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Week Nine 2023 Newsletter

What's In...Bags?

by Betsy Burgeson

If you have walked through the main gate or walked by the Amp lately you may have noticed some silver shimmering baggies covering some of our Zinnias.  

The bags aren’t there simply to make passerby wonder; they are part of an experiment the Gardens Team is doing for the first time—trying our hand at being the birds and the bees..aka Pollinators! The covers prevent "accidental" pollination by bees, butterflies etc., which allows us to control which traits (flowers) are crossed through hand pollination.   

Most of the State Fair Zinnias that you see throughout the grounds were started in the Gardens shop in March from the seeds we collected from last year’s Zinnias.  

Zinnias are open pollinated which means they can cross pollinate with each other, sharing their traits and making new color and trait combinations.  When the 2023 State Fair Zinnias started blooming, we noticed a few varieties we hadn’t seen before and wondered whether we could pollinate them ourselves in order to retain those traits thereby “creating” our own State Fair hybrids.  

The photograph above by Jane Becker (yes, that Jane Becker!) shows a Zinnia with beautiful fuchsia to orange ombre coloring. We've also identified a cream-colored flower with yellow edges and a double bright coral. Those are three we are trying to self-fertilize to retain those color combinations.  

There are also a couple of other varieties that we will be crossing just to see what happens when they are mixed, including a large double orange variety with a yellow single that has trumpet shaped petals!  

Needless to say, we are VERY EXCITED to see what comes of our garden-nerd experiment—after all, isn’t half the fun of gardening waiting to see what comes up next year? 

Stay tuned and please look closely at next year's Zinnias!


Monday, August 21

4:15 PM Lake Talk: “The Devil’s Element: Phosphorous and a World Out of Balance” with Jennifer Francois and environmental journalist Dan Egan (joining via zoom). Zoom link below!

Location: Meet at Hurlbut Sanctuary

Tuesday, August 22

12:15 PM  BTG Brown Bag: “Trees of Chautauqua and How they are Impacted by Climate Change” with Erik Danielson

In collaboration with the CHQ Climate Change Initiative

Location: Smith Wilkes Hall - Lakeside

4:15 PM  Garden Walk with Horticulturist Joe McMaster

Location: Smith Wilkes Hall - Lakeside

Wednesday, August 23

8:00 AM  Wednesday Weeding

Please join the BTG to remove invasive plants! Learn more at the link above. 

Location: Meet at Arboretum Annex - Massey between Hawthorne and Emerson

12:30 - 2:30 PM  Open Garden: Shipman Gardens at Miller Cottage

Location: 24 Miller Park Note: The Wednesday Open Garden features historical tours led by Janine Obee at 12:30 and 1:30pm. Each tour lasts about 45 minutes and guests may pop in and out of the tours. Thursday's Open Garden is a less-formal Q&A with Chautauqua Institution Garden Team Members.

4:15 PM  Tree Walk with Naturalist Jack Gulvin

Location: Smith Wilkes Hall - Lakeside

5:30 PM  Stow Ferry Cocktail Cruise

Location: Meet at Stow Ferry Launch in Stow, NY

Note: this event is now SOLD OUT. If you are registered for it, look for an email later this week with more instructions

Thursday, August 24

8:00 AM  Bird Walk with Twan Leenders

Location: Smith Wilkes Hall

Bring binoculars if you have them, and please leave dogs at home!

12:30 - 2:30 PM  Open Garden: Shipman Gardens at Miller Cottage

Location: 24 Miller Park

Note: The Wednesday Open Garden features historical tours led by Janine Obee at 12:30 and 1:30pm. Each tour lasts about 45 minutes and guests may pop in and out of the tours. Thursday's Open Garden is a less-formal Q&A with Chautauqua Institution Garden Team Members.

Friday, August 25

9:00 AM  Nature Walk with Naturalist Jack Gulvin

Location: Smith Wilkes Hall - Lakeside

12:30 PM  Garden Walk with Betsy Burgeson, Supervisor of Gardens and Landscapes, CHQ

Location: Children’s School (corner of Pratt and Hurst - meet in rear garden) towards University Beach


Memorable Quotes from 2023 Chautauqua Stages

on Chautauqua: "Everywhere you look there is beauty—there is music and dancing...and honestly, I have not seen such a high ratio of flowers to humans in all my life!"

Katherine Smith at the Hall of Philosophy on July 21

Katherine Smith with Kate Bowler 

Recorded on Chautauqua Assembly (min. 6:07)

Audience Q: I heard wind turbines kill a lot of birds, is that true?

Nick Lund's A: The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that about 230,000 birds are killed each year by land-based wind turbines. That's a lot, and we need to continue to work to site and operate turbines in a way that protects birds. But that number is tiny compared to other bird killers.

For example, the Service estimates that around 600,000,000 birds are killed each year by accidentally flying into reflective glass. That means that for every bird killed by a wind turbine, more than 2,500 birds are killed by glass windows. Outdoor cats (2.5 billion/year), vehicle collisions (214 million/year), and poison (72 million/year), are among the other causes exponentially more dangerous than wind turbines. The most destructive force of all is climate change, which will have an incalculable impact on birds and all other living things around the world. We must reduce the amount of fossil fuels we burn, and wind and other renewable energies are our best hope. 

