Tag Archive | gardening

Spring Blooming Flowers 4-28-2017

Happy Arbor Day!!! Hug a tree =-)

I hope everyone has a nice Friday and enjoys their weekend.

Click to see previous years blooms 2016201520142013

Tulips ~ French Blend

Podophyllum peltatum ~ May Apple

Dicentra spectabilis ~ Bleeding Hearts

   

Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’ & ‘Double Take Orange’

Viola canadensis ~ White violet  || Tooooolips!

Ribes uva-crispa ~ Gooseberry

Fuzzy tulips

Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Acer platanoides ~ Norway Maple

Common Name: Norway mapleimage
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 40′ – 50′ feet
Spread: 30′ – 50′ feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Yellow-green in color
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Form: Columnar to Oval
Suggested Use: Do not plant
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Drought, Air Pollution

‘Columnare’

Dark green

Yellow

Columnar

50′ x 20′

‘Crimson Sentry’

Purple

Insignificant

Columnar

35′ x 25′

‘Deborah’

Red in spring, bronze green in summer

Bronze, yellow

Oval

60′ x 60′

Emerald Lustre

Dark glossy green

Yellow

Round, oval

60′ x 60′

‘Crimson King’

Purple

Insignificant

Oval

35′ x 35′

Princeton Gold

Golden yellow

Yellow

Oval

45′ x 40′

‘Royal Red’

Maroon, red, glossy

Insignificant

Oval

40′ x 25′

‘Variegatum’

Green with white edge

Yellow

Rounded

60′ x 50′

imageJohn Bartram of Philadelphia was the first to bring the Norway maple from England to the U.S. in 1756 and soon it began appearing along streets and in parks.

As its name implies, this maple is native to Norway and much of Europe into western Asia. It was introduced to the U.S. in colonial times as an urban street tree and is still widely used for that purpose today. Many years of horticultural selection has produced cultivars that vary widely in form, from columnar to densely global and different leaf colors varying from red maroons, bright yellow and even variegated. Many times the purple leaved varieties are miss identified as ‘red maples’. An easy way to identify Norway maples would be to break a leaf off and if the sap is milky, its a Norway. Other maples will have clear sap.

Norway maples are found in woodlands near cities, especially in the northeastern U.S., they have also escaped cultivation and invaded many forests, fields and other natural habitats. Norway Maple can be monoecious or dioecious, meaning it produces male (staminate) flowers and female (pistillate) flowers on either the same or separate trees. Either way, they produce a large quantity of seeds that germinate rapidly. The species can be locally dominant in forest stands, create dense shade and displace native trees, shrubs and herbs. Its dense canopy also can shade out native wildflowers.

The normal leaf color is a dark green but cultivars have also been created with maroon, purple, and variegated foliage. Leaf variegation is not a stable trait and often tree canopies will display solid leaves along with variegated. Few Norway Maples provide meaningful fall color, a few yellows at most and often persisting on the tree until late season frosts before turning a drab olive brown.image

Norway maples tend to have very shallow roots and sometimes growing grass or any other ornamental plant under it is impossible. This also is one dirty tree… dropping trash during every season; starting with flower buds, two crops of seeds, twigs, branches, and copious amounts of leaves. There are many alternatives to Norway maples.

Red maple – Acer rubrum

Sugar maple – Acer saccharum

Hackberry – Celtis occidentalis

Basswood – Tilia americana

Northern red oak – Quercus rubra

Sycamore – Platanus occidentalis

© 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

Spring Annual Flower Containers

Happy Spring!

This season started off fun! I was able to go out an plant pots with my coworkers. We had beautiful weather to work in on top of it =-)

Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)

Spring flowers such as; Petunias, tulips, hyacinths, primrose, cyclamen, stock, hydrangea, muscari, snap dragons, ranunculus, helleborus, viola, ivy and diacia are just a few cool weather choices.

Give your display a bit of height with pussy willow or forsythia branches. If cut at the right time (pretty much right before placing in display) they will also bloom, adding to the WOW factor.

These flowers will last until the weather turns hot & then it’s time to switch over to your summer display.

You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.

