First Steps With Irrigation

The Johnson Service Corps chose to contribute to the irrigation plan at the Piedmont Patch as their end-of-year Praxis Project, and held a workday onsite on June 15. The nine corps members dug a trench, laid pvc pipe, hooked up a repaired well, installed a new spigot, and built and stained a new well house. Many thanks to Episcopal Church of the Advocate member Zac Hackney for coordinating the project, which will facilitate watering the vegetable garden and other areas of the property. Do you lead a group that wants to do an environmentally sustainable project? We would love to hear from you!

Bluebirds and Brown-headed nuthatches rejoice!

Many thanks to our Piedmont Patch partners, the New Hope Audubon Society! On June 5, two volunteers from the New Hope Audubon Society installed that organization’s generous donation of ten bird boxes at the Piedmont Patch site at The Episcopal Church of the Advocate. Five bluebird boxes were installed on poles and five brown-headed nuthatch boxes were installed on pine trees. Because it is early in the growing season, it is possible that birds may create nests in the new boxes this year. But even if that doesn’t happen, all the local birds will learn the locations of the boxes and use them as shelter from winter weather before the new nesting season next spring.

Church of the Advocate Vicar Lisa Fischbeck listens as New Hope Audubon Society volunteers Tom and Vern explain the bird boxes before installation began.
New Hope Audubon Society volunteers install a pole for a bluebird box. The baffle lying on the ground fits around the pole to deter snakes.
A newly installed bluebird box awaits its first occupants. The New Hope Audubon Society volunteers deliberately installed the boxes at a height convenient for humans to peek at active nests. We were told that short, quiet, and infrequent views of nests and nestlings will not disrupt the bluebirds.
Volunteers from the New Hope Audubon Society install a brown-headed nuthatch box.
An installed brown-headed nuthatch box. These birds live and feed in pine forests, which is why the boxes were installed on pines. Because this bird species nests in February and March, when snakes are usually not active and feeding, these boxes do not require snake defenses.

New Native Plant Donations

The Piedmont Patch was fortunate to receive donations of native plants from two different sources in late May. Come visit the site to see the beauty and resilience of the native plants that are thriving there!


Barbara Driscoll, a member of the New Hope Audubon Society and native plant enthusiast, transplanted about 20 Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) onto the dam. Read about Barbara’s scheduled education event for the Piedmont Patch here.

Donations were also received from Plant Delights Nursery: Louisiana Irises were planted in a muddy edge of the pond, and many Golden Ragworts (Packera aurea) were planted on the earthen dam. 

Golden Ragwort

Many thanks to Barbara Driscoll, and to Lauri Lawson and Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery, for their support of the Piedmont Patch Collaborative.

Horticulture as Therapy

Amy Brightwood gave a fascinating talk on the therapeutic value of horticulture for a variety of client populations, especially including her work with elementary school-aged children. The event was the second quarterly educational event of the Piedmont Patch Collaborative; read about future events here.

After the talk, participants enjoyed a demonstration of potting herbs and wildflowers that are suitable for decks and patios, and that will attract pollinators throughout the growing season. Everyone was given a handful of free native wildflower plants to use at home.


Spring Planting Day

Over thirty volunteers gathered on Saturday, April 14 to plant over 1,000 native grasses and wildflowers. Attendees included local garden club members, NC Botanical Garden staff and volunteers, local native landscapers, faculty members from the environmental schools of Duke and UNC, and members of the Church of the Advocate. Signage was also installed around the pond, which identifies by photo and description the plants that are growing. The signs are currently featured in the “Field Guide” section of this website.