Tag Archive | environment

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-16-2017 Illinois Beach Park

This day’s Blooming Flowers all occurred at Illinois State Beach Park. This place has such an awesome biodiversity. I love coming here and seeing all the birds and plants. I’ve never been here this early in the year before and got to see some new plants, along with some oldie but goodies.

Click to see previous years blooms 2016201520142013

Alliaria petiolata ~ Garlic Mustard

Alliaria petiolata ~ Garlic Mustard

    

Draba nemorosa ~ Yellow Whitlow-grass   ||   Baby Oak leaves ~ Quercus

Arabidopsis lyrata ~ Lyre-leaved Rock Cress

Got me!

Lake Michigan – The view from our back window

Fragaria vesca ~ Woodland Strawberry

    

I’ve still not figured this one out…   ||   I suck at grasses, at least the non-ornamental ones.

Opuntia cymochila ~ Prickly Pear

Lithospermum incisum ~ Narrow-leaf Puccoon

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-12-2017 Volo Bog 

Happy Fooking Friday!

This week has sucked. Like really sucked. I’m starting tomorrow with 42.5 hours under my belt. I’m exhausted. Yesterday, I had a nursery tell me the 6 – 7″ caliper pears I ordered have not been dug for an order that was placed last March. Oh. My. God. Remember the small digging window trees I spoke of earlier this week? Well, these are a small window trees and the window has CLOSED on digging them. The color drained from my bosses face when I told him. I’m going to another nursery to view trees that were dug last year and over-wintered. That’s usually nt a good thing, however what choice do I have?!? Gaaa!

We are going camping this weekend. I will switch off that part of my life when I leave the parking lot! 🙂

Click to see previous years blooms 2016201520142013

Aquilegia canadensis ~ Canadian or Canada columbine

Pasque Flower ~ Anemone pulsatilla

There’s a turtle down there, I swear…

Geranium maculatum  ~ Wild Geranium


Beautiful pond

I can see it’s yellow….

     

Nope. I’ve got nothing.   ||   Dodecatheon meadia ~ Prairie Shooting Star

Geum triflorum ~ Prairie smoke

Now just look at that HAIR! Don King would be proud.

The actual Volo Bog, surrounded by tamarack trees.

      

Menyanthes trifoliata ~ Buckbean   ||   I’m going to guess a viola

     

Equisetum arvense ~ Horsetail   ||   Sisymbrium loeselii ~ Tall Hedge Mustard

Sarracenia purpurea ~ Pitcher plant

Phlox divaricata ~ Woodland phlox

Lithospermum canescens ~ Hoary Puccoon

Say that three times fast 😉

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 4-24-2017

Happy Monday!

Is everyone ready for Spring?? I am, for the most part, nothing has changed in all the years I’ve been in Midwestern landscaping. The phones at work are starting to glow, emails are filled with requests for new projects to be done ASAP. Seriously?!! Where were you all winter? I’m working on the projects that smart folks called me about in February. Smarter folks actually called me last December. Their plans have been approved, permits pulled, material produced and trees dug. All while you thought about your winter vacation and forgot about your landscape. And now you are angry that I’ve not gotten a quote back to you in less than three days? On top of that, do you really think you’re going to get into the construction schedule anytime soon? Huge belly laugh!!! Foolish 1%er. The economy is better now and your yelling for prime service is falling on deaf ears.

Click here for all things blooming in 2013 20142015 2016

Muscari spp. ~ Grape Hyacinth

Erythronium americanum ~ Trout lily

Dicentra cucullaria ~ Dutchman’s Breechs

These are related to the Bleeding heart.

     

Viburnum × burkwoodii ~ Burkwood Viburnum   ||   Mertensia virginica ~ Virginia Bluebells

Stylophorum diphyllum ~ Celandine poppy

A fav of mine. I’ve had these in my garden for the last 11 years. They are hassle free and continue to grow without any assistance from me. They are one of the longest blooming flowers I know of. It has bloomed for me from April through October, fairly regularly. It is very happy under a limbed-up spruce on the East side of my property.

     

Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ ~ Chanticleer Pear  ||  Special Daffy in my yard.

Sanguinaria canadensis ~ Bloodroot

Another one in my East-side shade garden. These bloom for such a short time, it’s a shame. They even close their flowers at night. Remember where these are in the fall, as the leaves turn a brilliant red during the harvest months.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Pyrus calleryana ‘Glen’s Form’ ~ Chanticleer pear

Semen Tree

Another name for the Bradford Pear, and ornamental pear tree. Characterized by greenish-white flowers which smell like a cross between old semen, dirty vagina, and rotting fried shrimp. Common throughout the South, these trees are pleasantly located near eateries and other fine establishments.

“Oh darn, there goes my appetite, for the semen trees in front of the South Campus Dining Hall are in bloom.”

I love Urban Dictionary! It teaches me how to communicate with the yutes these days…

image

Common Name: Bradford pear, Chanticleer pear, Aristocrat pear, Cleveland Select pear.
Family: Rosaceae (Rose family)
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 25′ to 35′ feet
Spread: 13′ to 16′ feet
Growth: Starts very upright and pyramidal, aging into an oval.
Bloom Time: April to May – before the leaves emerge
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium – Can tolerate drought after established.
Tolerate: Clay Soil, Air Pollution
Salt Spray:  Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: Intolerant
Flower: Showy
Leaf: The leaves are alternate, simple, 2-3 in. (5.1-7.6 cm) long, petiolate, and shiny with wavy, slightly toothed margins. Good Fall
Fruit: Small (1/4″ / .5 cm), green bunches of fruit which are hard until softened by frost. After which, birds eat and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Popular Cultivars and their differences:
Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ (Chanticleer callery pear):
Narrower habit, foliage has a red-purple fall color.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’ (Aristocrat callery pear):
Leaves have a wavy edge, less prone to branch breaking, however more susceptible to disease, fall color is inconsistent.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Autumn Blaze’ (Autumn Blaze callery pear):
Good, early fall color, more cold hardy, susceptible to fire blight, consistent good red-purple fall color.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Redspire’ (Redspire callery pear):
Fall color more yellow than red, oval form, less prone to branch breakage, however very susceptible to fire blight.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Jack’ (Jack callery pear):
Shorter and more narrower than species, yellow in fall.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’ (Bradford pear):
Upright, fast growing, sterile cultivar. Fast-growing causes many branch failures, which can contribute to failure of the tree eventually.

imageI’m actually not particularly a fan of the pear, although I do love the true fruit kind. Pyrus communis ‘Williams pear’. I have a gnarly, old one, too tall to pick from in my yard. Occasionally, a squirrel will leave one on the ground and I’ll get to eat it.

Sadly, this ornamental tree is one of my boss’s favorites. We plant it in droves. Frowny face. He likes to line the driveways, flank patios and front doors with them. Yes, they are pretty, however there are many alternatives to white blooming, spring trees (Read Below) When these pears are in full bloom, many folks notice a foul smell. Even famed Horticulturist Dr. Michael Dirr calls the smell “malodorous”. Others have described the smell as rotting fish, chlorine or semen.

In 1858, a French missionary named, Joseph-Marie Callery (1810–1862), collected this plant in China and documented it’s existence. In the early 1900’s, the U.S. was having problems with their common fruiting pear (pyrus communis) succumbing to fireblight. In 1917, Callery pear seed was brought in from China aimed at developing a fireblight resistance for the species. It wasn’t until the 1950’s, that the Callery pear was perfected and marketed in U.S. as a promising, new ornamental tree, leading to monumental landscape plantings. During the 1980’s, concerns about its structural weaknesses and its escape into our native forests began to surface.

Callery pears are remarkably resistant to disease and blight, imagealthough they are regularly killed due to their naturally excessive growth rates causing them to be weak-limbed. Strong winds, ice storms and heavy snow are the chief culprits of pear deaths. Some cultivars, such as ‘Bradford’, are particularly susceptible to storm damage.

