Walk on the Wild Side: Matthaei in May

This event has ended
Wednesday, May 8th, 2024
to (Eastern Time)
Matthaei Botanical Gardens - Great Lakes Gardens, 1800 N Dixboro Rd, Ann Arbor, MI, 48105 Map

Public Welcome Family Friendly Free Event Chapter Meeting Wheelchair Accessible Public Restroom Drinking Fountains


Guide: Calla Butler, Native Plant Horticulturist, Matthaei Botanical Gardens

The Great Lakes Gardens at Matthaei re-create our region’s natural habitats with woodlands, open dunes, alvar, and prairies. Calla Butler, Native Plant Horticulturist at Matthaei, will lead us through the early season of these native plant communities providing cues for the conditions they require to thrive. This is an opportunity to learn about both rare and familiar natives in emergent phases, to identify the cycles of their growth, and to know what plants might be suited to thriving in your own home environment. The tour ends with a visit to the beaver's handiwork on Fleming Creek. 

MEETING POINT: We’ll gather in the Gateway Garden, directly east of the entrance to the Visitor Center (to the left if you are facing the Visitor Center entrance), before proceeding to the adjacent Great Lakes Gardens.

Here is a welcome message from Calla, with some of the highlights of her journey with plants!

Hi Wild Ones! My name is Calla Butler and I am the Native Plant Gardens Horticulturist at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. I started this role in March, but I previously worked at Matthaei for two years as a seasonal horticulture technician. Before Matthaei I was a Head Gardener at a landscape design and maintenance company, and I also worked as a floriculturist at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle.

I have been working with and interested in native plants for most of my life. My mom started a native plant nursery outside of Philadelphia, so I grew up working and learning there. I feel very lucky to have had that experience, because I believe growing plants is one of the best ways to really learn, understand, and appreciate them. 

As the Native Plant Gardens Horticulturist I maintain the Great Lakes Gardens (alongside wonderful volunteers!), collect and process native seed, and propagate plants for both restoration and our native plant sale. Maintaining the Great Lakes Gardens has been a wonderful learning experience. I can’t think of many gardens with such a variety of native plants—a little over 300 species! My current favorite plant in the gardens is Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica). The blue flower is a striking color, and the fact that hummingbirds like it makes it even better!  

I hope to see many of you on the walk through the Great Lakes Gardens, where we can visit our prairie, alvar, woodland, and dune! I will discuss some of our maintenance techniques in these spaces, and we will see what’s in bloom, before ending with a walk to the newly established beaver dam on Fleming Creek. See you there! 

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