Monday, July 27, 2015

Midwest Native Plant Conference 2015

Having recently returned home from the Midwest Native Plant Conference in Dayton, I am excited to share news of all the fun and festivities!

One of the many native plant sales booth and a few of the conference organizers,
L to R- Judy Ganance, Kathy McDonald and Teri Gilligan.
NATIVE PLANTS: Everyone wants native plants.  It used to be so difficult to find them and virtually impossible to find knowledgeable sales people. Now it is shop-til-you drop natives all at one location!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this event with numerous vendors and an incredible selection of native plants.

The Bergamo Center's ground are the perfect location for this event.

DAY FIELD TRIPS at Bergamo: Brother Don Geiger (center) has been a major player in the development of this ecologically sound environment.  The Bergamo grounds hold many acres of native plantings and wood lots. It is perfectly suited to field trips- both day and night.  This photo is from a day-time nature walk lend by arguably Ohio's best naturalist, Jim McCormac (far right), and aided by Brother Don.

John Magee speaks on water features- and some native plants.
SPEAKERS: There are so many wonderful speakers and topics to choose from. The keynotes were author Don Leopald on "Native Plants for Sustainable Landscapes," John Magee (Magee Design) on "Water in the Landscape," and Kenn Kaufman of the Kaufman Focus Guides on "Why Butterflies are Better than Birds."

The breakout sessions make it harder on attendees- you have to choose! I didn't get to attend all the programs I would have liked, but here is a shout out to the excellent program given by Hal Mann, Erika Galentin, Michelle Banker, Jason Larson, Carol Mundy, Judith Nastlly and especially to new comer Bethanny Majeski. Her program on mycorrhizal fungus was amazing!

Thanks also, to the many folks who stopped by for my "Urban Landscapes- Life in the City." It was wonderful to see so many friends in the audience and their kind words were greatly appreciated.

Evening sessions: Moths were covered  by Elisabeth Rothchild and night singing insects are the domain of Lisa Rainsong.  These women are powerful educators and and they are helping people understand in importance of our insect world.

Common Milkweed at night.
 NIGHT FIELD TRIPS: This incredible plant is working a double shift. I have a whole new respect for milkweed, and I am going to make more trips out to my garden at night to learn about my own pollinators.

Moths encircled for your viewing pleasure.
 I have circled the night fliers on the same milkweed photo.  This was an eye opening experience for me and I thank Elisabeth for encouraging us in the field.  This was very timely for me as my newest garden at home is specifically for night blooming plants and pollinators.

Kenn and Kim = Kaufman2
FRIENDS and co-conspirators:  Midwest Native Plant Conference is a wonderful place to connect and share time with friends and like minded conservationist.  They may not even know they are fellow conservationist yet.  But if you grow native plants, you are my kind of people!

It is always a special treat to be with friends like Kenn and Kim Kaufman, Hugh and Judy Rose, and Jim Davidson. It makes the whole event feel like a family reunion.

Cecropia caterpillars at the Flora-Quest booth.

ORGANIZERS: Thank you to all of the organizers for the excellent program they bring to Dayton, Ohio. Most of all, a special thank you goes out to organizers Kathy McDonald (speakers), Yvonne Cecile (field trips) and Karen Arnett (venders) for making it easy for me to attend, with my caterpillar buddies in tow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lakeside's Botanical Secret

If the cottages of Lakeside could talk, we might hear some intriguing stories.  After all, since the mid 1870's it has been a gathering place for families and the famous alike. You might be surprised to learn the exciting story which came to light during my recent visit to Lakeside.

Dewey Hollister, reknown plantsmen.
While attending the Gardening as Landscape Painting series, Dewey Hollister and I spent a good bit of our free time enjoying the gardens and grounds. We particularly savored the architecture and landscapes which incorporate a century's worth of designs.  We visited elaborately planned gardens and several of the most naturalistic remnants of plant communities on the Marblehead peninsula.
Hydrangea arborescens is the oldtime Lakeside garden favorite.
As we walked through town, Dewey noticed the cultivated hydrangeas which seemed to tell the story of Ohio's native plants and their appearance in our gardens. What could say "summer cottage" better than a foundation planting of hydrangeas?

These wild hydrangeas have rather small flower heads and bear more fertile flowers than showy sterile florets. Fertile flowers are the smaller pollen-loaded reproductive portions of the flower.  Today's hybrid hydrangeas boast larger showier flowers which are preferred by many gardeners, but do not provide pollen for our much need pollinators.

