Last Month to Explore the Enchanted Woodland Trail
January 21, 2021
By Jana Pearce, Visitor Experience Manager
The Enchanted Woodland Trail is a great way to stay connected to nature during the winter months, take in the often overlooked details of the forest, and receive the physical and mental benefits of being active outdoors not to mention celebrating magical, nature-inspired art!
An additional piece of magic that happens behind the scenes is the community the exhibit builds, not only between CNC and the participants, but also between neighbors. Below you can read a story from one of this year’s fairy architects, and the surprising connection she made while preparing for the exhibit.
“I was so excited to build a Fairy House for the CNC Enchanted Woodland Trail. The idea was to build a three-piece structure that could be assembled and disassembled easily for transport and set-up. I found a wonderful old hollowed out apple tree stump for the base, a ficus tree for the middle and built a big roof with the intention of it being removable. Well, my fairy house ended up being as big as my imagination (which is pretty big) and all did not go as planned. The ficus tree got lodged in the apple tree stump and wouldn’t come out no matter how hard we tried. After trial and error we realized that we had to attach the roof and keep it attached. Now, instead of transporting three components of the fairy house in my mini-van, we had one very large structure that was too big for my vehicle.
We panicked…how were we going to get the fairy house to the CNC? I placed an ad on Nextdoor looking to hire someone to move the fairy house. Then the most wonderful thing happened. Thomas Johnson, a man I had never met before offered to bring his truck and trailer to pick up and deliver the fairy house to the CNC. This was not an easy task because I probably didn’t tell you how much the fairy house weighed…it weighed a lot! Thomas helped us muscle our fairy house to its home at the CNC for the next 13 weeks. We asked Thomas how much we owed us…and he said, “Nothing.” Thomas asked that we make a contribution to our favorite charity. We could not have done this without him, and all he asked was for us to pay it forward. We will because of your help!
Camp Olson – Making Mischief Happen is a personal family camp where grandparents, parents, and grandchildren enjoy creating fun projects, going on field trips, and most importantly making lifelong memories together.
For the last two years designing and building a fairy house or gnome home has been a topic of conversation as each winter approaches. It took Camp Olson so long to finally take the plunge because they thought they were not artists!
This year they resolved to start making plans and create the Camp Olson Enchanted Woodland Trail project!
Designing and building the Camp Olson fairy house and gnome home involved the entire family. The 4 kids decided to work on a “complex” of 3 homes and parents and grandparents helped along the way.
Through the construction phase there was plenty of chaos and mess, but there was also plenty of laughter and fun. Camp Olson wanted to let everyone know that it was well worth the effort to be a part of the Enchanted Woodland Trail and they can’t wait for you to find their houses in the woods!
November 20, 2020 Emma Schell, Scheduling Coordinator
Every winter, CNC invites the local fairies and gnomes to build their tiny houses, bungalows, cabins, and more along the forest trails. You can see their amazing creations in the Enchanted Woodland Trail exhibit along the wood trails throughout the winter.
When you come to visit these fairy homes, make sure to keep your eye out for another common fairy haunt: the Fairy Ring.
Fairy Rings appear differently depending on their age, but they are most easily identified as a ring of mushrooms.
In much of European folklore, Fairy Rings are said to be portals to the realm of the fairies. If you step inside one, you might get a glimpse of this magical world – but there’s a catch. Many people believed that if you stepped inside a ring, you would be entranced by the fairies’ magic and never return from Fairyland.
Today, biology tells a different but no less interesting story about Fairy Rings.
When we hear the word “fungi,” most of us think of mushrooms, but the truth is that mushrooms are only one small part of a fungus. A mushroom’s job is to help a fungus reproduce, the same way a fruit helps a plant reproduce. They only grow in the perfect conditions – usually when the air is humid and the soil is moist. This is why you see so many mushrooms after a long period of rain, and so few during a hot, dry summer.
Mushrooms produce fungus spores, which are similar to the seeds of a plant, and disperse them into the air. When these spores land on the ground, they grow into a new fungus.
So what makes the mushrooms in a fairy ring grow in a circle?
Underneath the mushrooms and soil is the mycelium, a network of tiny “threads” that absorb nutrients from the soil. The mycelium makes up the majority of the fungus organism, and it is always present in the soil, even if there are no mushrooms.
The mycelium grows out in all directions from a central point, essentially creating a big circle of mycelium under the soil. As it grows, the mycelium excretes an enzyme that breaks down nutrients in the soil. This way, the mycelium can then absorb the nutrients.
After a short time, the nutrients in one area become depleted. New mycelium continues to grow outward, staying connected in a ring formation, while the old mycelium in the middle decomposes.
When the conditions are right, mushrooms sprout up from the remaining mycelium creating the iconic ring of mushrooms that is considered a Fairy Ring.
These structures that we once thought were made by fairies are actually the result of the hidden workings of the natural world. Fairy rings can be found in fields, forests, or even your back yard, but you have to make sure to slow down and look closely at the wonders around you.
The Enchanted Woodland Trails Special Exhibit runs from December 13, 2020 to February 28, 2021. The exhibit officially opens during the Enchanted Woodland Wonders Family Fun Day on December 13.
The Back to Nature Holiday Market has become a well known market in the Roswell area each holiday season. Typically there are over 40 vendors that feature handmade, natural, and/or eco-friendly products. Some vendors have been at the market every year and each year we have new vendors that bring new, unique products for shoppers.
This year the story of one vendor really seemed relevant. Had 2020 been a normal year she probably would not have created her new business, All in one Peace. Check out her story and then come see her repurposed wood items on December 5 at the Back to Nature Holiday Market.
Since the pandemic started, I have become an avid maker of wood items like trays, signs, and shelves, and have also begun repurposing items in a “trash to treasure” style.
When the “shutdowns” began in March, my son and I tackled many long overdue home projects, including cleaning out our garage. As we sorted through the workshop corner, we found our stash of inherited power tools, and began trying them out. Learning to use the miter saw, drill press, router, and sander was a perfect diversion from the uncertainty of the months ahead.
Creating with wood has been a way for me to deal with the stress and change that 2020 has brought. Cutting, sanding and painting wood has become a new passion of mine, and a way to find peace in this challenging and ever-changing time.
My friend and fellow crafter Nancy and I set up our first event booth two weeks ago, and are now very excited about the upcoming Back to Nature Market at CNC. We cannot keep up with all the ideas we have for using our stash of pallet wood, shutters, and other supplies. Reclaimed wood trees, miniature houses, wooden ornaments and centerpiece boxes, and repurposed books and shutters have been very popular as we have sold out and are creating more. We hope that our creations will bring joy and peace to the people who take them home as well!
The origin story of “Double Vision,” a joint exhibition that combines photography, painting, and nature
October 26, 2020 By Sherry Hardage, Roswell Fine Arts Alliance member
One morning I was plein air painting on a deck by one of the ponds when a photographer came up with a very long telephoto lens. We struck up a conversation when she said, “Oh, look at all those turtles on that log out there.” I’m looking where she’s pointing and all I see are a bunch of bumps on the long about the size of a Sweet Tart. “What turtles?” I ask. “Oh, here take a look,” and sure enough there were five of six enjoying the sunshine. Our conversation continued and she told me she was a member of GNPA [Georgia Nature Photographers Association] and I said I belonged to RFAA [Roswell Fine Arts Alliance]. Then, I had this aha moment. “Wouldn’t it be fun if the GNPA photographers took photos and the RFAA artists painted them and we had a joint show? Do you think our members would go for the idea?” She agreed to ask her group, I asked mine, and the rest, as they say, is history. That was six years ago, and the shows just get better and better. The two organizations have also exchanged guest speakers and continue to enjoy socializing together at the reception and on the grounds of CNC.
For the fifth year, Georgia Nature Photographers Association and Roswell Fine Arts Alliance team up to present “Double Vision”, a gallery hanging that combines photography and painting. Join Nature and Art lovers of all ages for this unique show. Beautiful shots by GNPA members are then interpreted by the talented artists of RFAA using a variety of media such as watercolor, oils, acrylics, pastels, and colored pencil. Works are available for purchase.
This event is in conjunction with the Atlanta Celebrates Photography festival.
Double Vision will be on exhibit at the Chattahoochee Nature Center until December 2. The CNC is open Monday – Saturday from 10AM – 5PM and Sunday from 12PM-5PM. Works are available for purchase.
Q: Now that the leaves are beginning to change, I’ve been thinking about the best spot to see the beautiful colors. I would like to avoid driving to the mountains. A friend mentioned canoe trips are a good alternative. Can you tell me about those at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell?
A: The Chattahoochee Nature Center is a private nonprofit, located on 127 acres, dedicated to environmental education, offering a wealth of outdoor education and activities, including the canoe trips.
Since the Nature Center has been located along the Chattahoochee River for more than 40 years, “We recognized the resource for our center as well as citizens of the area. Really the goal was to connect people to the river and there is no better way to do that than the canoe trips,” said Alicia Thompson , senior director of community programs.
The remaining canoe trips available through the end of their season:
– Fall Family Canoe Day: Last trip is Oct. 17
– Evening River: Last trip is Oct. 25
– Fall Colors: Nov. 1 through Nov. 15
– Private river trips: Available upon request
“Personally, I’m a big birding paddler, so … the evening in the fall is one of my favorites,” Evans said.
Each trip is led by a CNC naturalist and offers an introduction to the ecology of the Chattahoochee River, according to the center’s website.
“Our evening canoe trips are typically at sunset and especially at this time of year, our sunsets are spectacular,” she added.
Ticket information for the Nov. Fall Colors trips: Ages 6 – Adult; $35 general public/$30 CNC member (price per person). Advance registration required by the Thursday before each trip.
“It is always exciting to get people out on the water because it’s so easy to escape the bustle of being in Atlanta or the city suburbs, and just slow down on the water. We have a very nice scenic route. You don’t have to drive far,” Thompson said.
As the weather is about to cool down with the arrival of fall, everyone will be ready to spend more time outdoors. Having the opportunity to exercise outdoors is one of the best things you can do for yourself. A favorite among many yogis is taking your practice outdoors. While yoga studios are often a relaxing, zen environment, nothing can beat fresh air which is even more important at the current time. Are you ready to give outdoor yoga a try? Here are some of the ways that the outdoors benefits your practice:
Currently, there are so many ways to make meditation accessible whether you’re at work or about to go to bed. But if you are looking to take your meditation to the next level, you have to take it outdoors. Scientists have found that meditation helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body and being outdoors vs. in an urban setting helps to reduce these levels more. It also might help you stay focused if your mind tends to wander.
3. Gives you the chance to check out new places
For many of us, our house or apartment is located in urban settings and not always conveniently located near the beach, park, or nature center. Why not make a trip out of it? If you are looking into making it more of a getaway trip, there are many yoga retreats held locally or in popular destinations. In your community there are sure to be events by local yoga studios, such Plum Tree Yoga. However, if you are looking for something more low-key and close-by some of the best trips can be a day trip with family and friends, or even as alone time.
What has been your experience with outdoor yoga? Do you feel like it adds to your practice?
Pack your yoga mat and water bottle! Immerse yourself in nature at our outdoor yoga class hosted by Plum Tree Yoga Studios at the Ben Brady Lakeside Pavilion. Come breathe in the fresh air and listen to the soothing sounds of nature with occasional sound journeys done by Vibrational Sound Technician, Michael Burke. Two yoga blocks and one small blanket are recommended but not required for practice.
Another great offering at the Chattahoochee Nature Center to get outdoors and get your nature on!
By Rebekah Dolan, Visitor Services Associate August 24, 2020
I think my first experience of feeding birds was when I was a child growing up in New York City and my mother would take my siblings and I to the park on Saturdays to feed the seagulls. I remember being fascinated by how the gulls would ride the wind and hover above us. Some of my fondest memories of growing up were of observing pigeons in Central Park and it has become a tradition for me every time I go back home to visit. To this day I have a soft spot in my heart for gulls and pigeons.
