When I meet a new landscape design client, the conversation almost always begins: "I want something really low maintenance."
Plant shopping, anyone? If you want to encourage our bees, butterflies and birds this year, think native plants. Monarch butterflies, for instance, require plants of the milkweed family to complete their life cycles. And--what a bonus--milkweed happens to be very deer-resistant.
I've heard them called ephemerals. Indeed, they tend to be small, bright, and short-lived. Aside from providing us with a pop of color in the still-brown landscape, spring ephemerals provide sustenance to early insects such as queen bumblebees. Ephemerals sprout in unlikely places, peaking out from beneath leaf litter, between tree roots, along streamsides, and in vernal pools.
In the middle of a dry July, wouldn't it be nice to have some rain barrels brimming with H2O? A visit to the Rhode Island Water Lady can make it happen.
I've talked with people who hesitate to go outside, so worried are they of getting another tick bite. It's been almost 40 years since the disease some ticks carry was named for our local town, Lyme, CT. Researchers from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) have investigated the problem for years.
On April 6, 2014, these cedar waxwings were pecking berries left over from the 2013 growing season--our brilliant red native winterberries (Ilex verticillata). The berries are said to be too hard and sour for the birds until about this time of year, late winter, early spring--when most food sources are scarce. It's just one more reason to plant native and let nature do its work.
They're so small, but not so simple. Seeds seem as though they should be easy to buy, but there is actually a lot to know.
They look so innocent and inviting, those little seed packets on retail counters in January, February, and March.
Got snow? As I write, we are near white-out. But I am thinking of seedlings. There are the traditional late winter seedlings, yes, but there are also some outdoor adventures to be had in late winter growing. That's because, as our days get longer and brighter, it's actually possible to begin the planting process.
The soft paws of pussy willow, a small native tree, go hand in hand with late February in the southern New England town where I live. But apparently we'll have to stick to town and city streets to find Salix discolor (its other name), because in a number of places, they are considered almost gone from the wild landscape.