Thirty year old perennial geranium flowering today. Drought proof. Deer proof. Full sun. Long lived. Spectacularly colorful in a low maintenance kind of way. We never mulch this rock garden- the plants mulch it with their bodies. Mulching is a PAIN so if you can get plants to do it for you you are ahead of the game.
Amsonia (NOT Ansonia!) hubrectii performing it’s less spectacular blossoming in advance of flowing stalks and brilliant fall foliage. Deer proof. Long lived. Uncommon.
Generally I do not like it when plants merge together in an orgy of messy unkempt foliage but I walked by this mess and saw beauty, as accidental as it was. It made me happy. Those plants are like friends, having been planted by me in that god forsaken rock garden so people wouldn’t back into the telephone pole about thirty years ago
Thirty year old weeping larch I planted to cascade over the boulders. It’s only three feet tall, and is soft and lovable. I think it’s best planted atop a wall or slope so it can cascade.
Heart-shaped foliage of weeping redbud shining yesterday. Insect and disease proof.
A peony I planted with my kid in 2012 returning yearly with scalding-to-the-eyes color by our front door.
Unknown moth resting upon an Asclepias tuberosa about to flower. Monarch butterfly larvae munch on this plant to feed and get toxins that make them inedible to birds. Somehow birds know this- one of mother nature’s mysteries. How do birds know not to eat monarch butterflies?
Dwarf pink Veronica flowering nicely after a deluge last night.
Plain old kousa dogwood flowering this am. Not my favorite tree but it sure looks great today.
Beyond being stunningly, spectacularly beautiful, foxglove is a study in morphological complexity. Dazzlingly psychotic spots mesmerize humans who dare to stare up into the trumpet.
Foxglove took how many millions of years perfecting this flower to attract who? What is the reward to the insect who struggles against gravity to get up into the funnel? What is the function of the spots? Do the spots give the pollinator some sort of dizzying beer-buzz? Pollen exchange occurs on the ceiling of the tunnel, so it must be a fuzzy/hairy backed insect who flits from blossom to blossom with precious cargo stuck to its shoulder blades- maybe the unsung hero of the insect world, the maligned bumble bee, subspecies of which are starting to go extinct because of habitat loss and environmental pollution. Who knows, and its too much trouble to investigate pollinators today.
Native white dogwood foliage happy as hell being at our tree nursery. Beneficial insect and bird attracting tree also delights humans with multi-season color and interest.
Brand new clematis cultivars have really different and desirable qualities.
Flowers of the glossy Pepperidge tree 'Green Gables' getting ready to have a pollination party with native pollinators. After pollination, the ovaries develop into an extremely high energy food source for south-bound migratory birds. The tree turns color really early in the fall to advertise to those birds that there is a tree chock full of nutrition just waiting for them.
Yellow foliage of a redbud tree backlit by the setting sun yesterday.
Rare form of Japanese maple glowing yesterday after I moved it to the entrance of the nursery.
Columnar copper beech has almost-black foliage in the spring. A very rare tree indeed.
Rare/shiny foliage and flowers of the red buckeye/horse chestnut with bottlebrush buckeye behind it. This family is way underused in our landscaping. Deer proof. Native. Cool.
Nature is sensitive, mysterious, and intelligent. Be very careful about the chemicals you dump out on your yard because there might be consequences that happen in the environment that you never ever know about. If you knew what happens to other organisms that die from your chemicals, you wouldn't like it, and those killed certainly didn’t appreciate it. This picture taken by Mary Sevino with Bridgeport Discovery school this week in their woods. What is the purpose of inchworms lining up on the same leaf, chomping as one? Bet you don’t know/care. There’s a LOT we do not know about nature.
I got a great education at NCSU in Raleigh, NC at the four year horticulture school. I had great teachers who put their heart and soul into passing on to us kids everything they thought we should know to be good at our chosen professions.
One concept I always remembered was the faulty American agricultural habit of monoculture where the farmer plants thousands of acres of just one crop like corn instead of alternating crops in that same acreage to give pathogens a difficult time gaining the upper hand. Every perfect lawn is a shining example of monoculture. Alternating crops originates somewhere, I don't know where. Possibly dates back thousands of years, but I'm not sure.
