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Category Archives: Trees at The Raincatcher's Garden

School Field Trips

The Japanese Maples At The Raincatcher’s Garden

We are fortunate to have 5 Japanese Maples in our shady courtyard at The Raincatcher’s Garden.

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ is a classic upright red, the Japanese maple that made Japanese maples famous in America. Oddly enough the name ‘Bloodgood’ came from the family name of the owners of Bloodgood Nursery in New York and had nothing to do with its red color. Fortunately, the name fits this lovely red Japanese maple. It leafs out in the spring with bright red leaves which develop to deep maroon red, providing dynamic contrast throughout the spring, summer and especially in the autumn when the color intensifies displaying shades of oranges and reds which will grab anyone’s attention and make your yard look spectacular.

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ grows upright in habit to around 20-25 feet in thirty years. A very hardy and vigorous grower ‘Bloodgood’ does well in sun or filtered light. While this is typically the first Japanese maple tree for most people, it has also become a necessity in every garden and maple collection due to its amazing red color. Zones 5-9

Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ is an upright, slow-growing, vase-shaped form that typically grows over time to as much as 20-25’ tall. It is sometimes commonly called coral bark maple in reference to its distinctive and showy pink bark which provides excellent color and contrast to landscapes in winter. Pink coloration is less pronounced to almost absent in summer. Best pink coloration occurs on young twigs and branches. Palmate leaves with serrate margins emerge yellow- green with reddish margins in spring, mature to light green by summer and turn yellow-gold in fall. Cultivar name means coral tower (sango meaning sea coral and kaku meaning tower/upward growing) as if to suggest this pink-barked cultivar resembles coral rising upward from a reef.

Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’  is a good sun-dappled understory tree and because of its excellent winter bark it should be sited where the pink bark in winter can be most appreciated. Zones 5-8

Acer palmatum ‘Crimson Queen’ is one of the finest Japanese maples, an outstanding dissectum cultivar with a deep-red foliage. Most dissectum cultivars that start out with excellent red color during spring and early summer turn green or bronze later in the season. Crimson Queen carries its deep red color throughout the entire growing season. Crimson Queen is sun, heat and humidity tolerant, but prefers protection from harsh direct sun. Fall color is an array of bright scarlet tones.

Acer palmatum ‘Crimson Queen’ grows in the classic mushroom shape and older trees develop a beautiful branching pattern. The mounding habit of ‘Crimson Queen’ makes for a specimen tree maturing to a maximum height of 8 to 10 feet, although some top out at about 5 feet due to their weeping characteristic, and a spread, depending on pruning, of 7 to 12 feet. Zones 5-8

Acer palmatum ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ Considered one of the top 3 varieties in the world for bonsai, beautiful ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ is a naturally dwarf, layered tree with tight branching. If left alone, it will reach about 5 feet high and wide within a decade and stays much smaller if root-trimmed for bonsai. What makes ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ so distinctive is the way in which the leaves are held. Deeply lobed and quite elongated, they arise in tufts, overlapping one another, as if fanned out for display. This creates little canopies on every branch, a very striking effect.

Acer palmatum ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ In spring, the new foliage unfurls in shades of yellow- tinted green, very pale and eye-catching. As summer arrives, they darken to a rich mid-green and remain that way until the cooler temperatures of autumn, when they burnish brightest orange to scarlet. It is outstanding in containers or the garden. Zones 5-8.

Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ is an older cultivar. A medium sized tree with a most unusual characteristic – the leaves are small and crinkled around upright branches. In Japanese the name translates to Lion’s Head or Lion’s Mane, based upon a mythical lion in Japanese drama because of its shape and growth habit. Bunched up, heavily curled leaves grow at the end of short stout shoots. The foliage is deep green and firm to the touch. The tree structure is stiff – branches and leaves do not wave in the wind, as with most maples. The dark green foliage turns to orange and finally scarlet red in the fall.

Shishigashira is considered a slow growing tree suitable for bonsai enthusiasts. Shishigashira like other Japanese maples, benefits from some pruning to shape the tree, as well as removing any dead branches. The estimated height in 10 years is 12′. Once established this cultivar is hardy to -20 degrees, Zones 5-8

Lisa Centala

Photos show trees at Raincatcher’s in the fall except the last Maple which is new to our garden and photographed last week.

