Crow’s Nest: Visit the barnyard garden
By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.
July represents a second peak season of wildflowers at Crow’s Nest Preserve. Sun-loving native perennial wildflowers fill the meadows, hedgerow edges—and the gardens planted at the visitor center. Even if you don’t have the time or inclination to hike far on the trails on our 712 acre preserve, consider stopping by to enjoy the wildflowers at the visitor center barn at 201 Piersol Road. We planted them in part to inspire people to use native species in their home gardens.
The visitor center itself is normally open by appointment or chance, though for health safety reasons we’ve been running our programs now for a second year without groups entering it. There is a public restroom with an exterior entrance that is sanitized daily; Covid-19-vaccinated individuals may use it without wearing a mask. Above, a Eastern Tiger Swallowtail visits a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Notably, the host plants for the larva of this species include tuliptrees, black cherry, and sweetbay magnolia, so the nectar of the coneflowers is just one part of the equation for attracting and promoting their populations.
Above, a Monarch also feeds on a purple coneflower, and below, a Black Swallowtail on coneflower with bee balm, (Monarda didyma) in the background. Volunteers maintain the gardens, though we’ve deliberately chosen a wild aesthetic which means that once the plants are actively growing there isn’t much weeding to do—the wildflowers crowd out most of the weeds. There are plant labels, though by this time of the year they tend to disappear under the plants. We also have a guide to 50 wildflowers at the barn that you can see here.