Many states now dealing with escaped invasive pears include Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. (Invasive.org is a great source for invasive species information in your area)

The reason they have become a problem in states like mine is the vast amount planted by landscapers and although folks think these pears are sterile, they really aren’t. In general, the various cultivars are unable to produce fertile seeds when they are self-pollinated, or even cross-pollinated with another tree of the same cultivar. However, if different cultivars of Callery pears are grown within an insect’s pollination distance (300′ ft – 100 m), they can produce fertile seeds, which birds will efficiently disperse. In addition to the previous method, fertile pear varieties are commonly used as the rootstock for grafting ornamental varieties. If the grafted crown is damaged, the fertile rootstock will grow out, producing fertile fruit. These two factors, among others, have contributed to the pear spreading into natural areas and becoming an invasive problem.

Here’s a list of wonderful alternatives to planting a pear:

Red horsechestnut ‎- Aesculus x carnea

Serviceberry – Amelanchier × grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’

American hornbeam – Carpinus caroliniana

Redbud – Cercis canadensis ‘Alba’ (a white variety)

Yellowwood – Cladrastis kentukea

Dogwood – Cornus kousa, Cornus racemosa, Cornus alternifolia

Ironwood – Ostyra virginiana

Blackgum – Nyssa sylvatica

Chokecherry – Aronia melanocarpa

Blackhaw viburnum – Viburnum prunifolium

American fringetree – Chionanthus virginicus

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Chippy Chipmunk ~ Tamias striatus

These guys are my adorable little bird seed removers. No one likes weeds  under the feeders 🙂

The genus name of Tamias is Greek for treasurer, steward, or housekeeper, surely because of how this little critter cleans up all the seeds on the ground, storing them for winter dining. The common name may have been spelled chitmunk from the native Odawa (Ottawa) word jidmoonh, meaning “red squirrel”.

Their average size is 2-6″ inches long, with a 3″ inch tail and weigh less than a pound. Chipmunks will live to an average of 2 – 3 years in the wild, however can easily double that in captivity. Sadly, these cuties are on the bottom of the food chain. Chipmunks will gather food along the ground, most times staying out of wide open spaces. They prefer areas with underbrush, evergreens, and downed trees, where they can hide from predators like bird of prey, foxes, coyotes, and snakes.

        

Clearly, this is a little boy chipmunk 😉  ||  A group of chipmunks is called a scurry.

These little engineers like to dig two types of burrows: shallow burrows for fast get-aways while foraging, and deeper burrows where the entrance can be up to 20′ feet long, where they nest, store food and hibernate. Chipmunks rarely venture further than 1,000 feet from their burrows at any time.

They feed on insects, nuts, berries, seeds, fruit, they also eat other creatures such as insects, baby birds, frogs and bird eggs, which they stuff into their stretchy cheek pouches and and bring back to their burrows to store.

I used to hear these chirps and think they were birds.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 

 

Burn the Fields!

Since I was focusing on my front foundation plant bed for the past two years, I passed on doing my veggie garden. We tried to keep it weed free, however weeds won the battle. Late last fall, we just cut it down to a few inches tall. We are planning to have the veggie garden back this season. To prepare for this, we needed to get rid of these weeds! An easy way for us to do this was to burn them. I’m a bit of a pyro. In my younger years, I would have loved to be the firefighter that battles the wildfires. I’m too old for that, however I am certified to work prairie fires. Of course, I can still have my fun in my own yard!! 

In lieu of using the normal fire starter method used for prairie fires (diesel) we opted for a harder method, however our method would not taint the soil. We used a propane torch. It got the fire started, however because we weren’t dropping drips of fuel, which would fuel a fire so many ways better, our method relied on the dryness of the plant matter and wind. We chose a 10 MPH wind, and used it to ‘push’ the fire along the bed. It wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done.

I’m not sure where my hubby got that pink firehat. They were being given out somewhere and it had somehow got placed on the shelf near the propane torch. He thought it was apropos for the situation. I just thought it made him look cute.

