Nature Conversations: Stoneleigh: a natural garden

April 23, 2020

Ed Cunicelli PhotographerOnce the estate of the Haas family, Stoneleigh: a natural garden emphasizes native plant species used in unexpected ways.

Today’s expert is Ethan Kauffman, director of Stoneleigh. Before joining Natural Lands Ethan spent nine years at Moore Farms Botanical Garden. He earned his BS in Biological Sciences from Clemson University.

Here are highlights from our conversation with Ethan, originally hosted on our Facebook page.

Stoneleigh: a natural garden

Hi, this is Ethan Kauffman, director of Stoneleigh: a natural garden. I am looking forward to discussing any and all things Stoneleigh today.

Mae Axelrod

What are you planting this spring at Stoneleigh?
We are lucky that our native flora offers so many wonderful choices to plant in the garden. The staff has been enjoying working with mossy phlox, rue anemone, woodland phlox, creeping phlox, and other spring flowering perennials. Now is the perfect time to plant!

Hi Ethan, Have you been seeing more animals around?
We have noticed that birds have been very active, especially on the the dead trees we leave for wildlife use, or the areas of the turf we have allowed to grow long and meadow-like. There is a red-tailed hawk nest in one of the large white pines, and they often vocalize throughout the day.

We’ve also seen the White-breasted Nuthatch in the garden recently. Growing up, this was always one of my favorite birds, so I am delighted we often see them at Stoneleigh. They may be small, but they have huge personalities–the way they bounce and hop around upside-down foraging for insects on branches and trees is captivating and mesmerizing.

Is there any Shoaf’s Double Pink at Stoneleigh?
Yes! This is a very beautiful selection of our native rue anemone. Typically, the flowers are white, but in this selection, which was found in the wild in Minnesota, the flowers are pink and have extra petals, resulting in a highly ornamental plant. An absolute woodland jewel with a long flowering periodl! Look for the species in places at our preserves such as Sadsbury Woods or Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary.

Thanks for spending some time with me this morning, and stay safe and well.