From the Desk of Director Isidor Ruderfer

Greetings, and thank you for welcoming me into the extended family of the St. George Village Botanical Garden! I am honored that the Board of Directors has added me to their team of wonderful people who are all working so hard to nurture and cultivate this incredibly special place. I am inspired by the dedication and commitment of all the Garden’s volunteers, members, and donors. Thank you! There would be no Garden without you.

My family and I have just moved to St. Croix from southeast Georgia, where my wife and I were teaching at the College of Coastal Georgia. There, we also lived on something called an island (St. Simons), but that island has a bridge that connects it to the mainland. When hurricanes grind their way up through Florida and the winds begin to howl over the salt marshes, the bridge to the mainland closes, and St. Simons becomes a real island again. Here, there is no forgetting that this is a real island: from hilltops and beaches and boardwalks, it is easy to see the boundaries of this green jewel floating in a vast expanse of blue. That same expanse of blue makes summers in St Croix cooler than summers in Georgia, even though Georgia is almost twice as far from the equator. I hadn’t expected that, and I didn’t expect to discover how much less rain St. Croix gets than St. Simons (roughly 14 fewer inches, annually,…and roughly 20 fewer inches than Miami!). This brings to mind the old (and somewhat terrifying) saying: “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.”

With that in mind, I knew that one of the first missions in my new job would be to get a handle on a critical aspect of the Garden’s life-support system: the cisterns, the pumps, the pipes, and valves. Although I still have a long ways to go, I am happy to report that I have learned a tremendous amount in these first weeks. Just a few days ago, I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I diagnosed and (temporarily) fixed a pump-related problem in the Bodine Visitors’ Center…all thanks to some great training from the plumber who worked on the pump in the Great Hall. 

I imagine that, some day soon, the Garden could serve as a showcase for the latest and greatest in water-conserving irrigation equipment. Before then, though, we will have a composting system in place, allowing us to increase the water-holding capacity of the soil where moisture is most needed.

In the meantime, we have many plants that do just fine during dry seasons and droughts thanks to their various water-conserving adaptations: our cacti and other succulents. We are lucky to have an active Orchid Society doing wonderful work in the Garden. What we don’t have, as far as I can tell, is a group dedicated to nurturing and promoting our fascinating spiny and thick-skinned residents. I encourage any and all friends of cacti and succulents to help us show off their wonders.

Again, thank you for everything you do to help the garden. Until next month –


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