What's one of the very earliest native plants to emerge in southern New England? You guessed it. That funky swamp-life called skunk cabbage. The odiferous blossoms smell mighty good to particular flies and beetles. Those flies offer something to the skunk cabbage, too--pollination.
A mourning cloak butterfly flies on March 21. Early-blooming red maples provide it with nectar.
A long time ago, I saw a tag on a teabag that read, “Calming tea for a nervous world.” I don’t know who wrote that line, but I never forgot it.
I’ve been drinking a lot of tea lately. Luckily I’ve also found a local podcaster, a regional blog, and a book about a neighboring town that help keep me grounded in the workings of the natural world.
According to the Connecticut Trail Census, our small state has more than 2,000 miles of recreational trails. Those are a lot of miles but, until a few years ago, no one was counting trail usage within the state.
In 2016, though, the Connecticut Trail Census pilot program launched. (See cttrailcensus.uconn.edu.)
It’s a sunny 40 degrees outdoors. You decide to take a walk in the woods. It’s winter. Does that guarantee a tick-free walk?
In search of a good documentary, something that both teaches and entertains? I recently reviewed four that I consider well worth the time of anyone interested in plants, landscapes, nature, and ecology.
Suzanne Thompson didn’t wake up on the first day of 2020 thinking about Japanese knotweed. But, after all, it is 2020—and stranger things have happened than the turn Thompson took in May of this year, when she founded an all-volunteer campaign to fight back at that awful plant.
Says Thompson, “We don’t spray it. We cut it.” Then she adds, “We starve it.”
They were innocent-looking seedlings in June, but by the end of August, most weeds are like toddlers on a tantrum—you can't ignore them. Japanese stiltgrass, mugwort, and more all seem to say, "In your face, weed whacker.”
After almost three years of planning and planting, the meadow was coming into its own. The grasses were finally tall and healthy. Flowering plants lit up the field. As a finishing touch, an inviting new walking path had just been created.
Fireflies, a.k.a. lightning bugs, were a big event at Fourth of July picnics during my western Pennsylvania childhood. Our pack of cousins and siblings ran and yelped through the swarms after dark. Fireflies don’t bite, sting, or make noise, so no one stopped us from chasing the tiny lights while adults picked up the day’s picnic and packed the family automobiles.
Some writers have a way of saying things that helps me "get it" the first time. One of those writers is Douglas Tallamy, the University of Delaware professor, entomologist, and ecologist, whose latest book, "Nature's Best Hope" came out late last year. (Timber Press, 2019).