Just like autumn pots, these don’t grow any larger than they are now. So design accordingly.

Here are some Spring displays from 2016, 2015, 2014 & 2013.

    

     

     

     

     

© 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

Baltimore Oriole ~ Icterus galbula

This medium-sized passerine measures 6 ½” to 8 ½” long and 9” to 12 ½ ” across the wings. They have a longish tail, fairly long legs and a thick, pointed bill. Their body weight averages 1.2 oz.

Baltimore Orioles love ripe fruit. Hang cut oranges from trees to entice orioles into your yard. There are special feeders that hold sugar water for them (like a hummingbird feeder). They also love grape jelly, which can be placed in a small bowl and hung from a branch. If you plant dark-colored, bright fruits and nectar-bearing flowers, such as raspberries, crab apples, serviceberry, tupelo, and trumpet vines… They will come! If your feeders are set-up perfectly for them, they will teach their young to come to them.

These photos were taken last fall, while we were camping. These feeders were hanging on the Camp Hosts site, which was right next to ours. He fed them sugar water and grape jelly. They would wait in the trees for him to fill the feeders!

Baltimore Orioles use their slender beaks to feed in an unusual way, called “gaping”. They stab their closed bill into soft fruits, then open their mouths to cut a juicy swath from which they drink with their brushy-tipped tongues.

Female orioles are just a tad lighter than the males, however they do tend to get darker with age, possibly even reaching the brightness of a male.

Baltimore orioles also forage by making short flights to catch insects. One of their favored prey is the tent caterpillar moth, which they typically eat in their larval stage, which can be a nuisance species if not naturally regulated by predation. The larvae caterpillar are beaten against a branch until their protective hairs are skinned off before being eaten. Gotta love these guys!!

The female oriole is the nest builder. She creates a tightly woven pouch consisting of plant or animal materials, and is usually located on the end of a branch. She likes to build in tall trees like elms, cottonwoods, maples or willows are usually selected. The female lays three to seven eggs, with the norm being around four. The eggs are pale gray to bluish white with an incubation period of about 12 to 14 days. Once the nestlings hatch, they are fed by both parents and brooded by the female for two weeks.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

OMG Asparagus… In April!

I think the earliest we’ve ever had asparagus was late April in 2015. Granted, this is one the first one to pop-up, however the others are never far behind. I’m so looking forward to fresh asparagus!

It was my first Friday back at work last week. The four months of three day weekends are officially over. Sad face. Only clocked in 46.5 hours. It’s still early.

Due to my co-worker’s health issue, I will going out in the field this year to plant the annual container flowers. How sick is it to be happy to be out in the field? I’m only doing it due to her bad health?  Sadly, that’s how life rolls.

Enjoy your Sunday! It’s going to be a beautiful one in the Midwest! I’ll have some beautiful pix from some of the pots we’ll be planting soon.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Show

 

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

Hurry Up, Already! Spring Can’t Come Soon Enough for Me!

Although I really can’t complain about our Midwestern winter this year, its still lasting too long for me. I’m hoping for an early spring, however it usually doesn’t happen like that when we’ve been teased so early in the year.  In mid-February, we had a week of 60F / 16C… That was just crazy weird! Of course the convertible top was down all of those days =-D We got a lot of yard work done that weekend. My front garden is all pruned and ready to be posted about. (I’ve been holding out on ya’all regarding showing you my whole front foundation bed!)

I’ve been out checking the status of the daffy and tulip bulbs, along with the buds on the lilac bush. The bulbs are barely out of the ground and no action on the lilac. I used to have a fair amount of crocus, snowdrops and grape hyacinths in my lawn. I haven’t replenished them in a few years and I think the squirrels have accidentally dug them up or they’ve perished, as I don’t see any yet. That’s OK. When things decide to pop, they tend to do so in a hurried manner. Spring bloomers, to me, are like the ocean or a 2 year old… turn your back on them for one second and they quickly change their status from OK to OH!

