For McIntire Botanical Garden, 2019 was a year of growth and celebration. Word about MBG is spreading, and there are many
signs that the community is ready to support the Garden and make
it a reality.
This year in particular, we saw increased support from our community partners. SariSand Tile and Rockpile Construction and Vitae Spirits Distillery both hosted fundraising events. Last winter, thanks to Bartlett Tree Experts, trail work began to improve access to the Garden site and this fall, a grant from Bama Works Fund of Dave Matthews Band at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation helped clear more than four acres of destructive invasive plants.
Our programs attracted a wide range of attendees from throughout Central Virginia. Visioning walks welcomed the community to tour the Garden; our friends at Charlottesville Tree Stewards led tree walks to demonstrate how to identify the many varieties of native trees in the Garden; and our Butterfly Walks were so popular that we had to add more to the schedule.
Organizational growth was highly visible in our volunteer corps which nearly doubled to more than 150 hardy and dedicated souls. Our volunteers showed their willingness to get their hands dirty for MBG with regular on-site litter removal, large scale work days or supporting events in the cold of January or the heat of August. We are very proud to report that as of the beginning of December, our volunteers had clocked more than 13,000 hours since we started tracking hours in 2017!
Our development efforts also reached a new level and have increased dramatically since 2017 when our Director of Development, Karmen Gustin, came aboard. Thanks to her efforts, focused outreach to new audiences and several matching gifts from local supporters, we raised the funds needed to rent our first office, hire our first Executive Director, and keep up with our normal expenses. In addition, we are putting funds aside for the future design phases of the Garden, and recently became a participating non-profit partner of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation (CACF).
If you aren’t impressed enough yet, let me remind you that the Master Plan for MBG won a National American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) award. To quote Brian Daly, (Former Director of Charlottesville Department of Parks and Recreation), “This award is a very big deal!”
Thanks to everyone for your support of MBG in 2019! I’m so encouraged by our progress, but it needs to continue if we are going to achieve our goal of building a free and accessible Garden for all. If you are looking for ways to get involved, I have a few suggestions:
Contact your city councilor and planning commissioner and urge them to include the infrastructure for McIntire Park East in this year’s CIP budget.
Attend the annual Ian Robertson Legacy Lectureship on March 8, 2020, or be a sponsor.
Become a donor. This ambitious gift to and from our community needs you!
On behalf of Board of Directors, I wish you a happy, healthy holiday season and 2020.
Winter Bird Feeding: Is it for the Birds?
by David I. White, Jr., Volunteer
It’s that time of year… winter, with its potential to alter food availability for our avian friends, is a season when many folks break out their bird feeders, while others just keep feeding throughout the year.Whatever your feeding pattern, now into early spring is an ideal time to set up the buffet.
Which feeder and what kind of food?
If you are just starting out – keep it simple: a basic platform feeder works just fine, and black oil sunflower seed is the favorite for a majority of species. Other options are to add a niger (“thistle”) feeder for finches and a suet feeder for woodpeckers and nuthatches.
If you buy bird seed mix, look for blends with the most sunflower seed. Sparrows, juncoes and other ground feeders like other grains, but sunflower, especially black oil sunflower, should be dominant.You can always make your own feed by starting with 100% sunflower and adding a portion of a good mix.As with anything, quality counts, so look for bird seed that is relatively free of debris (empty shells, bits of chaff and sticks, etc.) or looks clean and not dusty or dirty.
Location. Location. Location.
Where to put your feeder is as important as what you put in it. Window strikes can be lethal to birds, so keep feeders a modest distance from windows -- preferably 5-20 feet.When a bird “sees” a window, it can mistake a reflection of trees for the real thing and fly into the window.Placing cut-out silhouettes of birds of prey on the window to “break up” the reflection can be helpful.Also, placing the feeder near a bush or small tree allows birds to assess potential danger from predators before venturing into the open. Yes, winter hawks need to eat, too, and they have a habit of knowing the area’s best “diners,” so trees or bushes can provide a safe space for small birds should an attack occur.
For birds only.
Besides hawks, be aware of cats.Keep your feeders elevated on poles or perhaps hanging from tree limbs or garden poles.With the addition of a baffle on the pole, this will also reduce issues with squirrels who seem to get plenty to eat just grazing under feeders.Cats, domestic and feral, are a major menace to birds, especially when those birds are concentrated around feeders during times of food scarcity.
Don’t forget about water.
What goes best with food?Yes, drink!Water can be a lifesaver for avian life in harsh weather.If there is snow cover, birds can get by, but when the ground is snow-free and water sources are frozen or non-existent, then avian life can be threatened.An elevated birdbath adds a level of security, and birdbath de-icers can be found at hardware stores.
One last thought: don’t be so quick to clean up your fall garden and lawn.Those flower heads can hold nutrition, and leaves can harbor meals for the little feathered beasties.
For more information about nurturing our native avian life, check out Cornell’s “All About Birds,” the National Audubon Society, the American Bird Conservancy, or drop by the monthly meeting of the local Monticello Bird Club. Bon Appetit!
Fall Appeal Continues Momentum
As the year comes to a close, we wanted to share some highlights from our Development efforts over the last several months.What has become abundantly clear is that the community of Central Virginia wants this Public Garden.
We know this from past city input meetings that led to the inclusion of the Garden within the McIntire Park East Comprehensive Plan and more recently, through community surveys and questionnaires shared by our landscape architects.
We know it because:
Our philanthropic income over the past 48 months has increased 2,500 percent!
The number of donors to this project has increased 1,700 percent!
Our Annual Campaign has more than tripled in just two years!
We know this because some of YOU have figured out creative ways to help us raise funds approaching half a million dollars over and above our Annual Fund contributions.
One couple has offered $125,000 in successive matching challenges to help MBG grow its constituency.This contributed to our being the recipient of 852 gifts this year, up from 47 gifts, two short years ago.
Another donor is contributing the qualified charitable gift from his IRA on a monthly basis.
One couple has made a multi-year pledge of $150,000 in unrestricted funding to the organization.
Others have made large donations, memorializing loved ones, asking friends and family to match their investments.
A few are considering making bequests in their estate plans.
Our Board is working hard to strengthen the organization and our development program so that we will be prepared to meet the major-gift challenge that lies ahead.But, our Board is simply the group that is putting the mechanics in place to create a public Garden. YOU AND OUR ENTIRE COMMUNITY are ultimately the people who will build the Garden.It will be your involvement and your contributions that will allow the Garden to succeed!
Please consider supporting our Fall Appeal and making a gift before the end of the year. Thanks to the support of nearly 250 community members, we've exceeded our $25,000 matching challenge! Currently, we're just $34,250 short of meeting our December 31 goal.
MBG Master Plan Receives National Recognition
As reported in the last newsletter, the Master Plan of McIntire Botanical Garden was honored by the
American Society of Landscape Architects for its Analysis and Planning. Joan Swanberg, MBG President, and Jill Trischman-Marks, Executive Director attended the ASLA National Meeting in San Diego last month where the award was presented to the design team of Mikyoung Kim Design and Waterstreet Studio.
This year, the ASLA received 544 entries of which 36 received awards. At the award ceremony, projects recognized for being the best of landscape architecture from the United States and around the world were acknowledged and celebrated.In honoring MBG, the ASLA Jury noted:
"This master plan for a new botanical garden in a park in Charlottesville, Virginia, was driven by the community’s aspirations, insights, and desire for a place of healing and unity. Responding to the steep topography of the wooded site, the plan calls for terraced gardens and discovery walks, play areas, meadows, groves, wetlands, a waterfall, and event spaces, all facilitating natural and personal exploration. The plan calls for the site to be sustainable and resilient, encouraging a new kind of civic engagement that demonstrates how landscape can influence both the ecological and cultural systems of a community."
Getting Into the Spirit During #GivingTuesday
#GivingTuesday was created in 2012 to encourage people to do good. Over the past seven years, the idea has grown into a global movement that has inspired hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. This year, MBG decided to get into the spirit, and our friends at Vitae Spirits Distillery in Charlottesville offered to help.
The Distillery is a neighbor of the Garden, located not far from McIntire Park and is known for the unique botanical illustrations which adorn each bottle. Vitae Spirits’ owner Ian Glomski agreed to host a cocktail party at the Distillery and donate a percentage of cocktail sales to the Garden. In addition, 100 percent of the proceeds from a raffle went to the Garden.
One of the more popular sips during the evening was “Grandmother Drake’s Winter Wassail” generously contributed by Vitae Spirits’ TJ Drake who served as bartender for the evening. For those of you who couldn’t join us, we’ve shared the recipe. Cheers!
Grandmother Drake’s Winter Wassail
2 quarts sweet cider
1 pint real cranberry juice
1 750ml Vitae Spirits Golden Rum
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
2 oranges studded with cloves
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook for 1 hour
on high or 4-8 hours on low.
Save the Date: Ian Robertson Legacy Lectureship
The Ian Robertson Legacy Lectureship honors the late Ian Robertson, master horticulturist, renowned landscape designer, educator and author, by providing educational lectures as an annual fundraiser for the McIntire Botanical Garden.
The 2020 Lectureship is the third annual event and takes place on March 8, 2020. This year’s speaker is Mikyoung Kim, Founding Principal, Mikyoung Kim Design and the lead landscape architect behind the Master Plan for the McIntire Botanical Garden. Mikyoung’s topic will be “Reclaiming the City:A Focus on Centered Design.”
All are welcome. Tickets go on sale in mid-January. Watch our website or Facebook page for more details. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information please firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer Spotlight: James Walker, Bartlett Tree Experts
Q) What inspired you to volunteer with MBG?
This Garden will be a big deal for Charlottesville, and I have followed it from the beginning by attending the public information sessions and asking questions. It is a unique opportunity to do something for this community that will be an asset now and for
Q) How did you get involved?
I work for Bartlett Tree Experts, and trees are my personal and professional passion.As I learned more about the status of the
site last year, I realized that Bartlett had a special capacity with crew and equipment for kick-starting the early stages of site management.Access to the site is important for the public and possible donors to see and experience the potential of this future garden.
Q) What have you done on the site?
In January, I organized a team of Bartlett Tree Experts and equipment to begin to penetrate the interior of the garden site with trails to allow access.We led a team of 50 enthusiastic MBG volunteers to cut trails, clear brush, create mulch and clear vines out of some of the special trees in the area.I’ve been pleased to see progress in invasive species management and in the increased number of educational nature walks throughout this year.
Q) What is your favorite thing about volunteering for the Garden?
Volunteering for this Garden at such an early stage in development is very satisfying.I have particularly enjoyed this rare opportunity to help create a significant community asset from the ground up.It appears that momentum is really growing and I am happy to be a part of it.
HELP WANTED.... Volunteers are always needed!
Would you like to get your hands dirty? We have a number of volunteer openings and would love to have you join us. Check our websitefor more information.