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PROJECT "R"
PROJECT "F"
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SMALL PROJECTS
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POLLINATORS & NATIVE BEES
THE HOLLOW IN WINTER
QUANTUM CHAOS - A BOOK BY STEPHEN COAN
HABITAT GARDENS
THE MONTESSORI LABYRINTH AND WILDLIFE HABITAT PROJECT
COLLINGSWOOD, NJ COMMUNITY HABITAT PROJECT
FERRET HOLLOW GARDENS
THE FAUNA OF FERRET HOLLOW
FERRET HOLLOW GARDEN TOURS
2018 GARDEN TOUR
RESOURCES
PLANT RESOURCES
PUBLIC GARDENS AND ARBORETUMS
NATIVE PLANT INFORMATION
INVASIVE PLANT INFORMATION
PLANT AND ANIMAL ID RESOURCES
WILDLIFE RESCUE CENTERS
ECOLOGY
RECOMMENDED BOOKS
AMARYLLIS CARE
STEPHEN COAN - ARTIST
GARDEN BLOG CONTACT

THE MONTESSORI LABYRINTH AND WILDLIFE HABITAT PROJECT

Article by Matt Simberg - The Montessori Academy of Delran, NJ Upper Elementary and Adolescent Program Teacher

Labyrinths are seen across cultures throughout the history of humanity dating back to the Bronze Age. A labyrinth is designed based on the principles of trust, guidance and reflection. There is one path to follow with no dead-ends or choices to be made in order to reach the destination. Sometimes people confuse labyrinths with mazes. Mazes have many paths and dead ends and have high "walls" between the paths so that you can't see where you are going. There are choices throughout a maze. Mazes relate to multiplicity, choice, and strategy. The purpose of a maze has nothing to do with reflection, purpose or trust.

A purposefully constructed labyrinth is much like the prepared environment in a Montessori classroom, as well as a metaphor for the journey of life. Just as one's life journey is personal, unique and filled with meaning, so is one's journey through the labyrinth. Ultimately, the idea for the labyrinth is based upon finding an internal balance and having a reflection space for answering ones questions in life. 

The Landscape Artist Stephen Coan of Stephen Coan LLC at Ferret Hollow Gardens, Frank Burkhauser, and I have collaborated and come up with a purposeful labyrinth to be created in the back of our school. It is an incredibly well designed and thoughtful project. When the three of us shared the plans with Ms. Fox, (the owner of the school) she pointed out that the labyrinth is an education in itself. In fact, when I think about it I realize that it relates to the studies of geometry and mathematics, biology, horticulture, agriculture, astronomy, orienteering, history, geology, independence and self-reflection.

This particular labyrinth is a single path labyrinth (of 365 units representing the days of the year) aligned along the central axis with the sunrise and sunset of the two Equinoxes' (the Vernal, around March 21 and the Autumnal, around September 21). On these two calendar days, the length of day and that of night are equal. This occurs twice a year when the sun's rays perpendicularly hit the earth's equator. There are also plans on having Markers that will line up with the Cardinal Points on the Compass and the Sunrise and Sunset of each of the two Solstices. The summer solstice, when the sun appears at its highest point in the sky with the most perpendicular rays hitting the Tropic of Cancer, the longest day, around June 21, and the Winter Solstice, when the sun's perpendicular rays are dominantly hitting the Tropic of Capricorn, which is our shortest day, around December 21. This demonstrates the passage of time and therefore Life.  

Additionally, Steve has planned on a sculptural element in the center of the labyrinth that aligns with Polaris, the North Star, which maintains a fixed position in the night sky. This will give one walking the path to the center something to observe and find a fixed point in the night sky, their life, allowing them to have a constant point of reference in their Journey literally and metaphorically. If you know where the North Star is then you can find your way.  

The labyrinth is surrounded by a dry moat filled with stone to divert and allow drainage of water. There will also be rain gardens, into which the rainwater will be absorbed. Contained within the ditch will be a mound that circles the labyrinth creating a "private" space for the labyrinth. The labyrinth itself has an outer ring section and an inner spiral section that represents the Earth. One enters the labyrinth path from the East, far right (see drawing above) and sits at the first of the four circles that represent the four elements - earth, air, water, and fire. The center circle of the Labyrinth and the three other circular areas will be 12' in diameter representing the twelve months of the year and within each of these areas will have a 4' diameter circular area representing the four seasons of the year.  