My quince are starting to bud. I love quince. Such a vibrant display of color. These shrubs are quite small right now, however as part of my front bed, I’m not planning on letting them get too large. I’m focusing on pruning them to be fuller shrubs. Quince can be quite leggy without proper pruning early in their lives. Since the blooms tend to be in the lower, inside regions of the plant, the more inside area, the more numerous the blooms. Same goes for my mock orange. These are a dwarf variety, however they have the same blooming location as the quince. Proper pruning will give these guys a thicker branching structure, lower in the plant. Of course you don’t want to get too crowded of a crown, that promotes less air circulation which lead to other problems. Like Goldilocks’s liking… not too much, not too little 🙂 This is a great argument for purchasing smaller, younger plants… so you are able to prune and train them to your liking.

This may be my last Friday off this Spring. Sad face. Although I am writing this post on St. Paddy’s Day, these photos were taken before the snow… There is still about 3″ (9cm) of snow on the shady parts of the yard. I’m going to try to eek one more Friday out of this month, however that’s pushing it. I’m actually doing rain/bad weather dances, as that will delay any construction / clean-ups until April 1, when our contracts actually start.

I finally got a real nice, competent co-worker to fill a much needed gap in our company. She’s very young, however hungry to learn. Who knows? Maybe she’ll like horticulture and follow that into college. Maybe not. I just hope she stays long enough to straighten this place out a bit. After only three weeks, she’s proved herself immensely in keeping all the records straight. You just don’t understand how stress relieving she is to me! I’m a horticulturist, Jim! Not an office manager!! 😉 I’m hopefully going to get out into the field a bit more because someone is there to man the office. Sadly, I did get my wish last Tuesday and had to drive to the North Shore in a snowstorm for an emergency tree locate. That was super!! NOT. In the end, it wasn’t that bad and I proved myself where 2 other ‘Master Arborists’* failed. Three’s a charm, they say…

As it is Spring around here… A time for new beginnings and all that. I’m going to try to get my life in a bit more order. First, I need to get myself in better health. I don’t know how I got so fat. I hope I don’t have a heart attack when I go out planting Spring flowers in three weeks =-O

Next, I need an income plan. Life at my job right now is pretty awesome (along with the pay), I’m not going to leave anytime soon. Yes, I have complained about it in the past (who doesn’t???), however now that I’ve got some well needed help, I can focus on what I consider more fun and that is working with plants.

Yes, I will continue with my blogging here. Honestly, during the flowering season, posts write themselves with all the photos. It only takes me a second to stop and shoot the flowers.. Haha!! I’m still hoping for that perfect writing job. Ya know…. The one that pays you enough to actually eat better than Ramon noodles? That is another reason I keep the blog going. It is a portfolio of sorts. It also shows I’m capable of finding stuff to write about.

Speaking of which… I thought of a great ‘Tuesday’ feature, that will also showcase some of the awesome blogs I follow. It’s a win / win. I’m not an ‘Awards Blog’, however I understand that they are around to try to promote each other’s blogs and share. I’m just not a big sharer of personal info, that’s all. However, I’m all for promoting each other! I’m not going to give the premise away just yet… They say you should always leave your audience wanting more….

 

*I’m only a test away from ‘Master Arborist’ status. It requires 10 years of active service, educational goals and passing a test.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

The Crab Apple ~ Malus Species

Like many heralds of spring, crab apples explode with color upon the dreary backdrop of April.  For a tree that can grow in almost all 50 states, there are not many other species that can offer the colors, shapes and sizes the crab offers. It also has three season interest (as seen below), with blooms in spring, beautiful green (or red) foliage in summer, along with berries for winter. Fall is usually uneventful, as fall color is unknown to this tree.

Crab apples are loved by many of our wildlife friends.

  • The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of many moths and butterflies.
  • The flowers provide an important source of early pollen and nectar for insects, particularly honeybees.
  • The fruit is eaten by birds including cardinals, robins, thrushes and finches.
  • Mammals, including mice, raccoons, vole and squirrels also eat crab apple fruit.

Although all of the blooms are similar shaped, they come in a plethora of colors, buds that bloom to another color and different bloom times. Crabs can grow from 5′ – 50′ feet, but on average, stay between 15′ to 25′ feet range. This makes them a great choice for under wires or a street tree, along with the fact they are salt tolerant. Varieties can vary from columnar, weeping, spreading, vase-shaped to pyramidal which allows them to be planted almost anywhere. Click here for my favorite ‘cheat sheet’ (It’s a PDF) on crabs, which shows size, shape, bloom and berry colors, along with other great info.

image    image    image

Sadly, there are many things lurking out there to attack crabs. Although many of the new varieties are resistant to one or more disease; scab, fireblight, leaf spot, rusts are among the top killers of crabs. Buying a resistant variety is the key to longevity.

Although the fruits are very tart, they are plentiful and able to be turned into jellies and jams quite easily, due to their high pectin. Here’s how you can do it!

A Makah Legend

The Indians who live on the farthest point of the northwest corner of Washington State used to tell stories, not about one Changer, but about the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things. So did their close relatives, who lived on Vancouver Island, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

When the world was very young, there were no people on the Earth. There were no birds or animals, either. There was nothing but grass and sand and creatures that were neither animals nor people but had some of the traits of people and some of the traits of animals.

Then the two brothers of the Sun and the Moon came to the Earth. Their names were Ho-ho-e-ap-bess, which means “The Two-Men-Who- Changed- Things.” They came to make the Earth ready for a new race of people, the Indians. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called all the creatures to them. Some they changed to animals and birds. Some they changed to trees and smaller plants.

Among them was a bad thief. He was always stealing food from creatures who were fishermen and hunters. The Two-Men-Who- Changed-Things transformed him into Seal. They shortened his arms and tied his legs so that only his feet could move. Then they threw Seal into the Ocean and said to him, “Now you will have to catch your own fish if you are to have anything to eat.”

One of the creatures was a great fisherman. He was always on the rocks or was wading with his long fishing spear. He kept it ready to thrust into some fish. He always wore a little cape, round and white over his shoulders. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed him into Great Blue Heron. The cape became the white feathers around the neck of Great Blue Heron. The long fishing spear became his sharp pointed bill.

Another creature was both a fisherman and a thief. He had stolen a necklace of shells. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed him into Kingfisher. The necklace of shells was turned into a ring of feathers around Kingfisher’s neck. He is still a fisherman. He watches the water, and when he sees a fish, he dives headfirst with a splash into the water.

Two creatures had huge appetites. They devoured everything they could find. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed one of them into Raven. They transformed his wife into Crow. Both Raven and Crow were given strong beaks so that they could tear their food. Raven croaks “Cr-r-ruck!” and Crow answers with a loud “Cah! Cah!”

The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called Bluejay’s son to them and asked, “Which do you wish to be–a bird or a fish?”

“I don’t want to be either,” he answered.

“Then we will transform you into Mink. You will live on land. You will eat the fish you can catch from the water or can pick up on the shore. ”

Then the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things remembered that the new people would need wood for many things.

They called one of the creatures to them and said “The Indians will want tough wood to make bows with. They will want tough wood to make wedges with, so that they can split logs. You are tough and strong. We will change you into the yew tree.”

They called some little creatures to them. “The new people will need many slender, straight shoots for arrows. You will be the arrowwood. You will be white with many blossoms in early summer.”

They called a big, fat creature to them. “The Indians will need big trunks with soft wood so that they can make canoes. You will be the cedar trees. The Indians will make many things from your bark and from your roots.”

The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things knew that the Indians would need wood for fuel. So they called an old creature to them. “You are old, and your heart is dry. You will make good kindling, for your grease has turned hard and will make pitch. You will be the spruce tree. When you grow old, you will always make dry wood that will be good for fires.”

To another creature they said, “You shall be the hemlock. Your bark will be good for tanning hides. Your branches will be used in the sweat lodges.”

A creature with a cross temper they changed into a crab apple tree, saying, “You shall always bear sour fruit.”

Another creature they changed into the wild cherry tree, so that the new people would have fruit and could use the cherry bark for medicine.

A thin, tough creature they changed into the alder tree, so that the new people would have hard wood for their canoe paddles.

Thus the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things got the world ready for the new people who were to come. They made the world as it was when the Indians lived in it.

 

*** Did you like this post? I have more coming that show trees in all of their seasons. Stay tuned!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl