February 2021
Due to precautions related to Coronavirus (COVID-19), some programs and activities at Mercer Botanic Gardens may be curtailed, postponed, or canceled. Please contact Mercer before making plans.
Create Your Own Indoor Jungle
When the holiday cheer fades and it's time to take down the festive lights, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Gardens are dreary in the winter. Flowers and tropical plants shrivel, grass turns brown, and trees lose their vibrant fall foliage. With most gardening done for the season, many gardeners choose to head inside and wait until spring.

Fortunately, there are plenty of indoor plants to keep gardeners busy when temperatures drop. The experts at Mercer Botanic Gardens share some of their favorite houseplants and tips for maintaining them through winter.
Mercer's volunteer coordinator, Jamie Hartwell, loves growing Peperomia obtusifolia, also known as peperomia green or the American baby rubber plant. This plant requires little attention and is characterized by its thick, upright stems and glossy, oversized leaves.

"Even brown thumbs can grow peperomias," said Hartwell. "They are an easy-care, low-maintenance houseplant that thrives in medium to bright light conditions. They grow slowly but are foolproof."

Name That Flower 

This coastal plant native to Florida and other parts of the Caribbean region can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 7 through 11 as a large shrub or small tree up to 20 feet tall.

Gardeners will love its evergreen, semi-glossy leaves, unique bark, edible berries, sweet-smelling flowers, and hurricane-resistant foliage. The dark purple berries that appear in spring are a favorite food for birds.

It is low maintenance, pest resistant, and versatile, growing in acidic or alkaline sandy-loam soil in sun to partial shade.

It makes an excellent privacy hedge. When shaped into a tree, it creates a dramatic profile for nighttime lighting arrangements.

Meet the Ugliest Orchid in the World
Orchids are usually showy, vibrant, and beautiful, but Gastrodia agnicellus, newly named this year from a forest in Madagascar, is quite the opposite.

The nearly half-inch flowers of this orchid are small, brown, and some say ugly. After it’s pollinated, a stalk grows and forms fruit above the forest floor so that the dust-like seeds can disperse.

The orchid depends on fungi for nutrition and has no leaves or any other photosynthetic tissue. The new orchid is threatened, but with a small range occurring within an already protected national park, the plants are safe for now.

Photo Credit: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Tomatoes or Fruit Trees?
Try Some of Each!

With 31 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, Mercer's Online Tomato & Fruit Tree Sale is sure to offer something delicious to add to your menu this spring and summer.

A variety of tomato plants will be available online at themercersociety.square.site beginning Saturday, Feb. 13. Early shopping is available for TMS members from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Public shopping is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Mercer Society grows almost 5,000 tomato plants each year in its greenhouses using 100% organic growing methods. Volunteers start tomato seeds indoors under grow lights in the first week of January. With the proper care, these plants are strong and ready for planting by February.

Click here to read more and to find lists of tomato and fruit tree varieties.
Volunteers Needed For Spring Plant Sale
Do you miss viewing Mercer’s plant selections in person? Shoppers can browse hundreds of high-quality plants rarely found at local retail nurseries and “Mercer Grown” plants during The Mercer Society’s Spring Plant Sale on Friday, May 7, and Saturday, May 8.

To make this special event a reality, Mercer needs volunteers to fill more than 100 positions, ranging from sale set-up and take-down to hospitality.

Volunteers Pave
The Way
Congratulations to Mercer volunteer Rick Halaska! Halaska has volunteered more than 2,000 hours at Mercer since 2011, mainly working weekdays with greenhouse manager Jacob Martin.

In recognition of his achievement, a paver bearing Halaska's name was installed near the Mercer greenhouse.

He is one of only 20 volunteers to receive the honor. Over the past 45 years, volunteers have contributed more than 196,000 volunteer hours to Mercer.
Mercer's Master Builders
Upcoming Events
Story Time
Mondays, Feb. 1 and Feb. 15, at 10:30 a.m.

Parents and children are invited to enjoy story time in the natural setting of Mercer. Registration required. Ages 2-5.

Music in the Gardens
Wednesday, Feb. 3 and Feb. 17, at 10:30 a.m.

Children partner with their parents and experience rhythm and music in a natural outdoor setting. Registration required. Ages 2-5.

Garden Cruisin': Tour de 4
Friday, Feb. 5 and Feb. 19, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Experience the gardens during a leisurely, one-hour cart tour. There is a maximum of four people per tour. Participants must be 60 or older or 12 or older with transportation needs. Registration required.

Family Adventure Series: Sachet this Way!
Saturday, Feb. 6, from 10:30 a.m. to noon

Visit various plant stations in the garden to make a sachet of dried plant material. Registration required. All ages.

Women's Restorative Hike
Tuesdays, Feb. 9 and Feb. 23, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Women 18 and older can enjoy a beginner-friendly, volunteer-led hike through Mercer's gardens and forest. Registration required.

Family Adventure Series: Geocaching
Wednesday, Feb. 10, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Using your smartphone or other electronic devices, geocache among the winding garden trails at Mercer to find kid-friendly treasures.
Registration required. All ages.

Volunteer Orientation
Thursday, Feb. 11, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Discover a plethora of volunteer opportunities available at Mercer Botanic Gardens. This program is at Timber Lane Park, 2615 Ciderwood, just off Wood River Road. Ages 16 and older or 12-15 with parent or guardian.
Registration required.

Plant Folklore: Love & Devotion
Friday, Feb. 12, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Enjoy a crisp winter walk with Mercer staff to find plants steeped in folklore. Registration required. Ages 12 and older.

It's Yoga Time: Family Yoga in the Gardens
Saturday, Feb. 13, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

This beginner yoga class includes individual poses and family-partner poses led by registered yoga teacher Delyla Ovalle-Bowyer.
Registration required. All ages.

Online Tomato & Fruit Tree Sale
Saturday, Feb. 13, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Mercer Society's annual plant sale features a large variety of fruit trees and heirloom tomatoes. Shop this online-only sale at themercersociety.square.site. TMS member shopping opens at 8 a.m. 
Public shopping from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Keep Calm and Yoga in the Gardens
Saturday, Feb. 20, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Enjoy morning yoga at a leisurely pace in the gardens, making it ideal for beginners and intermediate participants. Registration required.
Ages18 and older.

Bird Survey
Thursday, Feb. 25, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

This 1.7-mile survey loop is suited for birders of all levels and experience. Registration is required. Ages 12 and older.

Tai Chi
Saturdays, Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Join volunteer John Spencer during this one-hour beginner Tai Chi class.
Ages 12 and older.

A Message From
Commissioner R. Jack Cagle
Thank you for reading this edition of Leaflet. I hope you learned something new about the services, activities, and programs Mercer offers to the community.

Please stay tuned for our next issue to learn more about Mercer events, activities, and news!