The first area representing earth is a waiting area to sit and attune to the natural surroundings, and to prepare to enter the labyrinth. This first area will have plant life or a Zen garden. When ready, one then progresses to the second circle, representing air. Here they may consider the questions that they would like to reflect upon, and what they would like to try to understand as they take the path through the labyrinth. The circle that represents air may have a wind chamber with aromatic herbs or flowers. The third circle is the center of the Labyrinth, which is entered by crossing over a bridge and proceeding along the southern portion, bottom-half, of the Labyrinth. The individual on their journey works their way through the spiral where they will come to the central circle representing water, with a small pond in the center. Here they may sit and contemplate or receive a lesson from their guide/instructor who would be sitting at the Northern position which would have the alignment of the North Star over their head. When the lesson or personal contemplation is complete, the individual exits the center and continues out along the Earth Spiral to the Northern half of the outer ring of the labyrinth.  

One distinction that separates this labyrinth from traditional labyrinths is that typically the entrance and exit are the same. This was done on purpose to relate to the journey of life where one begins, goes through a process, and then comes to a useful conclusion. Upon leaving the labyrinth the individual crosses another bridge, representing their found Path in Life, and proceeds to the fourth circle representing the final element, fire. This circle will have afire pit. Fire is an essential, meaningful, transforming and eternal symbol. Here the individual may sit and reflect upon their experiences of the labyrinth and their own Journey through Life.  It is an anchoring space so the individual has a better chance of taking their lesson or answers with them.  

Structurally the labyrinth will be designated with edging that is then filled with the walkway medium, a red stone, to match the color of the school and surrounded by the planting medium. We will introduce plants to the area which require little to no maintenance, care, or watering. The surrounding woods will be eliminated of invasive species of plants that are overtaking the native plants. The existing invasive non-native plants in the area are mostly multi-flora rose that have a lot of thorns on all of the stems. The wood edge will consist of a series of shrubs and native perennials that are beneficial to the native wildlife.

Created & Designed by:
Stephen Coan
Stephen Coan, LLC - Landscape Design and Consulting
Located at Ferret Hollow Gardens
131 Lawnside Avenue
Collingswood, NJ 08108
267.251.5855
info@scoandesign.com
www.scoandesign.com

COLLINGSWOOD, NJ COMMUNITY HABITAT PROJECT

Article by Stephen Coan, Team Leader for the Collingswood Community Habitat Project.

About the Collingswood Community Habitat Project

Collingswood, NJ is registered with the National Wildlife Federation, NWF, to become a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat which requires a number of properties certified for the program, private homes, schools, places of worship, businesses, parks, and town properties.  There are already a number of homes and a school certified with new ones being certified every month.

The NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program has a new formal partnership with the New Jersey Audubon Society with co-certification of each habitat created. Together they are recognizing the efforts of those in each of these select states who commit to creating wildlife habitats with a co-certification of the Certified Wildlife Habitats.

This page will post updates as we move forward. 

I’m Stephen Coan, an ecological  landscape designer and horticulturist located in Collingswood, NJ that is organizing the project.  My property and its extensive low-maintenance gardens that we have named Ferret Hollow Gardens has been certified as a Wildlife Habitat and a Pollinator Habitat since 2006.    

If you love gardening and connecting with people in your community, the National Wildlife Federation can help you certify your community as a Community Wildlife Habitat.

A Community Wildlife Habitat is a community that provides habitat for wildlife throughout the community--in individual backyards, on school grounds and in public areas such as parks, community gardens, places of worship and businesses.

It is a place where the residents make it a priority to provide habitat for wildlife by providing the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young.  Plus using sustainable practices in the different gardens creating a healthy environment.  

The community also educates its residents about sustainable gardening practices such as reducing or eliminating chemical fertilizers and pesticides, conserving water, planting native plants, removing invasive plants and composting.

Community Wildlife Habitats are organized by a team of people, who not only help create habitat, but also hold workshops about gardening for wildlife and organize community events such as stream or trail cleanups.

A Community Habitat project creates a place where people, flora and fauna can all flourish!

The National Wildlife Federation’s Community Habitat Program now has more than 105 communities across the country either certified or in the process and they range in size from small towns of a few thousand to larger communities of close to million residents.

For more information:  NWF Community Wildlife Habitats

The community habitat program involves having multiple gardens developed or installed throughout the community that include different plants and water sources that are beneficial to pollinators – butterflies, bees, birds, etc. which will provide the different life services for them.  It can be simple to complex, you decide how much you are able to do.  

In order to acquire the designation a garden/property/landscape must meet the following five basic requirements:
1.    Food 
2.    Water
3.    Shelter
4.    Places to bear the young
5.    Sustainability
For instance by putting in milkweed in gardens, my favorite is Butterfly Plant – Asclepias tuberosa, it has orange flowers from June to August, you can help support Monarch Butterflies with a food source.  By putting in different types of Oak Trees you are supporting over 500 different species of Lepidoptera (butterflies & moths) and the list can go on and on.  

The process can be simple.  The homeowner or community has the opportunity to make the process either simple or complex by each participant deciding how far they want to go with their own gardens from simply adding a few beneficial plants to a complex planting scheme.  A water source is needed in each case.  Simple - Birdbath, bird feeder, birdhouse, some perennials, shrubs, no chemicals.  More complex – the above plus a larger diversity of native plants and beneficial ornamental plants to benefit the local fauna - butterflies, bees, beneficial insects, birds, etc. 

The use of chemicals and pesticides is greatly discouraged in favor of more natural and beneficial means.  The best alternatives, which are actually better working than chemicals, are the use of leaf mulch, leaf mold, compost, compost tea, and beneficial insects.   A garden is all about the soil.  It is necessary to have a large diversity of biological, bacterial, and fungal organisms in the soil to break down the nutrients that are then fed to the plants through the roots which are just “sponges” and be able to support the different beneficial soil invertebrates.  

Through my own research I have found that the best mulch to use in the garden is leaf mulch that can be produced in the fall by grinding up your leaves and branches and placing the mixture in the garden beds about 3" - 4” thick.  It will compact down during the winter.  This should be all that you need for the year.  I usually keep a trash can full to fill in spots that might need touch-ups.  

You can also make leaf mold by letting the leaves sit in a compost bin to somewhat break down during the composting to destroy any harmful organisms.  This method is used by Longwood Gardens.  The leaf deterioration will increase the food necessary to feed and increase the biological content in the soil.  Additionally I have found that the use of compost, placed under the leaf mulch, and the use of compost tea, which is sprayed, poured either onto the plant leaves or onto the soil is really all you need to control pest and disease in addition to a well balanced community of native insects.  A healthy plant in the proper well-balanced healthy environment is much better able to fight off diseases and pests.  This also applies to lawns of turf grass that I really don't recommend having too much of.  A recent study has found that a lawn treated with a good compost tea instead of chemicals will develop roots 8” to 12” deep and is much healthier due to the proper biological content of the soil as opposed to 2” to 4” with the use of chemicals.  This would help the turf grass survive drier periods by allowing access to moisture content deeper in the soil.  

The plants – perennials, shrubs, and trees, are the foundation to support and feed wildlife – butterflies, bees, birds, etc.  The loss of their native habitat – plants, due to development has decreased their number.  This is especially demonstrated by the large decrease in population of Monarch Butterflies and their loss of habitat food sources along streams particularly the different milkweeds. If we design our gardens to include beneficial plants we would then attract them back to our gardens.  A very good resource book to understand what is going on and what can be done on our own properties and towns is Professor Douglas Tallamy’s book “Bringing Nature Home”.  http://www.bringingnaturehome.net   

Most birds raise their young on caterpillars and insects feeding their young hundreds per week.   So the more plants that attract beneficial insects the more birds in the area.  The more birds in the area the more that can eat the bugs that we consider bad including mosquitos. 

One thing that I also do is raising and managing native bees, Mason Bees in the spring, and Bumble Bees in the summer.  They pollinate the flowers of the perennials, shrubs, and trees that in turn produce more fruit, which in turn feed the birds and other wildlife and of course, us.

I also have a frog pond that supplies water to the different insects and birds plus it harbors the frogs.  Having some sort of water feature in your garden is necessary for the designation.  It could be as simple as a bird bath, to a pond, or stream running through your property.  

For additional information please see the projects Website & Facebook page. 

If you would like to participate in the project but just don’t have the ability to do the work yourself and need someone to design and install it for you or need to privately consult with me about how to achieve the certification or just have a better outdoor living space and gardens please feel free to contact me.

Stephen Coan 
Collingswood Community Habitat Team Leader
267-251-5855
habitat@scoandesign.com
http://collingswoodhabitat.com

FERRET HOLLOW GARDENS

About Ferret Hollow Gardens

Ferret Hollow Gardens is a Certified Wildlife Habitat listed by the National Wildlife Federation and is a Certified Pollinator Habitat listed by the Xerces Society.  It is located in Collingwood NJ at a private residence in Zone 7a.  It is also the showcase garden for the Collingswood Community Wildlife Habitat Project.  Visitors to the garden throughout the year are welcome by appointment only.   In order to acquire the designation a garden/property/landscape must meet the following five basic requirements:
1.    Food 
2.    Water
3.    Shelter
4.    Places to bear the young
5.    Sustainable gardening practices

There needs to be a diversity of native plants to benefit the local fauna.  The use of chemicals and pesticides is greatly discouraged in favor of more natural and beneficial means.  The best alternatives, which are actually better working than chemicals, are the use of leaf mold, compost, and compost tea.   A garden is all about the soil.  It is necessary to have a large diversity of biological, bacterial, and fungal organisms in the soil to break down the nutrients that are then fed to the plants through the roots which are just “sponges.”
Through my own research I have found that the best mulch to use in the garden is leaf mulch that can be produced in the fall by grinding up your leaves and branches and placing the mixture in the garden beds about 3 - 4 inches thick.  This method is used by Longwood Gardens.  The leaf deterioration will increase the food necessary to feed and increase the biological content in the soil.  Additionally I have found that the use of leaf compost, placed under the leaf mulch, and compost tea, which is sprayed, poured either onto the plant leaves or onto the soil is really all you need to control pest and disease in addition to a well balanced community of native insects.  A healthy plant in the proper well-balanced environment is much better able to fight off diseases and pests.  This also applies to lawns of turf grass that I really don't recommend having.  A recent study has found that a lawn treated with a good compost tea instead of chemicals will develop roots 8” to 12” deep and is much healthier due to the proper biological content of the soil.  


Starting in 2010 Stephen Coan, the owner of Ferret Hollow Gardens, had begun working on the process of getting other homes certified and become part of the Collingswood, NJ Community Wildlife Habitat Project using the idea of environmentally green gardens that are both enjoyable and sustainable in the hopes of spreading the seeds for the creation of backyard wildlife habitats.  He is now the Team Leader for the project.

 

THE FAUNA OF FERRET HOLLOW

BIRDS: 
1.    BLUE JAYS 
2.    AMERICAN ROBINS
3.    NORTHERN CARDINALS
4.    MOURNING DOVES
5.    AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES
6.    CAROLINA WRENS
7.    HOUSE WRENS
8.    DARK-EYED JUNKOS
9.    TUFTED TITMOUSE
10.  BLACK CAPPED CHICKADEES
11.  WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH
12.  RED-BRESTED NUTHATCH
13.  RUBY THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS
14.  HOUSE SPARROW
15.  WHITE CROWNED SPARROW
16.  WHITE THROATED SPARROW
17.  RED FOX SPARROW
18.  RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD
19.  RED BELLIED WOODPECKERS
20.  YELLOW BELLIED SAPSUCKERS
21.  DOWNY WOODPECKERS
22.  NORTHERN FLICKERS
23.  RED-TAILED HAWKS
24.  COOPER’S HAWKS
25.  GRAY CAT BIRDS
26.  NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS
27.  BALTIMORE ORIOLE
28.  SCARLET TANAGER - MALE
29.  MAGNOLIA WARBLER
30.  COMMON GRACKLES
31.  EUROPEAN STARLINGS
32.  HOUSE FINCHES
33.  AMERICAN CROWS
34.  ROCK DOVES
35.  MYRTLE YELLOW-RUMPED WOOD-WARBLER
36.  WILD TURKEY
37.  PLUS OCCASIONAL MIGRATORY BIRDS

