Tag Archive | Learn

A great visit to Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah

A few weeks before our trip to Savannah, Georgia, I was looking through the things to do and came across the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. Sadly, when I went to their website, I learned that hurricane Mathew had been very mean to them. Many habitats were damaged. Thankfully, these were the animals day areas, and their nighttime digs were safe, as were all the animals.

Lucky for us, they opened the day after Christmas, with only the wolf exhibit being off limits. So, off we went!

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Many of these animals cannot be returned to the wild, for one reason or another.

Many of the birds cannot fly. On the cages, they have signs that inform you that birds that cannot fly like the security of the small space.



It was almost low tide here, the water was slowly getting lower, exposing the oysters.



Hey look! It’s BOB!




Hello, hello, hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there any one at home?

The red fox was supposed to be in here. Maybe in the little house.



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Thee were two bald eagles in here. There was a long tree trunk that went from the ground to this high roost.


Bison bison.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

The Clearing ~ A Dream of Jen Jensen, Landscape Architect

As a Midwestern lover of landscape architecture, I could not help but take the walking, story tour of the Jens Jensen inspired folk school called ‘The Clearing’, in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin

Jens Jensen was born near Dybbol in Denmark on September 13, 1860. He worked on his family’s farm until the war came to his country. After serving his mandatory military service and becoming engaged to Anne Marie Hansen, Jensen decided to immigrate to America. He landed in Florida, moved to Iowa and then Chicago, Illinois, where he took a job as a park laborer in 1888. He learned during his first opportunity to design a garden using native plants, after all of his exotic plants died. Later in his career, he formed the conservation movements that led to the creation of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, the Illinois State Park system, the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore. After that, he went into private practice and designed landscapes for Henry Ford, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rosenwalds, Florsheims, Ryersons and the Beckers.

Fast forward to his retirement at age 75, Jensen purchased land in Door County, Wisconsin and achieved his longtime dream of establishing “The Clearing” whose mission is “to provide diverse educational experiences in the folk school tradition, in a setting of quiet forests, meadows and water.” The Clearing was to be a place where city people could renew their contact with nature.


The main house


Mertha Fulkerson was a close aide to Jens. This woven piece of art (Mertha’s talent), is dedicated to her 18 years of service to The Clearing.

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One of the classrooms    ||   The main sitting room of the house

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Jens had a one room shack that overlooked the lake. I would have totally lived there. One room, very little upkeep!

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He was adamant that facing west towards the setting sun was magical.  There were many nooks to sit facing west.


He believed in the circle. A circle of learning, dancing and conversation.

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If you’d like to see some of his original drawings, click here!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Chipping Sparrow – Spizella passerina

Sherry of Port 4 U set me straight!
This post was originally written with the ID of a white crowned sparrow… OOPSY! Welp. Good thing she wasn’t scared to set me straight. I am glad for her correction. How else would I learn?!
So, without further adieu… Here’s my post on CHIPPING sparrows!

I had one of these cuties visit me last spring. It was the first time I’d seen one.


These guys learn their songs from the other sparrows around them, thus their songs are quite regional. Both the male and female sing, although the female’s song is less boisterous.

The chipping sparrow is known for its trill song that is a common sound in the woodland. They are often found in open prairies, however like to nest in the lower branches of trees and shrubs.

The nest is built by female, while the male stands guard and is open cup made of grass, twigs, weeds, rootlets, strips of bark, lined with fine grass, feathers, animal hair. The nest is very delicate and somewhat see thru. Soon, 4-5 creamy white to pale green, heavily spotted eggs will bless the couple. Incubation is done by the female only, and takes about 12 days.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

How to Read Regular Playing Cards as Tarot in a Horseshoe Layout

Here is my long-awaited, most requested, most clicked on post continuation of How to Use Regular Playing Cards to Predict the Future.

I think the reason my original post was so successful was its ease of directions! (Maybe because this is a Plant-Geek blog, and not a blog about Tarot reading?) Tarot reading is not something you just pick-up in a day. It takes years of training and the ability to channel your inner self. I have seriously backed off on the definitions of the cards, making it a bit easier to read a fortune. However, because of this, you will be able to pick-up a deck of playing cards right now and find out what’s in store for your future!!

In my original post, I described a 4 card layout that is great for yes or no questions; “Am I pregnant?”, “Should I change jobs?” or “Is he going to ask me to marry him?”.

