The Virginia Robinson Gardens is Getting its Ducks in a Row

Photo by Joshua Johnston

Updates on the Ducks and Their New Home in the Wildlife Pond

Congratulations to all who have assisted in the creation of the Virginia Robinson Gardens’ “Wildlife Habitat,” conceived and designed by Superintendent Timothy Lindsay. The Gardens have recently been honored with the designation by the National Wildlife Federation as an official “Certified Wildlife Habitat Site. This certifies that Robinson Gardens will provide a home for all the wild creatures that make our lives whole!

The Gardens’ new addition will bring all of us, both young and old, years of enjoyment and educational opportunities.

At this past September’s Rick’s Café Américain Gala at Robinson Gardens honoring Dr. Andrew Klein and past Friends President Julia Klein, funds were raised to create this wonderful new “Wildlife Habitat.” This project includes the Children’s Wildlife Pond in the King Palm Forest complete with a darling two-story duck house floating on its raft in the pond. Our generous and distinguished patron Dorothy Kamins also collaborated with Tim on the “ins” and “outs” of building the pond. Julia Klein did a lovely watercolor rendition of the Pond with ducks.

Board member Jeanne Anderson had the wonderful idea to add the duck house. This stylish tiny house on a raft also provides the ducks with protection from predators.

Photo by Joshua Johnston

I know Virginia would have loved it. It would have reminded her of when she and Harry spent a month on a houseboat in Kashmir in 1912.

In addition, Virginia and Harry adored all sorts of animals and birds. She even had a tortoise named George who would come and go as he liked.

Perhaps an apocryphal story, but it was said that Harry and Virginia were accused of allowing their animals to have too much freedom. Eventually, they were said to have had to restrict the monkey’s freedom when he frightened the neighbors by looking into their windows at night.

As though they know Virginia would approve, every year a pair of ducks fly into the Gardens on their migration route. They spend a few days resting and amusing the visitors by swimming in the pool. Perhaps now, they too will want to take advantage of a dip in the new pond and a few nights checked into the Little House on a Raft.

The Virginia Robinson Gardens’ Wildlife Environment will provide a wonderful addition to the complexity of this historic property. In addition to a host of added teaching benefits concerning the aquatic environment, the Gardens will provide the opportunity to teach about those who share the pond — our ducks. During the day, they can float around and do what ducks do; then at night, they can sleep in their trendy Tiny House on a Raft, located out of harm’s way from roaming coyote and other predators.

When the weather warms up, the ducklings will arrive. The generous patrons who gave donations at the Gala named the future ducks. The selected names for the ducks are Donald, Suzy Q, Miracle Mike, Wise Quacker, Tubs, and Gogo. We will let you know when they arrive.

A postscript to the story:

The ducks at the Virginia Robinson Gardens reminded me of when I lived in Chicago and had ducklings born, grow up on, and finally fly away from my deck.

Years ago, when I lived in Chicago just north of North Avenue on Halsted, my top floor was an open deck with flower beds around it. It also had the advantage of being one story above any building nearby, giving it an element of privacy in the middle of the city. One day, my sister who was visiting, amusingly exclaimed that a duck was “feathering her nest.” Indeed, the duck built her nest in one of my flower beds. And, after she completed the days-long process of laying the eggs, she sat…and sat…and sat. Finally, I was convinced I had killed them and was reduced to tears when suddenly the baby ducks started to pop out around her, days after their due date because evidently, they needed to feather-out before they were ready for their first public appearance. We got them their own swimming pool with a little ramp to facilitate their ability to get in and out of their pool. I had a marvelous time watching them grow up. Those ducks provided us with a summer of entertainment. Finally, as the fall was starting to get serious, the ducks flew away. And this is why I know that the ducks and our new aquatic environment will amuse and educate those who have the chance to come to the Virginia Robinson Gardens and experience nature at its best.

Post by Marcella Ruble
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member and VRG Historian

2 Responses

  1. Stacy Klines
    | Reply

    Beautifully written, Marcella! And I love your Chicago “duck” story…. I haven’t heard it before, although I do have a picture of you dressed as one ?

    Quack Quack,

  2. Julia klein
    | Reply

    What a wonderful article. The entire area below the palm trees has been transformed, far exceeding my simple rendering of the new duck pond! I look forward to the arrival of our feathered friends!

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