Laurel Branch – August 2013

Laurel Branch – August 2013

Week in the Wild wrap up

Another three weeks of Week in the Wild at Kalmia Gardens has elapsed, and what fun we had! We made some t-shirt designs using crayons that looked awesome, we explored the garden and hiked all of its trails, we looked for fish in the pond and spotted three really big grass-eating carp Ctenopharyngodon idella (the largest of which is named Scales), we learned how to identify poison ivy and other plants, Miss Holly brought some animals for us to see, and so much more I don’t have space to name everything. If you would like to attend camp next year, remember that open registration is usually the first Monday in May (May 1st 2014) and camp will be in July.

Rising 1st & 2nd Grade

Rising 4th & 5th Grade

Rising 5th & 6th Grade

Holly showing off Senaky, Kalmia’s yellow rat snake

Digging for hidden treasures from the natural world

T-shirt art

Holly’s Hedgehog

Holly’s African spurred tortoise

Holly’s Savannah Monitor


Passing of a friend

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that QBall, our Ball Python, has slithered into the next realm. He was a good snake: he was very well-tempered and he got along well with others. He only bit me twice, and I deserved it both times; I considered him to be a friend. Looking back on the 6 years I knew QBall, I can smile and be at ease knowing I did all I could do to provide a good home for him: fresh water in a clean water bowl, warm heat source, good UV bulb on a timer, and a fatty mouse every week.

One of my fondest memories happens to be one of the last times QBall and I did our “act.” It was during 4H20 camp, and we had a bunch of young people and several deacons from a country church. One of the deacons, a lady, was terribly afraid of snakes…more so than many of the children.  I explained that I, too, was once afraid of snakes, but overcame my fear by learning about them. Fear often comes from misunderstanding and lack of knowledge; the cure for this is education. After my talk she and some of the fearful children approached the “non business” end of QBall, and proceeded to pet him.  They were amazed at how “neat” he felt. It was a huge accomplishment for her and the children, and was a giant step forward in their understanding of the natural world…all because QBall was such a cool snake!

QBall will not be forgotten and he will continue to educate.  He will be preserved both in our memories and in the Jocelyn Education Center where others will be able to learn from him for years to come.

One giant step for man

One afternoon while Chris and Dan were chatting, Chris was shocked to learn that Dan was once afraid of snakes. Dan did not have ophidiophobia, but he was afraid of snakes. Chris naturally wondered what in the world happened because that is definitely NOT the case now, as Dan will chase and grab any snake he sees. Dan explained simply, “We fear what we do not know, and once I started studying snakes my fear of snakes slithered away.”  Now I (Dan) would like to share with you some easy steps to help you overcome a fear of snakes:

There are volumes of information on snakes. Lots of studies have been done on snakes and there is some neat information out there. For example, did you know most snakes can’t hiss? You can start overcoming your fear by reading books on these wonderful animals.

Go to a local zoo and get familiar with snakes. This should give you a feel for snakes up close, but not yet TOO close.

Try to locate someone in your who owns snakes; I can suggest a few. This is a great way for you to begin the process of overcoming your fears. A pet snake is usually more comfortable in the presence of humans and very easy to handle. Remember: snakes can get scared too.  Snakes get frightened when you make sudden movements, so just relax.

When you are ready and up to it, you should handle a snake. It does not have to be a deadly, wild snake; it can be a charming domesticated snake. Try handling a snake at a pet shop, or contact a friend who owns a snake. By this time you should have conquered most of your fears about snakes.

And finally, the proof is in the pudding. When Chris started at Kalmia he knew the importance of snakes in the ecosystem, but he wasn’t a huge fan of snakes. Look at the snake handler now!

Always properly identify snakes before handling

Chris holding a Red-bellied Snake Storeria occipitomaculata

Keeping our waterways clean

With all this wonderful rain we have been having lately, it’s really important that we think about stormwater runoff. What is stormwater runoff?  It occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater runoff from naturally soaking into the ground.

Why is stormwater runoff a problem?  Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water, or into a storm water system. Anything that enters a storm water system is discharged untreated into the water bodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water. Polluted stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people. Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats. Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When these algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can’t exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels. We can see this happening now along the Gulf Coast in an area called the Dead Zone.

Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often closing beaches. Litter – plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts – washed into water bodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds. Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other automotive fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water. Polluted stormwater often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.

What can YOU do?

Recycle or properly dispose of household products that contain chemicals, such as insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, and used motor oil and other auto fluids. Don’t pour them onto the ground or into storm drains.

Excess fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens wash off and pollute streams. Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts and always read the label. Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible.

Compost or mulch yard waste. Don’t leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains or streams. Cover piles of dirt or mulch being used in landscaping and don’t overwater your lawn. Consider using a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler. Remember your lawn only needs one inch of water a week.

If you have a septic system, remember that leaking and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can be picked up by stormwater and discharged into nearby water bodies. Pathogens can cause public health problems and environmental concerns. Inspect your system every 3 years and pump your tank as necessary (every 3 to 5 years).Don’t dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.

Washing your car and degreasing auto parts at home can send detergents and other contaminants through the storm sewer system. Dumping automotive fluids into storm drains has the same result as dumping the materials directly into a water body. It is recommended to use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater, or wash your car on your yard so the water infiltrates into the ground.  Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations.

Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters. When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.

Here are some tips for protecting our waterways in the landscape

Use Permeable Pavement—Traditional concrete and asphalt don’t allow water to soak into the ground. Instead these surfaces rely on storm drains to divert unwanted water. Permeable pavement systems allow rain and snowmelt to soak through, decreasing stormwater runoff.

Rain Barrels—You can collect rainwater from rooftops in mosquito-proof containers. The water can be used later on lawn or garden areas. Ask me for details on how to build one, and I’ll be happy to share.

Rain Gardens and Grassy Swales—Specially designed areas planted with native plants can provide natural places for rainwater to collect and soak into the ground. Rain from rooftop areas or paved areas can be diverted into these areas rather than into storm drains. Vegetated Filter Strips—Filter strips are areas of native grass or plants created along roadways or streams. They trap the pollutants stormwater picks up as it flows across driveways and streets.

More tips, fact sheets and information can be found at the Carolina Clear web page.


Kalmia Gardens to Host 5K Run/Walk on September 7, 2013

Kalmia Gardens of Coker College will host a 5K Run/Walk on September 7, 2013.  The race will start and finish at Kalmia Gardens, and all proceeds will help support the Gardens.  Dogs on leashes are welcome.

$25 Pre-registration deadline is September 3rd, 2013.  Online registration is available at or participants may mail a completed registration form, signed waiver and check payable to Kalmia Gardens  1624 W. Carolina Ave, Hartsville, SC 29550.  Shirts are provided for the first 150 pre-registered participants.  Race day registration fee is $30.

Race day information:  7:00 – 7:45 am at Kalmia Gardens, 1624 W. Carolina Ave., Hartsville, SC  29550.  Awards start at 9 am for: Overall Male/Female (1st), Age Groups: Male/Female (1st, 2nd, 3rd) 12 & under, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, & 70 and above.  Timing will be provided by Carolina Running Company.

For more information, please contact

Request for swim noodles

With summer coming to a close, there are swim noodles on sale at many different locations. We would like to ask if you happen to see any either on sale or left over from a pool party, please think about donating them to Kalmia Gardens. They make excellent “bumpers” for our annual Duck Cup Race, which will be Saturday April 5th 2014. We need lots and lots of noodles, so the more donations the better.  Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you all on April 5th for the Duck Cup Race and Earth Day Festival.

What’s blooming at Kalmia

Abelia (Abelia grandiflora)

Baptisia (Baptisia australis)

Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)

Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Cleyera (Ternstroemia japonica)

Coneflower, Purple (Echinacea purpurea)

Coralbean (Erythrina herbacea)

Daylily (Hemerocallis varieties)

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Elderberry (Sambucus americana)

Feverbark, Georgia (Pinckneya pubens)

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys)

Honeysuckle, Coral (Lonicera sempervirens)

Honeysuckle, Japanese (Lonicera japonica)

Hydrangea, Japanese Blue (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Hydrangea, Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Jasmine, Confederate (Tracelospermum jasminoides)

Lantana (Lantana species)

Lizard’s Tail (Saururus cernuus)

Magnolia, Southern (Magnolia grandiflora)

Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Queen Annes Lace (Daucus carota)

Rhododendron, Rosebay (Rhododendron maximum)

Rose, Butterfly (Rosa chinensis Mutabilis)

Rose, Knock Out (Rosa Knock Out)

Rose, Pink Knock Out (Rosa Pink Knock Out)

Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)

Thyme (Thymus species)

Ti-ti (Cyrilla racemosa)

Trumpet-vine (Campsis radicans)

Water-lily (Nymphaea odorata)

Wintergreen, Spotted (Chimaphila maculata)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yucca (Yucca filamentosa)

About the Author

Norah Wofford

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