The layout below, called a Horseshoe layout, gives a bit more perspective on what the future may hold. This time you will not be pulling out any cards ahead of time to represent yourself or the person you are reading for. Be sure to have the Jokers removed and shuffle the deck. If you are reading for another, allow them to shuffle. While shuffling, think of the question you would like the cards to answer for you.

Cards can be dealt from the top or chosen randomly throughout the deck. Whichever you choose, lay the seven cards you picked in the order drawn like below:

horseshoe layout

Card 1:  The Past

The card will indicate how important the past has been on this issue. Sometimes, there is no straightforward subject for this card, however it may relate how you have been feeling in the past about the subject.

Card 2:  The Present

This can refer to thoughts, feelings or actual events influencing the present situation.

Card 3:  The Future

Secret influences that could alter the outcome of this question or surprise you with their impact. Maybe a person knows more than they have admitted to you. Perhaps a decision has been made without you.

Card 4:  Advice

To facilitate the outcome predicted in card seven, this advice should be heeded or not, depending on the wanted outcome.

Card 5:  Your Influences or Environment

Your immediate environment, including family, friends and home, which can influence you on this issue. Sometimes they can be helpful or hurtful.

Card 6:  Obstacles

These mental or physical barriers must be overcome in order to resolve the situation.

Card 7:  The Likely Outcome

The most likely solution to your question, based on what was suggested by the fourth & sixth card.

Remember, this is only one possible future, among many, that are possible in your life. What is being suggested in these readings is that if you were to follow (or to not follow) the advice, the future outcome will change.

Just like anything involving the unknown forces of nature, forces have their ways of messing with our heads. If the layout makes no sense for the question being asked, reshuffle and ask again.

Here are a couple of examples of how this layout can be interpreted.

Should I change careers?


Should I change careers?


  1. Past -Hearts 10 = Peace.
  2. Present – Diamonds 2 = Work success.
  3. Future – Spades 10 = Loss, depression, broken goals.
  4. Advice – Diamonds A = New business or social affairs.
  5. Influence – Spades King = have brown to black hair and dark eyes. They are usually in some form of authority, gives good advice, witty, helpful, yet, not too family orientated.
  6. Obstacles – Spades 3 = Separation from a loved one, or possible fighting.
  7. Outcome – Clubs 2 = Copping with two problems, need to make decision.

Fortune = So far, you have had happiness and success at work, however it is not fulfilling. A dark-haired gentleman may be able to help you with a new career, but not without some problems at home or traveling. In the end you must choose if you enjoy your work success without fulfillment over domestic peace to reach goals.

Should I continue the friendship?


Should I continue this friendship?

  1. Past – Clubs 7 = Growth through hard work.
  2. Present – Spades 5 = Lack of sensitivity, possibly a theft.
  3. Future – Spades 8 = Inability to think clearly.
  4. Advice – Hearts Queen – have light to medium brown hair and hazel eyes. They tend to be family orientated, happy, romantic, artistic and reliable
  5. Influence  – Spades 9 = Sorrow, misery, sad circumstances.
  6. Obstacles – Hearts 5 = Divorce, loss of a loved one.
  7. Outcome – Clubs 10 = Secure; yet feeling detached.

Fortune: You’ve known this friend for many years and have worked hard at the relationship. Perhaps you’ve felt like the friendship has been one-sided and you’re the one doing all the giving. This has bugged you for awhile. A wise woman (Mom, Aunt, boss) has told you this friend is not good for you, but you don’t want to believe it. In the end, if you choose to detach yourself from this friend, you will feel better about yourself and have less stress, but miss them terribly.

Interpretations of the cards:

Each card has a specific meaning and has to be interpreted with the reader’s mind just as much as the written meaning. Each suit represents four areas in life. Aces are low, and low cards symbolize a beginning, as opposed to a ten representing more of a conclusion. Face cards have the same meaning as before, representing people as opposed to events.

Face Cards:

There are four elements to work with; age, gender, hair/eye color and personality. Kings represent mature men, Queens represent mature women, and Jacks represent children of both genders. I go with the personality over the looks if someone splits the difference here. IE, I am a redhead with green eyes, however I am not family orientated. I choose myself to be a Queen of Spades for this reason.

♥ Heart personas have light to medium brown hair and hazel eyes. They tend to be family orientated, happy, romantic, artistic and reliable.