ANIMALS: 
1.    CHIPMUNKS – EMMA, STELLA, MINA, LENA, SITA, BILLY BOB, ETC.  
2.    SQUIRRELS
3.    MICE
4.    MOLES
5.    RACCOONS
6.    OPPOSSUMS
7.    FOX
8.    KOI
9.    COMETS
10.  BLACK MOORS
11.  FROGS

FERRET HOLLOW GARDEN TOURS

Ferret Hollow Gardens is a Certified Wildlife Habitat and Certified Pollinator Habitat.  It is the showcase garden for the Collingswood Community Wildlife Habitat Project through the National Wildlife Federation.  It's been on numerous garden tours since 2003 with the Annual House and Garden Tour in Collingswood NJ that is held on the Sunday after Mothers Day each year.  Each time the amount of visitors has increased to over 700 on that one day.  We provide information to all regarding ecological benefits, how to attract butterflies, how to have your garden certified as a wildlife habitat garden, how to manage native bees, going "green," plant descriptions and culture, microclimates, the ecological benefits of having a pond or water feature, the local fauna, and how to arrange a private consultation.

Starting in 2012 Stephen Coan, the owner of Ferret Hollow Gardens, has been coordinating the annual garden tour infusing the idea of environmentally green gardens that are both enjoyable and sustainable in the hopes of spreading the seeds for the creation of backyard wildlife habitats.  

Tours of Ferret Hollow Gardens throughout the year are available by appointment only.  Please contact us to arrange a visit or consultation. 

Stephen Coan 
Ferret Hollow Gardens
131 Lawnside Avenue
Collingswood, NJ 08108
267.251.5855

By Appointment Only.

2018 GARDEN TOUR

Sunday, May 20, 2018 - 11am till 5pm

It's that time of the year again for Ferret Hollow's Annual Garden Tour, an NWF and Xerces Society Certified Wildlife Habitat Garden.  The birds are chirpin. The fish, Koi, are swimmin, the chipmunks are just havin a good ol' time, and the plants are a growin.  Yup that's right, it's spring-time and time for the Garden Tour.  It is always a lot of fun to meet all of the people that come through the garden and a nice way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Come see the gardens in full swing and learn what a Certified Wildlife Habitat Garden is and how to provide Habitat for Pollinators.  There will be a few surprises in the garden.   I'll have a lot of information for interested people/gardeners so just ask.  Keep your eye out for the Queen Chipmunk of Ferret Hollow - Emma - who lives behind the waterfall and for the others, Stella, Mina, Sita, and Lena.  Most of them have been eating out of my hands for many years.

Ferret Hollow Gardens is the showcase garden for the Collingswood, NJ Community Wildlife Habitat Project.  The entire town is working towards acquiring the designation of a Certified Community Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.  As of January 2018 there are only 105 communities throughout the entire United States that have achieved the designation.  Stephen Coan is the team leader for the project driving the project forward wth the help of the rest of the team along with the Collingsood Green Team.  Other nearby habitat gardens will be on tour that day throughout the town.  

The Garden Tour is on Sunday, May 20, 2018, 12 noon till 5:00 pm. 

Call or email me if you should have any questions.  

Stop on by and mention that you read about the tour on my website.

Private Tours are available throughout the year by appointment only.  

Ferret Hollow Gardens
131 Lawnside Avenue
Collingswood, NJ  08108
267.251.5855

A Certified Wildlife Habitat Garden and Pollinator Habitat Garden

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