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Letter from Isidor – January 2022

Greetings Garden Members! It is hard to believe that it has been a month since the last newsletter and that we are coming up on the end of 2021. This has been an incredibly busy time during which the Garden has hosted many wonderful holiday-related events. For a brief period during one of these events (“Breakfast with Santa”), the Garden was graced by the simultaneous presence of one Grinch, two T-Rexes, and one jolly Santa, whose flight from the North Pole had almost been canceled. 

Between moving tables and chairs, pressure-washing, helping volunteers hang Christmas decorations, and guarding against surprise water loss by regularly logging cistern water-levels and pump pressure readings, I’ve been working hard with the help of Lucy Cabret to finish the redesign of the African Provision Garden. This important exhibit will celebrate the horticulture and food culture of the people who have shaped these lands for centuries. Be sure to look out for more information on the February opening of this garden. (This work was made possible by a grant received from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI), with funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.)

During the holiday season, the poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) near the Great Hall have come into their own: the modified leaves (bracts) surrounding their tiny flowers have turned bright red. Behind them, the bracts of a close relative, the “snow flake” or “white Christmas bush” (Euphorbia leucocephala) have all turned white. Topping off this seasonally-appropriate visual confection is a swarm of cream and white butterflies, landing, lapping up sugar water, and flitting away moments later. The huge numbers and light movements of these butterflies make the poinsettias look like they are part of a giant, outdoor snowglobe. Almost every time I walk past this part of the Garden, someone is trying to capture the scene with a video recording. Based on some internet sleuthing, I suspect that these butterflies are “Cuban Whites” (Ganyra menciae). I am no lepidopterist, though, so if any of you have a more accurate species identification, please let me know!

Thank you for everything you do to help the garden. Until next month – 

Isidor

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