Photos by Starla Willis

My favorite Maple is the Coral Bark Maple because it was given so generously by the Master Gardeners at Raincatcher’s  in honor of my Mother, Betty Haughton.

More about Japanese Maples here.

 

Trimming Vitex

Hopefully, you have taken a moment to watch Evelyn  explain what our Vitex tree needed. Click here for the video if you missed it.

Vitex tree in need of a trim.
Here’s the before picture.

The dormant season is the recommended time for pruning, but sometimes your work force, needs, and timing come together in other seasons.  Evelyn  and Susan, experienced gardeners, took our large, unruly bush and gave it a comely shape.

Here’s the result:

Vitex tree after pruning

Read more about Vitex trees here and in Dallas you can see these trees growing outside the Nasher Museum in downtown Dallas and at the Dallas Arboretum.

Ann Lamb

Picture and video by Starla Willis

Pruning by Susan Swinson and Evelyn Womble

 

 

 

Redbud Trees Planted by Dallas County Master Gardener Eric!

 

BRING ON THE RED WIGGLERS

“Dear Mrs. Jones, Thank you for the best field trip ever! It was awesome! Thank you for helping us make seed balls.  We had so much fun!!!!!”

image

First graders from Lakewood Elementary had a five exclamation point (!!!!!) assessment of their field trip to the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.

One hundred and fifty pairs of sneakers never stopped from the moment they hopped out of four school buses on November 3rd .  Every 15 minutes, timers took the students to another station: seed balls, real live clucking chickens, wiggly red wigglers, “name that vegetable,” herbs and compost. Elizabeth Wilkinson, Cynthia Jones, and Annette Beadles organized the field trip.

“Dear Raincatcher’s Friends, I love you! I love you! I love pumpkins!” 

Lakewood -pumpkin measuring

Annette compared the circumference of pumpkins—and first grade volunteers.  Cynthia showed students how to roll, mash, divot, and taco-fold clay, soil and wildflowers to make seed balls for their school.

Journal coverDear Garden Friends, Thank you for a great time! I love my journal!

Jan Larson assembled 150 journals and sharpened pencils, one for each child.  They carried their journals all day, making notes at each station.

 

The field trip was even the topic of discussion at a Lakewood hair salon.  Jan was telling her stylist about the field trip, and a young woman in the next seat joined the conversation.  “Are you talking about the field trip to the Raincatcher’s Garden?” At Jan’s nod, the mom said she was a chaperone on the field trip and remarked that it was “amazing.” 

With some tears, the Lakewood visitors returned to their classrooms, long-used “temporary” buildings outside an old East Dallas school in need of major repairs.  The forty master gardener volunteers, including DCMG board members, might have kept these thoughts from Rachel Carson in mind:

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla, poster pic by Cynthia

Learn with Lakewood!

Sign up for a field trip!

 

October: Harvest, the Last Hurrah!

At The Raincatcher’s Garden we are offering not only our regular 4 activity station field trips, but also shorter, monthly-themed lessons w/follow-up activities that are based upon connections and the cycles of nature.  We began tracking these patterns with ”September:  Change is Coming” anticipating the turn of the season in the fall garden and planning ahead for spring wildflowers.

 Keeping w/in the monthly theme is “October:  Harvest, the Last Hurrah” in which we introduced our pumpkin unit, Pumpkin Circle, the Story of a Garden by Mary McKenna Siddals & Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons.  The title encapsulates the content of the book perfectly.  By studying life cycles, we learned about the “seed-to-seed” story of a pumpkin, then, related that to the “seed-to-seed” story of the entire garden. 

Pumpkin Class is in Session

Pumpkin Class is in Session

Pumpkins are historically & culturally significant; they were originally domesticated in North America (9000 year-old-seeds have been found in caves in Mexico) and continue to play an important role in holiday celebrations from Halloween Jack-o’-Lanterns to our traditional Thanksgiving feasts complete w/pumpkin pies, breads, muffins. 