Monoculture is easy on the farmer to begin with because he gets to program the land with just one cultural practice. Same seed/same spacing/same fertilizer/same irrigation/same insecticides/same fungicides- you get the idea. Farmer Bob buys all fertilizer/seed /insecticides/herbicides /fungicides from someone like Monsanto who suggested the practice to begin with. Conflict of interest???
Farmer wins. Chemical company wins. Consumer wins with lower prices for agricultural products. Just at the beginning of this practice, though.
Underestimate genetics, DNA, mother nature, eventually your crop will fail, and that's what is wrong with American mass agriculture. A crop like corn, planted by the hundreds or thousands of acres offers a pathogen an unlimited swath of foraging opportunity, an unabated feeding opportunity. Farmer sprays to kill, thinking nothing about genetics, DNA, or survival of the fittest. There's always some small percentage resistant to chemicals.
The problems start when the insecticides and fungicides and herbicides kill only 97% of the insects and fungus and weeds. The remaining genetically resistant 3% of pathogens reproduce to form a super strain resistant to the chemicals. Monsanto and others then develop a new chemical that kills 97% of those new strains then the remaining 3% reproduce a new generation of resistant fungus/weeds/insects. Cycle of this war continues to this day...you get the idea! That warfare has been going on since World War Two ended when chemical production intensified, and the toxicity to the environment, ecosystems, and our bodies has increased unabated.
(Not so) Funny thing is, though, that before World War Two, American agriculture lost 7% of all crops to pests. Pests and the pest’s pathogens had this parity where the natural balance of insects/weeds/fungus were kept in check by the warfare that occurred between those naturally-occurring enemies without human intervention! Everything had a natural balance.
Humans got involved with the nasty chemicals that we eat unknowingly in residuals today, and guess what??? American agriculture loses....... (drumroll) 15% of the crop to pests! We might as well have never ever used any chemicals at all and we would all be better off! Cheaper, no residuals in our food. Let nature fight the war! But we are too unintelligent, and greed rules the day.
So, it’s a proven fact that mother nature’s form of warfare in American agriculture was twice as efficient at controlling pathogens as mankind’s toxic chemical, short sighted, cancerous, and environmentally destructive method of farming.
Hindsight is 20/20. I learned all this in 1980-83, but nothing has changed, it’s only gotten worse. More field warfare. More chemicals. More cancer. Let’s not even discuss the environmental devastation wreaked by chemical companies, farmers, and (yes- US) the consumer for demanding the “perfect “ flawless apple.
Fast forward to the point of my story- the classic American lawn-Environmental destruction at it's best. American agricultural monoculture shrunk down to fit on your property. All the above dissertation about discarding biodiversity in favor of the “man knows best” theory of managing land. Only problem is, though, that we do not know best. Nature does.
I was mowing my lawn the other day and I looked down and saw weeds. Mainly clover. I said to myself “biodiversity,” my education coming back to enlighten me again. When I realized that biodiversity in a lawn is a GOOD thing, I was finally happy with the future of my lawn, and saw a clear path to having a lawn that is easier, cheaper, and better for the environment.
I've mowed it since and noticed honey bees and other insects buzzing around the clover happily pollinating whilst I polluted the atmosphere mowing the lawn. A few weeks have passed as the dim light bulb over my head grew brighter, and I've noticed that clover mixes with turfgrass nicely.
I thought back to college and my great teachers and decided that I was no longer buying into the American lawn theory of monoculture. I’m not using insecticides on my lawn ever ever again. No more weed killers. Probably no more lawn food.
Yet I certainly will apply clover seed and grass seed. Let my enormous lawn be a PART OF NATURE instead of an ENEMY OF NATURE. Sounds very strange coming from someone who has access to every toxic chemical known to man, but I now reject that way of life in favor of a more sustainable way of existence. Pics to follow, as well as any conclusions that I might derive from this test. I’m NEVER GOING BACK to having a polluting lawn... but with help from clover, it’s gonna look great!
