Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Re-thinking your lawn

 Today I had a marvelous time with the Ohio Association of Garden Clubs at their annual meeting, which was held at Mohican State Park Lodge. They asked for a program on attracting  critters into one's yard with native plants.  That happens to be my favorite topic!

 The program ended up entitled Native Plants Add Drama.  Believe me, they do!  I can hang out all day taking pictures and following the birds, butterflies and mammalian wildlife around in my yard.  It is an ongoing circus, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

This saying from "The Wild Ones" tells the tale best.  IF you don't have action in your yard, you need to re-think your plants and your chemical usage. One of my most requested programs is Butterflies as Bioindicators.  If your yard is healthy and chemical free you should be seeing butterflies.

Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor philenor
 The latest hatch in my yard was Pipevine Swallowtails. But before one can have these lovely insects, you must have their host plant. I believe my pipevine is Aristolochia tomentosaGood thing I planted one several years ago and it now festoons the side of my barn.

Prickly-ash, Zanthoxylum americanum in seed
 Another unusual plant on my property is the Prickly-ash.  It occurs naturally along the edge of my woodlot, and is the host plant for Giant Swallowtails.  Imagine my surprise when I realized there was already a well established population right in my own yard!

Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphones
These seven inch beauties have two broods each year.  The early spring brood loves to nectar on my Azalea plants, and the second brood heads for the Purple Coneflowers. I also had a Giant nectaring on a Common Milkweed a week or so ago.  It is important to cultivate milkweed for Monarchs, but other species of butterflies and bees will use milkweed too.  It is a staple in my home's habitat and vital to Monarch conservation.

Thursday Aug. 21th at 7:00 pm I will be previewing a program Midwestern Monarchs at the Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield.  I will also give this program for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's Conservation Symposium- The Point of No Return- on Sept. 5th.  They have a stellar line up for that event, and I encourage you to go the notice in the side panel of this blog, and follow the link to register.  There is a lot of information on Monarchs that has slipped past the general public and I hope you will join me for one of these programs.