♦ Diamonds have fair hair and blue eyes. Their personalities are more business orientated, attractive, impetuous, and strong.

♠ Spades have brown to black hair and dark eyes. They are usually in some form of authority, gives good advice, witty, helpful, yet, not too family orientated.

♣ Clubs have white or dark hair, any color for eyes. Their personalities tend to be patient, strongly intellectual, creative, serious, secure, and moody.

The following lists the meanings to the rest of the cards:

Hearts meaning love and happiness:

A = New happiness and joy. Spiritual insight into new or present home.

2 = Love between a man and woman, new relationship.

3 = Marriage, good tidings, possible pregnancy.

4 = Boredom, lack of motivation.

5 = Divorce, loss of a loved one.

6 = New job or meeting an old friend.

7 = Difficulty in making a choice.

8 = Searching for a deeper meaning to things.

9 = Wishes will come true.

10 = Peace.

Diamonds symbolizing enterprise and distinction.

A = New business or social affairs.

2 = Work success.

3 = Someone offers help.

4 = Job well done.

5 = Stress, possible competition.

6 = Good news coming, success is near.

7 = Job pressure, inner strength.

8 = Business trip or messages coming soon.

9 = Maintaining control but shaky.

10 = Under pressure and experiencing life changes.

Spades represents struggle and animosity:

A = Successes are starting to begin.

2 = Stalemated in your decisions.

3 = Separation from a loved one, or possible fighting.

4 = Time to plan for the future.

5 = Lack of sensitivity, possibly a theft.

6 = Journey, moving on with future plans.

7 = Plans not working out as expected.

8 = Inability to think clearly.

9 = Sorrow, misery, sad circumstances.

10 = Loss, depression, broken goals.

Clubs denote money interests:

A = Beginning of prosperity.

2 = Copping with two problems, need to make decision.

3 = Well informed.

4 = Strong pursuit of materialistic endeavors.

5 = Review what’s happening in life.

6 = Promotions, fruits of labor enjoyed.

7 = Growth through hard work.

8 = Stability or possible schooling.

9 = Seeking goals, feeling of being incomplete.

10 = Secure; yet feeling detached.

Telling the future does have its rewards, yet it always should be respected as the gift it is. The future that’s foretold isn’t always the way things turn out. The cards will offer one story to the query’s life, but its up to the person to make it come to pass….. or not.
© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Sunrise, Sunset – Why They Are So Colorful!


Early Sunrise



The sun produces a wide range of frequencies, with a number of these frequencies falling within the visible light spectrum that humans are able to see. Since sunlight consists of light with a wide range of visible light frequencies, it appears white. The interaction of visible light and matter will result in the absorption of specific frequencies of light. The frequencies of visible light that are not absorbed are either transmitted (by transparent materials) or reflected (by opaque materials). To explain this theory, consider a green leaf on a tree, the atoms of the chlorophyll molecules in the leaf are absorbing most of the frequencies of visible light (except for green) and reflecting the green light to our eyes. The leaf therefore appears green. Another example would be to view the black asphalt street, the atoms of the asphalt are absorbing all the frequencies of visible light and no light is reflected back to our eyes. The asphalt street thus appears black (the absence of color). In this manner, the interaction of sunlight with matter contributes to the color appearance of our surrounding world.
The appearance of the sun changes with the time of day. While it may be yellow during midday, it gradually changes color as it approaches sunset. This is called ‘Light Scattering’. As the sun approaches the horizon line, sunlight must traverse a greater distance through our atmosphere.

sun rays

As the path that sunlight takes through our atmosphere increases in length, visible light (ROYGBIV) shines through more atmospheric particles. This results in the scattering of greater and greater amounts of yellow light. During sunset hours, the light passing through our atmosphere to our eyes tends to be most concentrated with red and orange frequencies of light. For this reason, the sunsets have a reddish-orange hue. The effect of a red sunset becomes prominent if the atmosphere contains more particles. The presence of sulfur aerosols that are produced as an industrial pollutant and by volcanic activity in our atmosphere contributes to some magnificent sunsets. Although it also means we have some very serious environmental problems.



Sunset, that same day.