I first started hanging a bird feeder in honor of my grandfather who always had a love of wild birds and had several feeders at his house in upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains. These days I live in an apartment in Sandy Springs and I hang about 5 different feeders on my apartment balcony and have been able to attract a wide variety of bird species to my home even in my semi-urban environment. It just goes to show you that you don’t have to have a house with a yard to begin feeding birds and enjoying the wonder of watching them arrive just outside your windows!
The best way to attract lots of different birds, is to offer a wide variety of different foods at your feeders. Different species prefer different snacks, so the more options you have, the more birds you will see. Some feeders I put out seasonally and some I keep up year-round. The type of feeder you choose is important as well as different birds have different preferred eating habits. Lots of birds will eat while perched, but others prefer to munch on the ground or on a platform. Here are some tips on common seed and food types to use and what birds you can attract with each type of food:
Sunflower Seeds – They come in two varieties – striped and black oil sunflower – and are a great all-around favorite. At my home feeders I have seen Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmice, both White-Breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatches, Eastern Towhees, and House Finches all eating my sunflower seeds. You can also buy sunflower seeds pre-shelled in case you don’t like sweeping up the shells off the floor or ground.
Safflower Seeds – these are another great favorite among Cardinals and Grosbeaks.
Nyjer or Thistle Seed – these seeds are great to attract Goldfinches, and depending on the time of year, you may also see Indigo Buntings and Pine Siskins enjoying it as well.
White Millet Seed – this seed is favored by Doves, Towhees, Juncos, and Cardinals. It is also a favorite with Cowbirds and House Sparrows, so if you prefer not to attract these birds, you might want to avoid this seed in your feeders.
Peanuts – popular with Blue Jays, Crows, Chickadees, Wrens, Tufted Titmice, and Woodpeckers.
Red Millet – this is one you actually want to avoid. Many companies use this as a filler in seed mixes, but most birds don’t like it.
Suet – this type of food is typically made from beef fat and usually has seeds mixed in. It is great to attract Woodpeckers and is also popular with Chickadees, Wrens, Nuthatches, and Blue Jays. At my feeders I have also seen Easter Bluebirds, Pine Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Brown Thrashers, and the occasional Mockingbird and Grey Catbird come to eat my suet. You can buy suet at the store or make your own at home. You can even make a vegetarian suet using peanut butter and vegetable shortening instead of beef fat.
Dried or Preserved Mealworms – these may look and smell pretty icky, but they are a huge favorite with Eastern Bluebirds. I also see Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmice, and the occasional Cardinal enjoy eating the worms.
On my apartment balcony I keep one seed feeder with a seed mix that includes both types of sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and peanuts. I also have a separate suet feeder, a feeder for the mealworms, and I also put out a Nyjer thistle seed feeder and Hummingbird feeder seasonally. Since I’m in an apartment, it also helps that I keep several potted plants on my balcony as well as a bird bath to help my small space seem more inviting. Doesn’t hurt that there are lots of trees near my building as well.
If you are feeding birds at your home, inevitably you will meet the bird-feeder’s most tenacious foe – the squirrel. Squirrels can empty your bird feed pretty quick and make it much harder for you to enjoy watching your feathery friends. Since I do not have a yard, I have opted for squirrel-proof feeders. There are a lot of options for “squirrel-proof” feeders out there, but the ones I have found most effective are those that close up when weight is put on them. If you have a yard, simply placing your feeder on a tall pole away from anything that a squirrel can climb on or jump from is an easy solution. You can also try coating your seed in Flaming Hot Squirrel Sauce. You’ll find your birds don’t mind the spicy-ness, but most squirrels really don’t like it. You can buy the sauce separately, or buy seed that is already coated in it. Just a warning to always wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after handling the squirrel sauce or it can be very irritating to eyes and skin. You definitely don’t want to use it to season your taco!
By Taylor Lamb, Horticulturist at CNC July 26, 2020
There is no better time than now to get outside and stretch your legs and your brain! In the horticulture department at the CNC, we pride ourselves on our knowledge of native plant species, and we thought it would be fun to challenge visitors of all ages to a friendly scavenger hunt!