Wikipedia facts about American agriculture:
If we apply more chemicals now than 1940, yet lose more crops than then, what’s the point? It’s totally illogical!
Im letting clover grow on my lawn. I welcome it. I embrace it. I’ll reseed with clover AND grass seed like they did in the 1900s.
Little known fact- clover has a love affair with a bacteria!! Scandalous! The clover grows. The bacteria grows. They meet each other. Hi! They say to each other. The clover invites the bacteria to suck on its roots in exchange for the bacteria donating nitrogen that it alone is able to grab out of the atmosphere. The nitrogen feeds the clover as well as surrounding plants growing in that same soil, and the clover in turn feeds the bacteria nutrients from it’s photosynthesis. This love affair, steamy as it is, is called a symbiotic relationship, unheard of in the human world where all humans know is pathogenic relationships- TAKE TAKE TAKE and never give back, and we wonder why there is this thing now called irreversible global warming.
In the old days, Americans dumped used motor oil down street drains- where else you gonna get rid of it? The oil worked its way through the water’s cycles, poisoning its way through various ecosystems. It’s still there, diluted enough so we can’t see it.
When four step lawn programs are applied on millions of lawns across our country, it’s like millions of oil-changing homeowners are dumping raw chemicals down street drains. Same thing, it’s just accepted because these chemicals are advertised and sold by companies we “trust,” so it must be ok.
In both the programs above, as with most programs, there are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micronutrient loads that dissolve and run off in rain and irrigation events just like oil used to. Crabgrass preventers, broadleaf weed killers, insecticides add to the mix- following oil’s nasty path into street drains, streams, rivers, and eventually into the ocean.
Toxicity of chemicals is measured in parts per million. For a large organism like a human being, chemicals present in low PPMs won’t actually KILL us. Might make us diseased or sick, but it won’t kill us. Not so with microbes, single celled organisms, and bacterias. The smallest organisms WILL be killed, though. The next-largest organisms that feed on the teenyiest ones have no more food, so they die. So do their predators, and theirs and theirs. That’s the food chain.
Hi. I’m a salamander. When was the last time you saw me? Probably a long time- like DECADES. My kind is EXTREMELY sensitive to pollutants. We are easily killed by small PPM amounts of chemicals in the environment. Be careful putting chemicals into the environment, please. Otherwise, we might become one of the one million species that goes extinct because of mankind's bad behavior.
Me again. I totally realize that nature lovers like myself are in the minority. I’m older. I’m kinda well-educated, and kinda-relatively intelligent. I’ve reproduced giving me more impetus to care about my child’s child’s child’s future.
I am of the opinion that most if not all people need to be on board with the fight to maintain our earth, and when I drive anywhere on any road, I notice how an increasing percentage of people drive extremely rudely and aggressively, thinking of their own priorities as more important than anyone else’s. If these are our teammates in a war to protect our ecosystems, then I’m afraid the battle is lost- a realistic assessment of our situation. Environmentalism ain’t in the forefront of most people’s minds.
There is not one grain of benefit to the environment in any of those bags- only environmental destruction and residual pollution. Murder in a bag if insect death is considered. Put insecticides on your lawn, and you are eradicating life as we know it on your lawn, because every single lawn insecticide kills every single insect that lives in your lawn or will land on your lawn later-all insects, both good and bad, and there you have my connection to American agricultural monoculture.
Go ahead and put those four step programs on your turf. Just do it with the knowledge that you, on a smaller scale, are no different than the crop dusting farmer unintelligently destroying the natural world’s biodiversity.
Your beautiful lawn comes with a price tag that you might never see with your own eyes, but it’s there, and what I’m offering is a possible alternative solution.
I am going to ask my grass seed manufacturer to make an “ECO-BLEND” grass seed that has clover in it, as well as selling 100% clover seed for overseeding on existing lawns. It’s one more thing that I can do to help other people come to terms with how insensitive American lawns are to local ecosystems.
