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Help us count!


Birders at Lockerly during the 2015 GBBC

Lockerly Arboretum is participating in the Audubon Society Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) on Saturday, February 13th from 9:00-noon. Members of the Ocmulgee Audubon Society will join us to help beginner and experienced bird watchers compile a list that morning. Last year over 30 species of birds were identified in the Lockerly gardens, including the endangered Brown-headed Nuthatch.

Bird lists can be submitted using the eBird app. Making a list doesn’t take long- the minimum time is just 15 minutes! We’ll have a few pairs of binoculars to borrow if you don’t have any. Birding is a great activity for children and adults to do together. Children up to age 12 can also try our updated Lockerly Eco-Explorer nature scavenger hunt.

We’ll be located in the Education Building behind Rose Hill for the GBBC (the barn-like building). Come out and count birds, explore the gardens, and be part of an international birding event.

February Volunteers of the Month

Our Volunteers of the Month are youth groups from Flipper Chapel AME Church and Northridge Christian Church. Over 30 students and adults came out to the Arboretum for a service activity on IMG_1098Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Working together on a very cold day, they spent the morning in the wooded area of the Arboretum clearing debris.

In addition to providing a place to watch birds and wildlife, and enjoy shade-loving plants,the area also provides a location for teaching during field trips, Boys and Girls Club activities, and adult programs.

The Lockerly staff and Trustees are appreciative of the time and energy the Northridge Christian and Flipper Chapel youth spent improving the grounds. Please come out soon and enjoy the wooded area where they worked so hard.

Grants awarded to Lockerly
February 1, 2016

Kim Bonner, Tri-County EMC, left, Debbie Foster, Hort Director, center, Katherine Cummings, Exec. Director

Kim Bonner, Tri-County EMC, left, Debbie Foster, Hort Director, center, Katherine Cummings, Exec. Director, right

We finished the year with grant funding from the Grassmann Foundation and Tri-County EMC. The Grassmann Foundation funds are being used for improvements in the greenhouses and Woods Museum, and several teaching displays. The Tri-County EMC funds will be used for purchasing plants for the greenhouses.

If you are a Friend of Lockerly or donor to our programs, your support is vital to our efforts for securing funding. Demonstrating financial support from our community is an important part of grant applications.

If you aren’t currently a Friend of Lockerly, or if you’d like to make a donation, you can do that through our website. All donations are tax-deductible.

February Gardening Tips
Debbie Foster
Horticulture Director

Birds and butterflies can add color to your yard and garden in addition to your plants. If you are interested in attracting birds and butterflies to your yard, or learning more about birds in our area, come out to Lockerly on Saturday, February 13th from 9:00-noon and participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). We’re partnering with the Macon Audubon Society to count birds that morning in the Arboretum. Experienced and beginning birders had a good time looking and listening for birds, and looking at which plants and trees attracted different species. Last year we saw several endangered brown-headed nuthatches.

How can you create bird habitats in your yard? Birds have three basic requirements in life – food, water and cover. The types of birds in our area and their food requirements change seasonally.  In the spring, both migrant and resident birds feed on caterpillars and other insects present on new plant growth. During the late spring and summer, breeding birds continue to feed on insects but also eat fruits as they become available. Insects and spiders are especially important to young songbirds born in the spring and summer because these foods fill the bird’s protein and calcium needs for bone and tissue growth. As migrant birds fly south in the fall, they seek out fruits which are high in energy.

Winter residents, including cardinals, chickadees, juncos, robins, and sparrows, primarily eat fruits and seeds that persist on plants or on the ground.  Yellow-rumped warblers, also known as myrtle warblers, eat the fruits of wax myrtle in the winter.



When choosing plants for your yard, be sure to include early and late-fruiting varieties along with plants that produce seeds for late summer, fall and winter. Some soft fruiting trees and shrubs that offer food for birds from August to February are Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Passumhaw (Ilex decidua), Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), American holly (Ilex opaca), and Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Seed producing plants that offer food for birds in the fall and winter include Panicgrass (Panicum spp.), Sunflower (Helianthus spp.), Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), Aster, Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) and Bluestem grass (Andropogon spp.).

Hummingbirds help pollinate more than 160 native North American plants and are easily attracted to a backyard with a diversity of native plants. They build small nests of lichens and spider webs on the top of horizontal tree limbs 10 to 30 feet off of the ground. Ruby-throated hummingbirds feed on small insects and nectar.

Carolina jessamine

Carolina jessamine

To attract hummingbirds, include a variety of flowering plants that provide nectar throughout the warmer months (March to Frost). Ruby-throated hummingbirds prefer the nectar from bright, tubular flowers, such as crossvine, Carolina jessamine, and coral honeysuckle. Other hummingbird favorites are Buckeye, Azalea, Lyreleaf sage, Iris, Passionflower, Phlox, Mallow, Beardtongue (Penstemon), Liatris, Hardy Gloxinia, Bee Balm, Trumpet Vine, Cardinal Flower and Morning Glory.

If you have questions about plants, trees, and flowers that will attract birds and butterflies, or adding bird feeders to your yard, take advantage of the Great Backyard Bird Count event at Lockerly to ask questions. The Lockerly staff and birders will be glad to talk with you. Come join us on Saturday, February 13th from 9:00-noon in the Arboretum at 1534 Irwinton Road to help count.

GCSU Student Volunteers

January 19, 2016

We are fortunate to have a great working relationship with Dr. Harriett Whipple at GCSU. Her students provided Lockerly with over 200 hours of volunteer time last semester, and we are looking forward to having them again this semester. If you are a student in Dr. Whipple’s class, or a student at any of our local high schools or colleges, and want to spend some time outside working in the gardens this semester, please use this  Student Volunteers link to schedule your time.

We would be glad to work with other professors and teachers in our area if you want your students to volunteer at Lockerly. Please contact Katherine Cummings at 478.452.2112 or email She’ll help you work out the details so your students can be an active part of our volunteer crew.

January Garden Tips

Debbie Foster
Horticulture Director


Holly berries

The cold, dark, rainy days of winter can bring on the blues now that our loved ones have gone home and the gifts have all been opened. Even in the winter our gardens can still bring us joy. Hollies can brighten a winter landscape with fabulous foliage and beautiful berries. They come in many shapes and sizes and the berries will attract birds to your garden. When you buy a holly, ask if it needs a pollinating mate to produce berries. The female has berries but needs a male for pollination. Hollies should be planted between November and March. Hollies like an acidic soil and benefit from yearly fertilization that shoul be done in the early spring. The American holly, Chinese holly, Foster’s holly and Yaupon holly are among the most common producers of red berries.

Other trees and shrubs with red berries are nandina, pyracantha, hawthorn, chokeberry and certain viburnums. Two hawthorns noted for their excellent fruit displays are the Washington hawthorn and Winter King hawthorn. The Chindo viburnum and Nandina have bright red fruit in large clusters. Chokeberry and Winterberry are both deciduous native shrubs with red berries. Pyracantha has orange-red berries that persist into winter.

Camellias are another way to enjoy the garden in winter. The blooms that catch our eye in the fall and early winter come from Camellia sasanqua, followed by those of Camellia japonica in winter and early spring. Camellias are not the only show in town.



Two other plants are particularly note-worthy because of their winter blooms and delightful fragrance. Japanese Flowering Apricot is a winter flowering tree that fills the air with fragrant flowers from December through March. They are an ideal size for small gardens because they reach 12 to 25 feet, and prefer to be grown in full sun to part shade. The paperbush plant (Edgeworthia) provides superb winter interest and fragrance as well. The individual florets are yellow and small, but come together to make a 2 inch cluster that is quite beautiful. The flowers begin to open in January and last until early April. Edgeworthia thrives in partial shade and reaches 6 feet high and wide. In spring, after the blooms are gone, it has bluish green foliage that turns yellow in the fall.

After the holidays, poinsettias are often neglected and forgotten. Plant breeders have introduced many new, longer lasting cultivars making it possible for a properly cared for poinsettia to remain beautiful in the home for two to three months. Since poinsettias are tropical plants, temperatures below 50°F will cause chilling injury. Chilling injury causes the bracts to have a blue or white discoloration and possibly result in leaf drop. Water the plants so that the soil is slightly wet, but not soggy.  Poinsettias do not like “wet feet”. If the pot is covered with decorative foil, remember to punch a few drainage holes in the bottom.  Pour off any water which collects in the saucer. Poinsettias cannot tolerate drying out, which can cause premature leaf drop. 

If the plant has been in your home for over 30 days, a half strength fertilizer solution should be applied monthly. The optimal daytime temperature for maintaining poinsettia quality is 70° to 75°F. Avoid temperatures above 75°F because this will cause premature bract fading and leaf drop. Also avoid placing the plants in cold, drafty locations, by heating vents, or on top of appliances. Place the plant in a well-lit area of the house. Plants can be placed in direct sunlight, but a sunny location increases the water demands of the plant.

If you plan to keep a poinsettia plant, care for it as you would any houseplant. After the last chance of frost has past, cut back the stems to 4 inches to promote new growth. Repot the plant in a slightly larger container.  Initially place the plant outdoors in a semi-sunny location for 2 weeks so it can become acclimated to the higher light conditions before moving it into full sun. Fertilize the plant with a water soluble fertilizer such as 20-10-20 every 2 weeks.  Move the plant indoors before the weather turns cool in the fall (night temperatures below 60°F).

Long nights (short days) promotes flowering of poinsettias.  Starting the last week of September, provide the plant with at least 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night.  Exposing the plant to any light during the night time darkness period will cause a delay in flowering.  Be certain, however to place the plant in a sunny location during the day.  The plants should bloom after 9 to 11 weeks of the long night treatment.

If you’re tired of being cooped up indoors this winter and you don’t have interesting berries or blooms to look at in your own yard and garden, come out to Lockerly Arboretum. Lockerly has a large collection of Camellias to enjoy. We also have a wide variety of hollies and other broadleaf evergreens throughout the Arboretum. Lockerly’s pinetum features an extensive collection of blue, green and gold conifers for year round color and texture. Our main path in the Arboretum is about a mile long, with addition shorter distance pathways, and trails in the wooded areas. Come take a walk and see what is colorful in the gardens. If you have questions or need more information please contact Debbie Foster at 478-452-2112 or email


Buy groceries, support Lockerly
If you shop at Kroger and have a Kroger card, your trip to pick up groceries can benefit Lockerly Krogerprograms every time you use your Kroger card. Please sign into your Kroger account and choose Lockerly as your Community Rewards recipient. Thank you for supporting Lockerly when you buy groceries.