A fav song of mine:

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset
Swiftly go the days
Sunrise, sunset, you wake up then you undress
It always is the same
The sunrise and a sun sets
You are lying while you confess
Keep trying to explain
The sunrise and the sun sets
You realize and then you forget
What you have been trying to retain

But everybody knows it’s all about the things
That get stuck inside of your head
Like the songs your roommate sings
Or a vision of her body as she stretches out on your bed
you raise her hands in the air
Ask her ‘When was the last time you looked in the mirror?
Cause you’ve changed, yeah, you’ve changed

The sunrise, the sunset, you’re hopeful and then you regret
The circle never breaks
With a sunrise and sunset, there’s a change of heart or address
Is there nothing that remains?
For a sunrise or a sunset, you’re manic or you’re depressed
Will you ever feel ok?
For a sunrise or a sunset, your lover is an actress
Did you really think she’d stay?
For a sunrise or a sunset, you’re either coming or you just left
But you’re always on the way
Towards a sunrise or a sunset, a scribble or a sonnet
They are really just the same
To the sunrise or the sunset, the master and his servant
Have exactly the same fate
It’s a sunrise and a sunset, from a cradle to a casket
There is no way to escape
The sunrise or the sunset, hold your sadness like a puppet
Keep putting on the play

But everything you do is leading to the point
Where you just won’t know what to do
And the moment that you’re laughing
There is someone there who will be laughing louder than you
So it’s true, the trick is complete
You’ve become everything you said you never would be
You’re a fool, you’re a fool

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset
The sunrise and the sun sets
Sunrise, sunset, the sunrise, the sun sets
The sunrise, the sun sets

Sunrise, sunset, go home to your apartment
Put the cassette in the tape deck
And let that fever play.

Lyrics by: Bright Eyes

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Know, Know, Know Your Oaks

I was taught this song in my college trees class. The student that shared it with the class said she had learned it Girl Scouts.
There are several species or types of oaks. The White Oak is the state tree of Illinois, among other states. Sing this song to the tune of “Row, row, row your boat” to try to identify what type of oak you are looking at. The branching structures will match the song.

musicKnow, know know your oaks,

Look at how they grow

Red Oak (make a ‘V’ with your arms above your head)

red oak

White Oak (hold your arms straight out from your shoulders)

white oak

Pin Oak (make an upside down “V” with your arms pointing toward the ground)

Quercus palustris

Bur Oak (make your arms twist in different directions)

Quercus macrocarpa

And the acorns down below! (wiggle your fingers and point to the ground)

Photo credits: David Lee, Bugwood.org & David Stephens, Bugwood.org

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS Lawn Fungus

Common Signs of Lawn Fungus Diseases

  • Spots and patches
  • Underdeveloped growth
  • Bleached or light colored turf
  • Shredded or curled grass blades
  • Circular lesions on the blades
  • Dark growth at the base/thatch line

In general, the damage from a fungus will be circular. Correctly identifying the damage is crucial. For if the damage is actually grubs, treating them with fungicide won’t work, duh! Fungi that damage the lawns are parasitic and steal nutrients from grass, which causes it to decline, turn colors or in some cases die. When a fungal spore encounters a host in the right environmental conditions think: pathogen + environment + host =  disease disease Triangle

Common Lawn Fungus Diseases

snow mold

Pink Snow Mold – White to pink fungal growth that feels slimy, favored by abundant moisture.

gray snow mold

Gray Snow Mold – White to gray fungal growth that may form large irregular patches, favored by abundant moisture or snow cover.

yellow patch

Yellow Patch – Circular patches of light tan to brown grass, favored by cool, wet conditions.










brown spt

Brown Patch – Circular, light brown patches, favored by moist conditions or areas that remain wet.

necrotic spot

Necrotic Patch – Circular yellow patches or tan to brown grass, favored by cool, wet weather.

red thread

Red Thread/Pink Patch – Small, light pink to red patches, favored by cooler weather and moist conditions.


Rust – Small, yellow flecks on leaves, sometimes enlarged to form rust-colored pustules, favored by moderately warm and humid conditions or stressed turf.

dollar spot

Dollar Spot – Circular patches with reddish-brown borders, favored by humidity.

fairy ring

Fairy Ring – Circular patches of dark green, often enlarged into rings, favored by mild temperatures and moisture, and sometimes in dry, hot conditions.
















Changing your lawn care habits might reduce your risk of fungi problems. A healthy lawn has a really good chance of pulling through a fungal infection, but that is up to you!

  • Water your grass regularly, but don’t water it too much because waterlogged grass invites fungi. Don’t set your irrigation and not monitor it.
  • Dry grass can also makes your lawn more susceptible.
  • A one time, nitrogen-based fertilizer applied in the fall supplies your grass with the nutrients it needs to flourish.
  • When you mow, don’t remove more than one-third of the length of the blades of grass at a time. A healthy length for grass (from the thatchline) is 3 inches tall.

Generally, a homeowner doesn’t have many choices in the self-help isle of the Big Depot. You also don’t go to the store until you notice there is a fungus among-us in your lawn. There are many products, however most home-use products will cure most fungi. ALWAYS read the labels thoroughly.

The first thing you must do is to cure or the CURATIVE treatment. Which, in general, is either a stronger mixture, applied more often or both than the PREVENTATIVE. Be aware, you will need to apply this curatively, every 3 weeks, preventatively, every 4-5 weeks.

Organically, I’ve heard of putting corn meal on the lawn. I’ve got no experience using this. Has anyone tried this??

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Camerone Settings

I’ve only just begun to understand the settings on my camerone or camera phone. I’ve never been too concerned with the quality of my photographs. As long as everyone has their eyes open, no extra neck rolls or heads cut off, it was a ‘take-print‘ in my opinion!

Now that I’ve been trying to amass a collection of plant photos, I’m more concerned with getting it right. I also need to practice, as speed is sometimes necessary when you’re pulled over on the side of the road, dragging a reluctant husband for a walk or sneaking onto someone’s property!

lacy tomatillo

NO effect

I thought this tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) that had a beautiful lace cover was a great subject to practice some of the effect settings. These were the easiest to play with. My next lesson will deal with the stuff that requires a bit more brain power.. Like F stops and speeds… What? Brain power on E!

lacy tomatillo









Faded Color

tomatillo art


tinted tomatillo


cartoon Tomatillo


moody tomatillo


tasty tomatillo


oil pastel tomatillo

Oil Pastel

fisheye tomatillo


© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Learn The Basics of Being Organic


I really like Earth Tone Products

Gardeners face the decision to continue using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, or to embrace organic methods. Some landscapers and clients either do not understand the benefits of organics, or possibly they like the simplicity and speedy results of a synthetic.  However, some are realizing the benefits of organics and not only are they better for the environment, they have longer lasting results, and tend to run cheaper in the end.

With the availability of information on the internet, many organic home remedies can be found. One should be cautious as to where they are getting their information as many recipes sound good, but do not work. Websites with the suffix of .gov, .edu, and .org normally are trusted sources, but some .com’s are great, such as gardensalive.com has many useful organic products the author has used with much success.

Many organic techniques embrace simple ingredients, specific control of pests, and many choices of methods of application. Most of these solutions are fairly common sense based.

  • There are oil-based products that are used to suffocate small insects.
  • Garlic, onion, and red peppers all have an acidic or burning type action on soft-bodied pests.
  • Mechanical removal of pests is the simplest (but time-consuming) of all.

There are many specific control methods available in organics, here are a few:

  • Saccharopolyspora spinosa is a biological control for leaf eating insects, and safe for beneficials.
  • Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is another biological control for caterpillars and hornworms.
  • Trichogramma larvae, ladybugs, and lacewings all seek out bad insects and either eat or utilize the pests for nurseries.

With organics, there is not a huge concern about over-lapping techniques or mixing some products together like with synthetics. As with combining hot peppers (or another ingredient) with a small amount of vegetable oil can help keep the ingredient where treatment is necessary.

Some organic methods are discovered by accident. In the late 19th century, vineyards of the French region of Bordeaux were struck with large outbreaks of powdery mildew. Botany professor, Pierre-Marie-Alexis Millardet of the University of Bordeaux, began looking for a cure. His research found vines closest to the roads were unaffected by the mildew. It seems vineyard owners were loosing crops to bypasser’s snacking, and applied a visible, bitter-tasting copper / lime mixture to deter this. Millardet, with the help of Ernest David (technical director of the vineyard, Chateau Dauzac), published finding in 1885, to recommend this mixture to combat the downy mildew. Though dubbed the “Bordeaux mixture”, it is also known as the Millardet-David treatment.

Residents and landscapers will need to learn about and utilize organics in the near future as government restrictions of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides become stricter.