Children also love pumpkins for their variety of colors and sizes, some of which are so outlandish and unique.  We even created our own “Pumpkin Patch” with specific samples of pumpkins, gourds, and squash. 

Factoid: Did you know there was a website with video of Libby’s canned pumpkin that details how “pie pumpkins” were developed specifically for their 16 oz cans?  Or, that our beloved tradition of carving Jack-o’-Lantern pumpkins comes from an old fable about a mean, stingy man named Jack who, after his death, was doomed to roam the world carrying a carved-out turnip illuminated by glowing coals, hence, the name Jack-of-the-Lantern or Jack-o’-Lantern? 

The most popular of our varieties, hands down, were our gnarly, orangey-green-colored Native American Squash, weighing in at almost 30 pounds, slightly less than the weight of our smallest 3-year-old visitor from The da Vinci School, and the Knuckle Head Pumpkin, a warty orange oval that raised the “Ick Factor” for ugly.  

As part of our study of the Scientific Process we used our carving pumpkins for “Pumpkin Math” – estimating & measuring (number of seeds, circumference, weight, lines/creases), recording data (individual charts for ESD Primer class & volunteers’ results for our 3’s & Pre-K groups), then reporting & analyzing our results.  Using standard & non-standard measurements, we also compared our weight in pumpkins, estimating first, then using our trusty bathroom scale, & guessing our waist measurements, then tape-measuring to compare that to the circumference of the pumpkin. 

Pumpkin Math with Master Gardener Mrs Beadles

Pumpkin Math with Master Gardener, Mrs Beadles

One child reported, “I weigh 4 carving pumpkins (8 lbs each) + a Cinderella Pumpkin + a Fairy Tale Pumpkin!”  Many of our 3-year-old and Pre-K visitors had smaller waists than our sample pumpkins which averaged 24-27 inches.  After all of the slicing and dicing and eviscerating was done, we separated seeds and pumpkin goop.  And, we still had survivors which eventually fell to the carving knife. 

Pumpkin Goop and Pumpkin Carving with EDS kids

Pumpkin Goop and Pumpkin Carving with ESD students

Later, we enjoyed a treat of toasted seeds (pepitas) and Elizabeth’s delicious pumpkin mini muffins.  Our young visitors returned to their respective schools excitedly reporting these facts and more to anyone who would listen.  

Annettte

Pictures by Starla 

More about Pumpkin:

The Power of Pumpkin

Layered Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

 

Grace Academy Field Trip 2015

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”

Rachel Carson

 

Field trips to The Raincatcher’s Garden are designed to increase that sense of wonder about our natural world. Dallas County Master Gardeners assisted Grace Academy Second Graders as they made their very own journals to write about what they see, feel, and touch in the garden. 

Dallas County Master Gardeners, Nature Journals, and Grace Academy Second Graders

As you know, we spend quality time with worms and learning about vermi-composting!

The Wonder of Worms and how they are known as "Nature's Plough".

Worms are masters of composting. We also teach traditional composting methods.

Lisa, a Master at Composting and Teaching!

Metamorphosis, cocoon to butterfly is studied and the science of  host plants and nectar stations is seen first hand in our butterfly garden.

Grace 2015 Butterflies

Ann

Pictures by Starla

Favorite quote by Cynthia

 

 

School Days, Time to Schedule 2015 Field Trips!

Welcome to the RAINCATCHER’S GARDEN OF MIDWAY HILLS

A One-acre Garden Designed for Students to Learn about Nature

West Dallas Community School Kids Enjoying a Field Trip to The Raincatcher's Garden

West Dallas Community School Kids Enjoying a Field Trip to The Raincatcher’s Garden

In Our Garden Classroom:

Hold a Chicken

Smell an Herb

Find a Caterpillar

Plant a Seed

Taste a Vegetable Warm from the Sun

Feed a Compost Pile

Students are taught by Dallas County Master Gardeners, Gardening Experts with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension using Junior Master Gardener ® Curriculum aligned with Texas standardized testing.

 

Above: Field Trip and Master Gardeners and Visiting Chickens

Above: Field Trip and Master Gardeners and Visiting Chickens

 

Schedule a Free Field Trip by contacting dallasgardenbuzz@gmail.com or clicking on the School Field Trip Request Form.