CLOVER IN LAWNS- ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES:
little or no mowing
attracts beneficial insects-75% of our insects are gone, thanks to mankind!
never needs fertilizer
never needs herbicides (outcompetes other weeds)
lives happily in shitty soils
feels nice and soft with bare feet
immune to dog urine damage
seed is CHEAP
comes back every year.
cohabitates with turfgrass happily
not good in high traffic areas (who cares?)
stains clothing more than turfgrass (who cares!)
...tRUMP speeding the death of our planet along at a faster and faster pace. What is wrong with that man???
I am extremely bothered about what I just read and I will put the live link to this article at the bottom of my dissertation on one of the reasons I hate tRUMP as much as I do.
Since 2016 when trump was elected president, I knew we were in trouble. His character, I felt, was woefully insufficient to hold America’s reins, let alone have control over the armed forces and the nuclear button.
Since he became our “leader,” he has done immeasurable harm to policies new and old designed by multiple administrations over five decades to protect various ecosystems from degradation, he has decimated clean air and water regulations, rolled back auto emission standards, lifted mileage requirements for automobiles...
He now allows offshore drilling for every state (except Florida where he lives- conflict of interest!). Sonic testing is blowing the eardrums out of marine mammals heads as you read my words.
My heart is racing and my stomach is churning as I write this.
In fact, I am not going to write any more. Click on this link if you dare, and conclude what you wish. Brace yourself for a good maddening read- just what you need!
My conclusion is stronger now- this presidency needs to be voted to the curb, along with the republican enablers and cuff-clingers in order to install an administration that can listen to scientists and do something about the future of our earth.
THIS JUST IN (just yesterday)- More doom and gloom. When is our government going to do SOMETHING??? Never, so it’s up to you and me.
I will put the link to this article up soon, or just go to Washington post, it’s in today’s paper. Realistic part of me is fully aware that there is only one tool at our disposal that can fight climate change, and that tool is called- YOUR VOTE.
Clematis blossoms shining in full glory this weekend. This long-lived vine needs to be planted in a hole that goes deep with a handful of lime in the mix. Full sun/cool roots is the order of the day for clematis. My mom planted one in 1976 and it flowers every year reliably.
My favorite plant ripening it's berries for some kid, bird, or parent to walk by and eat. Irrigation water beading up in what is left of the flower at the end of the berry. I've never seen this before.
Yellow dawn redwood absolutely glowing yesterday against a hot cloudless sky. Thought to be extinct, it was discovered about 120 years ago in China, and brought back to Boston for propagation and distribution. Grows tall and strong.
Pink buckeye at the tail end of its magnificent flowering time- very long lasting flowering tree. Native.
Wild white one flowering on Main Street.
Why doesn’t my irrigation head work???
Because some ingenuous insect placed junior inside and sealed the opening, that’s why. The insect world is pretty smart once one begins to look at their life cycles.
Every day. Every paper. All parts of the world. Climate change is killing everything on the planet and we humans never change our ways.
If we try to change anything about how we live it’s in convenient and insignificant ways, like the person who helps with cleaning up after thanksgiving dinner by taking a nap on the couch while everyone else toils.
If we choose to change our behavior at all, it’s in ways that amount to absolutely no net difference in the inexorable deterioration our ecosystems. Turn off the lights when you leave a room? Sure that helps, but that’s not gonna do much for the overall problem.
Most Americans really don't care, I feel. We live how we want to, and the future is someone else’s problem. It's either that or people just do not know how to change, what to change.
Heart-wrenching pictures in the news like Polar Bears rummaging through discarded vodka bottles looking for edible morsels and the accompanying articles are read by us then forgotten, going on about our lives changing absolutely nothing about the way we live on this planet in ways that mean much.
When is America going to do SOMETHING, anything? Sure would be nice if the people in power would tell us something like this-
“Drive ten percent less and the planet is saved!!!”
Don’t eat red meat and the glaciers will start to recover!!!”
But neither political party has any advice on the subject, nor do they say anything about the thousands of news reports telling us about our impending doom. Not a peep. Ever wonder why? I didn’t until last week. Then it occurred to me that both republicans and democrats are cowards, looking ahead a year and a half instead of ten/twenty/thirty years ahead. The ONLY person in politics who had the guts to say anything about this and offer some solution is AOC, and the cowardly republicans who cater to lobbyists and tRUMP ripped her to shreds and made fun of her proposals, offering nothing at all as solutions of their own, instead rolling back environmental protections in hundreds of instances. Reopen our coasts to oil exploration tRUMP ordered. Where does he come from??!! Bring back coal burning power plants he says-what a fool- just trying to get coal votes. Degrade auto efficiency and emission laws tRUMP mandates-assinine! Oh, let’s start a war with Iran!!! Great.
We are screwed as a people, and we can’t really blame politicians. Sure, they are self-serving cowards mostly interested in their own personal fortunes (some things will never change), but all of us know at this moment in time that something in the way that we live needs to change, but none of us are really willing to do what needs to be done. Maybe half of that is that we really do not know what it is that needs to be done! What are we to change about the way we live? Sure would be nice to know maybe four things that we each can do to start to change in some meaningful way. Without leadership, it's pretty much impossible.
But this is what I’ve done so far to change my life:
I switched all my lights to LED, made a huge difference in my bill.
I let my lawn grow a tad longer so it doesn't need to be cut as often. Small engines pollute A LOT and are not regulated by the EPA.
New high efficiency washing machine-
Low flow water fixtures throughout the house.
New low flow toilet.
I got my water bill down really low. I don't use much water. Lots of energy is needed to pump water, then lots of energy needed to pump sewage. Not using much water is a very good for the earth and your wallet at the same time.
I actually drive a LOT LESS, telling customers to text me pictures so I don’t need to go to their house. I drive a lot less than I used to! Saves $$$, pollutes less, less wear and tear on the vehicle.
I eat a lot out of a large garden in my back yard, food from my own soil nourishes me and my kid. Lots of salads! Cheaper/better/healthier- can’t beat that. Almost no carbon footprint associated with home veggie gardens.
Composting decomposable food scraps (not meat stuffs) keeps some portion of my garbage out of the waste stream.
Red meat twice a month or so. Red meat/Beef production is a VERY BAD thing for the planet. Republicans make fun of this part of the green new deal, but what have they suggested as solutions to climate change? Absolutely nothing but cynical jokes and partisan attacks- they should be ashamed of themselves but they aren't.
No plastic bags at the grocery store (not that easy). I do not buy stuff with too much plastic packaging. I now don't buy milk in plastic jugs- now only the papery carton milk.
I do not use insecticides unless absolutely necessary. I stopped selling lawn insecticides at the nursery.
I actually dont don’t know what else to do- waiting for other ideas from above, not holding my breath though.. As I write this I realize that nothing that I listed will make one dent in anything to slow down global warming, but it’s better than doing nothing.
Bet you don’t know what this plant is on the left- you’ve never seen it before.
Who needs hot red flowers covering the shrub in summer when you get almost black glossy foliage all season long? Well, with this plant you get both.
There are two ways to look at plants with translucent foliage. One way is when the sunlight bounces off the leaves.
Sure, nice leaves-colorful too, but nothing in comparison to...
...when the sun shines through the tree the colors and contrasts magnify the colors and the spectrums. My phone camera just doesn’t capture what I’m trying to say.
My theory is that trees that have leaves are best planted on the east/south/western parts of properties so they can glow at certain times of the day and year.
Reflective trees like evergreens are best planted on the northwest/north/northeast parts of your land if possible.
Take silvery blue spruce for example. If you plant one on the south side of your land what you see for most of the year is the darker shadowy side of the tree while the shiny side is on the other unseen side.
That same tree planted on the sunny north side has the sun bouncing off the needles all day all year- that’s the best vantage point for evergreens.
Its these tiny considerations that come to mind sometimes when trying to figure out what to plant where.
Crepe myrtle foliage yesterday. Cool plant with stunning summer flowers and really attractive glossy maroonish leaves.