A progression of Hydrangeas often surrounded the older cottages.
Some early Wild Hydrangeas, Hydrangea arborescens probably sported a more uniform Hydrangea arborescens var. grandiflora which directly translated from the Latin means: Hydrangea of the woods with grand flowers.  This grandiflora genotype was later developed into the standard and completely sterile "Annabelle" Hydrangea we all know today.

The classic Hydrangeas arborecens is a staple in Lakeside landscapes. 
 Through the years, nurseries and gardeners quit growing the old standard as the much showier "Annabelle" Hydrangea became commonly available. The basic grandiflora form has been all but lost, until Dewey's realization that Lakesiders have shared and preserved this plant for over 100 years!

It takes very little imagination to see how neighbors might have split off a start of their cherished hydrangea to welcome friends and family as their cottages were built in our fair Chautauqua.  What could be more neighborly or Christian than to share your favorite low-maintenance plant?

Hydrangea arborescens var. grandiflora on the left, Hydrangea "Annabelle" on the right.
The difference between "Annabelle's" larger leaves and the showy, fully-sterile flower heads become more obvious with a little practice.  Soon you will notice many cottages with their original Hydrangea arborescens by the door and a nearby line of more recently added hydrangeas from the horticulture industry.

Test your botanical ability on your next Lakeside walk.  Try finding Ohio's missing heritage hydrangea which has been hidden in plain sight all along!  One has to admire the old-time Lakesiders for having the ability to preserve something special through love and friendships.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Landscape Gardening and Native Landscape Design

It is no secret that Lakeside on Lake Erie has one of the most beautiful lakefronts in Ohio, if not the entire United States. They have officially declared the one mile stretch of walking paths "Ohio's Most Beautiful Mile." Against the back drop of idyllic lake scenes and sailboats, lie the parks and the shoreline of landscape plantings. It is easy to understand why we love Lakeside and why artists and photographers are compelled to capture its beauty.

Lakeside's Beautiful Mile- Photo provided by Lakeside website.
It is no wonder people came from all across Ohio to the gardening symposium, Painting Ohio in Broad Brush Strokes.  Lakeside was the ideal location to study landscape design and the new movement toward a new Naturalism, as seen in Europe.

Dewey Hollister, Hope Taft and Guy Denny
The program kicked off with three people who have made real strides in adding native plants into the landscape at the Ohio Governors Heritage Garden.

Former Ohio First Lady Hope Taft came up with a marvelous idea to show case the best of Ohio's floristic bounty into sectional gardens at the Governor's residence.  She enlisted landscape designer Dewey Hollister and native plant expert Guy Denny to create a Heritage Garden.  It is open for tour- just tap on this link for details.  Hope is an amazing force for nature and still remains active in the development of the landscape gardens at the historic Ohio Governor's Residence.

Amanda Patton Garden designer from the United Kingdom
Lakeside, in conjunction with the Ohio Governors' Residence, hosted a tour which allowed Amanda Patton to travel with this special event.  Amanda gave four educational programs in all, entitled Towards a New Naturalism: All Gardening is Landscape Painting. She described the parallels between art and landscape design.  One should develop a landscape using the principles of good art design and the elements which guide those principles. Art based landscapes have balance and are pleasing to the eye.  The Fibonacci Sequence, the Golden Ratio and focal points matter. Artist Luca Pacioli said, "Without mathematics there is no art."

The second day of lectures focused on creating natural gardens and illustrated many examples of contemporary works in Europe.  It was interesting to see our prairie landscape being utilized in landscape design an ocean away. I highly recommend browsing Amanda's website  for more examples of this exciting trend

 Coral Hairstreak nectars on Butterfly-weed.
There are many benefits to this new naturalism and native plants in landscape.  Nature make us feel good.  Native plants are more sustainable and they sustain the fauna which we enjoy. They are environmentally beneficial and require less labor to maintain. 

Part of the event include field trips to natural areas like Lakeside Daisy preserve, Castalia's Prairie and Sheldon's Marsh.  These places are all wonderful examples of of Ohio's best Natural Areas and Preserves.

Lakeside boasts of many flowering hydrangeas.
During the course of our many walks we admired the landscapes and plants found within Lakeside. At one point,  Dewey Hollister had a realization about the lovely hydrangea species growing within the gated community, and perhaps unknowingly, how the good people of Lakeside have preserved them for prosperity.  We'll discuss these hydrangeas in a future blog. For now, let's just admire one of the many pollinators that was gathering sustenance at its fertile blooms.