Georgia is renowned for its vastly differing landscapes. From the sandy, dry terrain of The Coastal Plains to the cool, moist climate of The Blue Ridge Mountains, plant species across Georgia have adapted over time to fill every niche.
This variety produces absolutely stunning and unique specimens that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Each of our gardens across the CNC strives to emanate these unique habitats, and we would love it if you join us on this virtual tour throughout our property.
Plan your visit to CNC to explore the gardens and try to find as many species as you can! Some of the plants are not in top bloom so it will be even more of a challenge!
Cowboy Pants: Garden on your left as you exit the top of the Discovery Center
Rudbeckia maxima, Large Coneflower
Extremely tall flowers that can reach 8 feet in height! In the Fall these tall stalks need to be stabilized so they don’t fall in the way of the path.
Schizachyrium scoparium, Little Bluestem Grass
Little Blue-Stem is aptly named as its foliage has blue tints to it. This becomes more apparent as Autumn approaches.
Craft’s Memorial Garden: Garden on your right as you exit the top of the Discovery Center
Manfreda virginica, False Aloe
This aloe plant look-alike fools many! It has an aloe-like basal rosette and tall flowering stalks that can reach 5 feet.
This garden is home to many different species of milkweed – the host plant of the monarch butterfly. Monarch’s require these tall slender plants to reproduce.
Longleaf Pine Gardens: Gardens across the Brady Pavillion
Pinus palustris, Long-leaf Pine
These pines differ from the typical Loblolly Pine that we find around Atlanta with their long leaves and their distinctive growing habits. Immature adults will have one major shoot will stay in this form until they reach adulthood. Then they will branch off to look like a more standard pine.
Barbara’s Button Garden: Garden just below the Great Horned Owl Exhibit
Marshallia caespitosa, Barbara’s Button
Eccentric, low-growing perennial that forms white fluff ball blooms in early Summer.
Georgia’s Living Wetland: Garden past the Brady Pavilion as you walk the unpaved paths near the exit to the boardwalk.
Sarracenia sp, Pitcher Plant
This carnivorous plant is a perfect example of a species that has adapted to fill niches where most organisms would have trouble surviving. Pitcher plants thrive in highly acidic, nutrient-poor environments. When they feel an insect inside of their opening, they shut their hood trapping insects inside digesting/dissolving the prey slowly over time. We have many species in this garden including Purple Pitcher Plant, Yellow Pitcher Plant, and more.
We hope that you have enjoyed a virtual tour of the gardens found at the CNC. There are many other plants to explore in the gardens and we hope that you will plan your visit and take the time to experience the native gardens and all that they have to offer.
ROSWELL, Ga. – Reservations are required and masks are abundant, but aside from the obvious changes due to the coronavirus pandemic, staffers at the Chattahoochee Nature Center say their popular Butterfly Encounter will provide the same magical experience for visitors this year.
This year’s Butterfly Encounter opened last month will will continue daily through August 2nd, welcoming visitors into a butterfly-filled tent and allowing them to see the delicate winged creatures closer than ever before. If you’ve seen the Butterfly Encounter on Good Day Atlanta in the past, you know it results in some amazing pictures and videos — especially as the sun heats up the tent and wakes the flying insects. And this year, there will even be more space inside the enclosure — the Chattahoochee Nature Center is requiring visitors to buy tickets in advance and for a specific date and time, so that capacity inside the encounter will be reduced.
Meanwhile, throughout the Chattahoochee Nature Center, staffers say they’ve put separate entrances and exits in place, in order to reduce cross-traffic and to help visitors maintain social distance. Visitors should also know that all transactions will be credit card only — no cash accepted.
Hours for this year’s Butterfly Encounter are 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and Noon to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is included with General Admission, which costs $10 for adults, $7 for those 65 and older and students, and $6 for children ages three to 12. To buy tickets and make a reservation, click here.
Of course, after many years of enjoying the Butterfly Encounter, we wanted to spend a morning there again and get the information on this year’s changes. Click the video player in this article to check it out.