The sun came out FINALLY yesterday shocking my system with vitamin D. The sun didn’t heat up the air until around three, then off went the flannel jacket, down to two t-shirts. Maybe only one t-shirt today. Worst spring ever weather-wise, and last night was the first no fire in the wood stove night. We are finally getting our first load of veggies and annuals today.
I mixed up a batch of seed/soil for lawn repair in Monroe. This combo sprouts new lawns in days not weeks. Give it a try!
Its safe now to start your veggie garden. These tiny pots were started two weeks ago, and they’re s-l-o-w-l-y showing life.
Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ absolutely glowing with vigor in yesterday’s sun. This tree’s foliage changes each and every day in minute yet visible ways.
Evolution engineered this flower with each structure serving some role in pollination and reward for the insects and birds that visit. Too bad I know nothing of any of that except for the fact that it’s pretty interesting to wonder about.
Why does the tree put thousands of tiny hairs on each flower’s petals? What function do tiny hairs serve? Who benefits?
What reward is waiting at the back back of the flower’s throat? Who goes in there besides hummingbirds?
Maybe if a greater percentage of humans in the world wondered about this stuff the environmental situation wouldn’t be so dire.
Coarsely serrated foliage of a hybrid jap maple yesterday afternoon.
Another “linearlobum” Japanese maple that replaced a star magnolia in our parking lot display yesterday. The star magnolia, however stunning when in flower, won’t shine again for another 48 weeks. Not a good enough tree for me. Magnolias flower for a brief time then you gotta wait almost a year for the tree to do anything again.
I found a birds nest in the Norway spruce. This bird species just makes flat mud nests with no cups. I think it’s mourning dove strategy. One flat nest I saw had baby feathers on it but no babies. First mourning dove hatchlings are old enough to go out into the world.
Weeping variegated kousa dogwood looking pretty damn good yesterday with it’s first full set of leaves. Flowers come in June.
Looks really good, doesn’t it?
I’ve been walking past these displays without buying because I want to, not because I want to.
Make any sense?
Here I go again with environmental activism- yet another six am post about one man’s efforts to do his part (although he feels it’s too little too late). We are killing the planet one day at a time, and human culture’s momentum and self-destructive stupidity isn’t willing to do anything about it despite decades of warnings from scientists. Read the New York Post’s big story this morning- pictures of Kylie Jenner’s vacation on a beach somewhere. Like anyone cares... Meaningless stories like that seem to capture headlines and interest more than much else. Must mean there is a greater interest in social "news" than environmental news for most of us, and the papers know this, so they feed us a never-ending menu of garbage.
Beef production wreaks havoc for our planet in every single way, from methane farts to nitrate runoff, erosion, acres of land destroyed, weed seed dispersal eradicating native species, energy required to feed the critters, and energy required to get to market. Not to mention the dubious effects on the human body that consumes it. I can’t eat pork either because of a show I watched illuminating how we shitty humans treat pigs who are three times smarter than dogs. I absolutely love my dog, and cannot imaging her being three times smarter. We treat pigs in inhumane ways- barbaric actually. No to pork consumption.
Yet I am an expert carnivore. I know how to cook this stuff into a delicious tummy-stuffing experience, but for the past year I have turned my back on beef.
When I walk past displays like this it’s like someone walking past a cage in the town dog pound to see the pet he returned, eyes of the pet digging into the soul of the ex-owner. I feel like a recovering addict- trying to overcome the alluring pull of the addiction each time I see these steaks. But I’m sticking to my guns. I still eat it but it is accompanied by large helpings of guilt as the tasty stuff slides down my throat.
From now on, my choice is to eat mainly plants, fish, chicken, what else is there? The environmental destruction is way way way less than beef production, and pretty soon I’ll be eating almost exclusively out of my garden- a carbon footprint that I can live with. I gotta be honest with you though, all that gardening is hard work but I guess each of us has gotta make some sacrifices towards a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
Check out this headline in tonight’s Washington Post- an honorable and honest newspaper despite what tRUMP- proponent of global warming- says. I couldn’t summon up the gumption to actually read the article.