Covering Ground

Piet Oudolph, photo by Adam Woodruff A Night at the Nature Movies

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 Nix the Knotweed Putting Invasive Knotweed On a Starvation Diet

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 that 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.”

Charlotte Pyle and Donna Ellis teach about invasive plant management. Getting Into the Weeds With Invasive Plant Management

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.” 

Plant Blindness, a Mower, and One Unfortunate Afternoon

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. 

Firefly lights Where did all the fireflies go?

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.

Nature's Best Hope book by Douglas Tallamy Book Review: Nature's Best Hope by Douglas Tallamy

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).

Book Review: "Wilding" by Isabella Tree

A British couple take their land out of conventional agriculture and, partly through necessity, change course towards the little-known and little-understood practice of "rewilding" their land. Over almost two decades, they look backwards to historical practices of farming, hunting, fishing, and animal husbandry to help them resurrect and adapt restorative land practices for the future.

Bee pollinating partridge pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata 12 Native Flowers, Easy from Seed

I vividly recall watching my first marigolds and zinnias sprout, grow, and flower once upon a long-ago summer. As summers came along, I had further easy victories with cosmos, poppies, bachelor’s buttons, nasturtiums, sunflowers, and morning glories. The adults in my life wisely gave me easy seeds. Success bred confidence and good memories.

Chickadee with caterpillar, courtesy Smithsonian public domain Birds, Butterflies, Toads, Turtles: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Many of us remember chasing fireflies on summer nights as children. In our family, it was a Fourth of July ritual. Others wistfully recall listening to hoot-owls, and finding frogs, toads, turtles, newts, salamanders, and, yes, snakes.

Are they gone forever, like childhood? They don't have to be. There are eight ways we can be better neighbors:

screech owl For better tick control, begin with nature

Question: What animals below prey on tick-carrying white-footed mice and other tick-carriers?

A. Owls, hawks, and other birds of prey

B. Foxes, bobcats, fishers

C. snakes

D. opossums

E. all of the above

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