Like I said, this was not exactly a wildfire! This was as good as it got. I think those flames are reaching waist height.

In case you’re wondering why we are burning our fields, in short, our area “The Great Plains”, requires a burning now and then to cleanse the non-natives from the native lands. Non-native plants and seeds usually can’t survive the heat of the fires like our natives can. Ancient Native Americans learned this long ago. If you’d like to learn more, click here.

Burn, baby, burn!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories

This also gets me off the hook for fresh material on the busiest day of the week  😉

The Willows are starting to turn yellow here. wpid-20140304_070015_richtonehdr.jpg

This is right on schedule with last year. This photo is from last year and had I taken a new one last Friday, it would have been void of snow. However Mr. Jack Frost is not done wit us yet! We’ve got 3-5 inches predicted for this evening! (Technically, I’m writing this Sunday night ~ We’ll see in the comments if I’m right!)

Summer blend gas is on order.

Our gas prices are starting to rise, even though the cost of a barrel of oil is going down. Yeah, living by a large city is awesome!! Not. So even though there is plenty of gas made and ready to go, the refineries have to make summer blend for the area that drives the price up almost double. $2.97 per gallon now will be $4.50 in June.

The upside is usually the price of diesel stays the same price throughout the year at about $2.70 per gallon. This is good when we are camping and driving a bit to get where were plopping for the weekend.

s daliDaylight Savings Time

This was a few weeks ago, however I think it’s important to understand where these notions come from and just why do we do it?!?

Many think this was all done to try to save resources, energy and money… However, environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, found that the Daylight saving did indeed drop lighting and electricity use in the evenings… HOWEVER, higher energy demands during darker mornings completely canceled out the evening gains.

rain barrel35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

  1. Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste. Watering in the evening can leave leaves wet all night, promoting disease problems. Better yet. DON’T WATER THE LAWN AT ALL!!! It doesn’t die, it goes dormant.

  2. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.

  3. Use water from dehumidifiers to water indoor and outdoor plants. You can also collect condensation water from air conditioning units to use for watering plants.

https://midwesternplants.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/garlic_mustard2.jpg?w=171&h=182

99 Edible Plants for the Midwest Forager

Many young weeds are great for food! Take a look at this list and get ready for fresh, free veggies!

Plants can be your best bet for long term survival or your short ride to being plant food. Here’s another wonderful site: Plants For a Future that lists over 7,000 plants and their medicinal purposes, really really great stuff going on there.

Asclepias spp. – Milkweed ~ Young pods, before they set seed*

Asimina triloba – Pawpaw ~ fruits (I’m dying to try these)

Artium spp. – Burdock ~ The root

Barbarea spp. – Winter Cress ~ The young leaves & flower

Betula spp. – Birch ~ The sap, inner bark, twigs

Brassica spp. – Wild Mustards ~ The young leaves, flowerbuds, & seeds

Capsella bursa-pastoris – Shepard’s Purse ~ The young leaves, seedpods

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Enjoying the Climate Roller Coaster!

This is kinda crazy weather for February in the Midwest. In my experience, when Mother Nature teases us with a week like this in the middle of winter… She will generally rain down a hellion’s dose of rag-ass on us during April – May. I know. Just try to schedule outdoor construction for a living!=-O
Granted, things have started early and hung on to transition right into summer. It was as recent as 2012, when I had lilacs blooming on April 13, instead of the average time of late May.

I hope that we have another 2012, I’m ready for it =-)

Dump Shit Here ~~~>

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) claims this was an ‘honest mistake’. Seriously? How does ANYONE think dumping shit on the ground is OK*?!? Excusing something like this is why this country is going to hell in a handbasket. I would have thrown the driver……….. (wait for it) UNDER THE BUS on this one and said, “Sorry we hired a moron to drive our bus, it won’t happen again.”

The whole situation reminded me of one of my favorite Christmas movies.

*EDDIE DOES!!! HaHa!!!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl