Saturday, May 20, 2017

Admiring Trees

This week has been peak bloom for mid-Ohio's native Black Locust trees.  Their Latin name  Robinia pseudoacacia is a reflection of its Acacia-like flowers. You need to look no further than Ohio's highways and byways to find their white blossoms standing out like a beacon. The extra inches of rain we had this winter/spring must have super-sized their fragrant flowers. 

Two landscape specimens near Chesterville, Ohio.
 Any landscaper or nurseryman would be likely to snuff and dismiss this native tree with a "too weedy, too thorny." However, I am noticing the spectacular beauty of specimen trees from long-ago landscapes.  I never realized Black Locust could become such a sizable tree.  Each of these two are about five feet in circumference, and the older trunks are thornless.

The Acacia like flowers of Black Locust.
These flowers are the real selling point.  Giant pea-like blossoms waft an incredible fragrance across the country-side.  Bee keepers know that Black Locust is favorite for their striped wards. I've been told the honey tastes like cotton candy.

In honor of pollinators, let's all plant a few of these bee trees.

This unexpected behemoth resides in Ontario, Ohio.
It did my heart good to find this venerable old locust on the edge of a landscaper's parking lot of a in Ontario, Ohio.  One can only hope the owner appreciates the size and age of this over-sized tree and continues to allow it to grace the property. It would take the outstretched arms of at least two adults to encircle this massive tree.

Who is this funny-looking caterpillar?
 Black locust are not just beneficial to bees.  They are also the host plant to the strange stripey caterpillars of the Silver-spotted Skipper.

Silver-spotted Skippers... doing what they do.
 The only Silver-spotted Skipper photo stored in my files was this mating pair.  Funny how we forget to photo document the most common butterflies and birds we see. This should be a lesson to us. Five  years ago when the Monarch butterflies were in the worst year of their decline, we all wished we had taken more photos of them when they were considered commonplace.

If you want to know what a person treasures, look at their photographs.  As for me, I am taking more photos of Black Locusts, bees and butterflies.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hiking KY. with Friends

 A recent trip to Kentucky celebrated friendship and a love of nature.  A large group of us invaded the Gen. Butler State Park (Ky.) for some hiking and lots of time with friends.  There were some nice wild flowers, but not the most pristine hiking.  We'll cover that later.
Jan Voelker, Connie Sauter, Jim Davidson and Susan Nash
A portion of my hiking buddies are noted here.  There was a much larger group, but these three were my cabin mates plus Jim Davidson.  Most of us have met through Jim Davidson and he has mentored us in plants, mushrooms, butterflies, dragonflies and all things moving around outdoors!

Connie moving in for the shot
 The Miami Mist, Phacelia purshii was in magnificent bloom at the Gen. Butler mansion's trail to the cemetery.  It was one of the few relatively level walks we made.  Much of the terrain and trails were steep and in none too good of repair.

Miami Mist, Phacelia pershii
 If you go to see wildflowers in Kentucky, I'd recommend using the Wildflowers of the Tennessee ans Ohio Valley (also good for Shawnee Park and Forest in Ohio.)  There are several types of Phacelia, but only two species have this lovey fringed edge on the flower.  Miami Mist is the larger and more colorful of the two species.

Juniper Hairstreak butterfly
A green butterfly is always a show stopper.  The only green butterfly in our part of the U.S. is the tiny Juniper Hairstreak.  Several were seen this day and chased about by excited naturalists!  This one was most cooperative as it nectared on Butterweed.  Butterweed is a native Senecio (Southern U.S.) that has been moving steadily north in the last 10 years.  Climate change, much?

Gemmed Satyr
The Gemmed Satyr may be more common that we think, as this tiny butterfly looks pretty non-descript until one sees the "gems". It too, is a show stopper if you manage to get the sunlight glinting off the gem spots. This butterfly has erratic "flippy" flight, commonly associated with satyrs. Take a moment to look closer at those little brown bugs!

Jim Davidson and Cheryl Harner
Parting shot: your blogger getting in trouble!  I can't help myself.  Jim Davidson is such a dear friend to so many who have learned from him and enjoyed the songs of yesteryear.  We have a tendency to walk and burst forth with old botanizing songs like:  "Oh, Dear, What Can the Madder be?"  Never underestimate the power fun has on learning capabilities.  It is far more fun and memorable to sing names than it is to argue over botanical nomenclature.  I wish everyone could have a mentor like Jim!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Gardening, Birding, Bees and Much More!!

If you haven't made your reservation yet, 

CALL TODAY!!   (740) 503-5108

The Licking County Master Gardeners put on a great program and I am thrilled to be able to return this year! They have ordered up some of the best nature-related speakers in Ohio.  This program is a FULL HOUSE of top-notch programs to help you enjoy and prepare for spring.

Please join us on Saturday, April 1.  

You love the vendor Market Place and the programs offered.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Big thoughts on big trees

The next couple  of months I am booked to do several programs on trees.  Some of the best naturalist in the state of Ohio and beyond have formed my opinion on trees.  That opinion has been further refined by numerous books and tree-tourism. 

Whether the program is focused on trees for birds, or legacy trees, or trees for your yard, the admiration for trees should be obvious.  Look to the side-bar on your right for more information about upcoming programs.

Richland Co. Ohio Big Tree Tour    2006
 Steve McKee started my interest in big trees with a tour he put together in Richland County.  One truism I have discovered by looking over 10 years or more of tree photos- people love to be photographed with a tree!  We should start a #BigTree hash tag just to share all these magnificent photos.

 If you are a birder, you might recognize the name on the cover of this book.  David Sibley wrote and illustrated this excellent guide to trees.  This is a broad, brush-strokes book.  It might not have the details a botanist would want, but I love the artistic impressions and discoveries David portrays of American trees.  It might give you some fresh perspectives, too.

Your blogger with a giant Eastern Hemlock in West Virginia.
 Trees make me happy.  Big trees make me downright giddy. Maybe if we spent more time with big trees we would have a better understanding of our brief and temporary lifespan on this earth.  This tree was around before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock; I hope is it still standing long after I am gone.  It was an honor to spend time in the shadow of its greatness for one afternoon.  It certainly had more impact on me, than I had on it.

If you, too, are interested in trees and would like to plant more habitat in your yard or local plot, please go to Riverside Nursery's excellent web-app and see which native trees grow in your Ohio county.  You will also want to factor in if your tree-site is wet or dry.  It is all right there, based on The Woody Plants of Ohio book by Dr. E. Lucy Braun.
Spring is coming!  Let's get out and plants some native Ohio trees.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Shreve Migration- a SENSATION!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 18 for a hometown bird-extravaganza !

Shreve Migration Senesation never fails to charm.  If you like food, fun, birds, field trips, speakers or just an awesome opportunity to see kids having a great time!  

This is the all weather (indoors or out) all day, all purpose event!  We never know if it will rain, snow, or be gloriously warm.  No matter, it is the most affordable fun you can have in March in Ohio!

I hope to see you there, Details below, or go their website to see the speaker schedule: