Butterfly Weed (not Bush), Asclepias tuberosa
  • Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochium fistulosum
  • St. John’s Wort, Hypericum frondosum
  • Pink Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata
  • Passionflower, Passiflora incarnate