New garden ceremony at Union Parish Library

The Union Parish Library recently cut the red ribbon on an interesting new project: an educational flowerbed! The Flowertale Garden: The Story of Louisiana Native Trees & Grasses was funded in part by Claiborne Electric Operation Round-Up as an interpretative educational garden about native plants. Stephanie Herrmann, Library Director commented, “When we needed to replace dying landscape plants, we decided to turn an otherwise backdrop flower beds into something that tells a story!” Michelle Bryan, Master Gardener and Library Staff served as the designer of the project. It was her “seed” idea that has now grown into a library of plant biographies. The Flowertale Garden features 16 different native to Louisiana plants and tells their unique story of why they are important to ecology, culture, and history. Bryan adds, “Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. These important plant species provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that serve as food for native butterflies, insects, birds and other animals.” The Flowertale Garden tells the story for instance of Horsetail Reed. In addition to being used by Native Americans as a scouring pad, it also was believed to be alive in the period of time the dinosaurs lived. So basically it is a living fossil! Stories like this one can be read on signage at the exhibit or by clicking on a qr code for a pdf of all the stories. Herrmann continues, “We also added a fun Toddler Trail where toddlers weave through stepping stones passing plants named after animals and referencing children’s books.” The library partnered with UPHS students with U-ACT to create a pollinator garden too with bird feeders and soon to come a bee hotel! Both Herrmann and Bryan believe that the library grounds emphasize what the library itself means: curiosity and imagination! “In our backyard space called The Enchanted Forest we now have a community garden of vegetables too so that our guests can watch plants grow and even harvest the plants too!” Right now in fact, pepper are ready to be picked! Figs are coming soon too. The library plans to continue to host programs related to gardening including one soon on making Mayhaw jelly. Herrmann concludes, “We have also been so excited to partner with the volunteer led group Union Parish Plant Swap who share plants with each other under the library awning! Kudos to volunteer Kimberely Dean who had really taken her passion for gardening and inspiring others!” The final piece of the library garden story is seeds! Each Spring the library gives out over 1,000 packets of seeds for families to start gardens. Not just to plant but to collect the seeds and replant again effectively starting their own seed library from home! From seed to plants to flowers to trees…the library is indeed growing! Growing interest. Cultivating curiosity. Harvesting information and creating a community that values our role in stewardship of our natural resources. And yes, they have books on all this too and much more.

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