Nick Lund

BTG Brown Bag Lecture co-sponsored by the Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative

August 8 at Smith Wilkes Hall

(no recording, but quote verified by Nick Lund)


Climate Change

by Dennis McNair, PhD

I taught my Ecology students (and anybody else who would listen) about the Greenhouse Effect, atmospheric greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, etc.), and climate change for nearly 50 years.  Late in my career, I did some lobbying of Senators and Congresspersons in Washington, DC as a representative of the National Wildlife Federation.  I’ve been an environmental advocate since I was a youngster, and people have largely ignored me all those years. (“It’s just McNair blowing off steam again.  Let him rant.  Eventually he’ll pipe down.”)  Now that things have come to a crisis point, people are recognizing that those problems are real, and the consequences are grave.  

I have profound respect for people like Joel Dunn, President and CEO of the Chesapeake Conservancy, who spoke about the long game of getting the various parts of the Chesapeake Bay designated as a National Recreational Area.  Joel and his colleagues have persisted, in the face of being ignored or becoming the brunt of personal attacks, in clearly stating the long-term advantages of creating one overarching organization that can protect the largest estuary in North America, instead of dozens of tiny organizations trying to protect their small pieces of the same region.  Each of them has to knock on the same doors of philanthropists, face the unseeing “thousand mile stares” of dismissive state and federal officials, tell the same stories again and again, etc.  Joel knows that one umbrella group can represent them all and work more effectively and efficiently to garner support for such grand projects, before the crises loom so large as to be almost impossible to curtail.  My approach, regarding support of arts and environmental education, has been to say that “individual nonprofits can each sink individually, or join arms and float into the future.”  Joel suggested “constructing a huge quilt to replace the patches covered by individual organizations.”  His metaphor is probably a better one.  Quilts evoke thoughts of eventual warmth and shared comfort – pleasing thoughts – while mine suggest drowning and other unpleasant fates.  

But the underlying source of Joel’s success has been his persistence.   When I went to Washington, I was easily worn down by the uncaring, inattentive Senators and Congresspersons who told me they were “waiting for scientists to present useful answers” to them.  (I told them I had a PhD, I was “the scientist” they claimed to be waiting for, and I offered them carefully designed and reasonable answers – as though they really had questions).  I soon gave up on federal lobbying and went back to state, county, and city government officials, who would actually listen to me.  Joel knocked repeatedly, with bloody knuckles, on the doors of federal officials until he found those who would listen or wore down those who originally wouldn’t.  

The Chesapeake appears to be becoming a success story.  The people of Maui or Phoenix will tell us that we’ve lost the battle on Climate Change.  Perhaps I met Joel Dunn too late in my life and I should have gone back to Washington over and over, blood dripping from my fingers, to knock on the doors of federal officials.  Instead, I ask all of you to request of your powerful senators and representatives that they join arms and finally do something to float us into the future.  Request that they think of their states or congressional districts as patches in a huge quilt that might bring comfort – no more warmth, please! – to us all.  Thank you.

– Dennis McNair PhD


Outside the Gates

Lakescapes: Gardening with Native Plants

Long Point State Park on Lake Chautauqua (near Bemus Point)

Thursday, August 24

4:30 – 5:30 PM

Join Carol Markham from the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy for a discussion about the CWC's LakeScapes program, conserving the water and wildlife in your yard, and gardening with native plants. Meet at the tent at the Long Point State Park Beach. Directions here.


Butterflies and Brews

Friday, August 25

6 – 9 PM

An adults-only celebration of the Monarch Butterfly with food stations and brews, complimentary samples from Mazza Winery and 5&20 Spirits and Brewery, free-flying butterflies, mini Monarch programs and tagging. $30 through August 21, $35 after.


Monarch Butterfly Festival

Saturday, August 26

10 AM – 4 PM

Something magical happens when you get close to a real live butterfly! You and your young ones can hold a butterfly or caterpillar and inspect their eggs and chrysalises. Then take your picture with their human-sized cutouts, enjoy 3 C’s Food Truck and Pup Soda, check out vendors and the Blue Heron Gift Shop, view exhibits of live fish, reptiles, and amphibians, including the Hellbenders, and visit Cricket, an American Kestrel, and Soren, a Red-tailed Hawk.

Native Plant Sale

Chautauqua Marina

Saturday, August 26th

10am - 2pm

Proceeds benefit the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy & Chautauqua Lake

On Saturday, August 26th from 10am to 2pm, Chautauqua Marina and the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy will be co-hosting a native plant sale, with proceeds benefitting CWC and Chautauqua Lake! A variety of native plants will be available for purchase from local vendors. 

Admission is free. RSVP not required. The event will be held rain or shine at Chautauqua Marina, located at 104 West Lake Road in Mayville.

Guided educational lakeside buffer walks will also be offered, weather permitting.

Native Plant Walk

Panama Rocks

Sunday, August 27th

Join Layla Crabtree for a Native Plant Walk at Panama Rocks on Sunday, August 27th. Time TBD. More details to come.


Last Week in Photos

Heather Nolan-Caskey from the Chautauqua Lake Association showing off lake weed cutters - 3 crews, 42 miles, 13,000 acres - that's a lot of lake to mow!

Joe McMaster's Tuesday Garden Walk.

Wednesday's Shipman Open Garden with BTG Historian Janine Obee.

Jack Gulvin trying to stump the Wednesday Tree Walkers with a mystery twig (it was Witch Hazel!) Learn more about Witch Hazel by clicking here.

Betsy's Garden Walk through Odland Plaza.

Microplastics removed from Children's Beach and lower Miller Park at yesterday's Microplastic Cleanup Day.  Thanks to all who came out to help!  What a wonderful community event!

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