 

Location:  THE RAINCATCHER’S GARDEN OF MIDWAY HILLS

11001 Midway Road, Dallas (between Forest & Royal Lanes)

 

 We’ll leave the Garden Gate Open for You

 More information about our Free School Field Trips: page one, page two

First Field Trip at The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

West Dallas Community School fifth graders came to our new gardens last week. Composting, Butterflies, Vermiculture, and Herbs were the subjects of the day!

The Wonder of Worms, Nature's Composters in the Palm of Your Hand

The Wonder of Worms, Nature’s Composters in the Palm of Your Hand

How to “host” butterflies in your garden, how to provide nectar sources, these were some of  the topics in butterfly class.

Jane and Judy Teaching West Dallas 5th Graders

Jane and Judy Teaching West Dallas 5th Graders All About Butterflies

“Along with milk and vegetables, kids need a steady diet of rocks and worms. Rocks need skipping, holes need digging, water needs splashing, and bugs and frogs and slimy stuff need finding.”  *

Linda teaching the science of herbs!

Linda Teaching the Science of Herbs

Our free, garden field trips provide this type of outdoor learning experience.  Science is taught in a hands on, interesting way. For more information about our school field trips, please click here.

West Dallas Community School, we are so glad you are back!

Ann

Pictures by Starla

*Quote  by Go RVing!

 

 

Texas Can Academy Visits The Demonstration Garden

Texas Can Academy visited us Tuesday bringing 39 kids and 3 adults. Instead of the usual field trips to water parks and amusement centers the teachers wanted to build on what they are learning in class about healthy eating and nutrition.  Gardening efforts were already underway at Texas Can Academy with the students planting squash, green beans, peas, and tomatoes. They wanted to learn more about how to set up a “real garden” so a trip to our Demonstration Garden was the perfect next step. 

Keeping a Garden Journal is introduced to our students. This future gardener is writing about herbs he has just tasted, touched, and smelled.

Keeping a Garden Journal is introduced to our students. This future gardener is writing about herbs he has just tasted, touched, and smelled.

We have had 210 students visiting our gardens since the beginning of April, 2014. Our Field Trips are designed to augment the school’s curriculum.  Annette, our educational director, works with teachers to set up learning centers in our gardens taught by Dallas County Master Gardeners.

This little girl is holding up a self watering container she made.  She will be able to take this home and sprout her own seeds.

This little girl is holding up a self watering container she made. She will be able to take this home and sprout her own seeds.

 It’s rewarding to introduce these little children to the joys of gardening.  We like to remind little folks that their t-shirts and jeans are made from the produce of this plant. Note the wonder and surprise in this little girl’s face; a precious moment for us as well. Read more about cotton here.

Excitement in the garden is contagious.  Jim is showing students our cotton plants and cotton bolls.

Excitement in the garden is contagious. Jim is showing students our cotton plants and cotton bolls.

Dallas County Master Gardeners spend a good deal of time and energy with compost! Grass clippings, brown leaves, and vegetable and fruit scraps create the fertilizer for our gardens which eventually feeds us.  We hope to inspire a whole new generation of future composters.

Good compost smells good!

Good compost smells good!

Improve your compost skills by reading Cindy’s Compost tips and you will see why we call her “the compassionate composter”.  For more field trip information click on this link.  Plan your fall visit now.

Thank you Texas Can Academy for visiting us, we will see you again in the fall!

Ann and Annette

Pictures by Starla

West Dallas Community School Third Graders In The Garden

The 28 third graders who came to our garden Tuesday did not need much coaching in appreciating nature.

WDCS Third Graders Harvest A Carrot The loved the carrots and took them back to school for afternoon snacks.. Rosemary was another hit. Last week one of the kids  said he would sleep with Rosemary under his pillow. Maybe  there  will be alot of Rosemary under pillows this week!

WDCS Children PIcking Rosemary

It was a day of garden based education:  learning  the science of compost, how to attract wildlife to the garden, growing vegetables like beans, carrots, lettuce, and swiss chard; and how flowers  regenerate by seed.  Third Graders At The Demonstration Garden From West Dallas Community School

Class dismissed!

Ann

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