Like so many things in life, how we see something really defines our perspective and overall view on life. In the horticultural world, all too often insect damage to landscape plantings guarantee a phone call demanding service. But if we shift our perspective, or perhaps just simply how we view the situation, then we can take a moment and celebrate the world we live in. The attached photos were recently received from a client. But this time, no calls for service- no screams to kill the bugs eating her plants- rather- she was bragging! After all, she should be! A year ago we started the process to transform her rear yard into a lawnless garden loaded with a blend of native pollinators species and classic horticultural go to’s. Mixed among the Hydrangea and Boxwood is a healthy dose of natives- most notably – Swamp Milkweed, Coreopsis and Coneflower.
She called early summer and was thrilled by the presence of finches all over her rear planting harvesting the seeds of Coreopsis and in turn the Coneflower. Completely hooked, she called this morning anxious about her next project – a front yard lawnless makeover including stalwarts and natives. Her perspective modulation is complete- it is all natural of course for a science teacher to practice what she preaches. Wait until the garden busts out next spring- then it will be a chance for the neighbors to consider their perspectives!
We are often asked how bad are invasive species and do we really need to control them? The first question, what might qualify as an invasive species? The non natives like Bush Honeysuckle and Japanese Honeysuckle are easy to identify as invasives. After that, it kind of becomes an “In the eye of the beholder” kind of thing. We are currently working with the Corps of Engineers to help control some of their “invasives.” In this case, that includes Serecia Lespedeza in addition to Winged Sumac & Honeylocust. The photo reveals the technique for getting on top of the sumac, notice the sea of Lespedza the driver of the UTV is navigating to get the applicator on target. Yes, invasive species are for real!
The Passion Vine: Young botanists and taxonomists work hard to learn the basics to identify plants. Looking for rules often help – for example – flowers which have three of something tend to be monocots. Flowers which are four or five merous tend to be dicots. These early characteristics aid greatly in deducing what plant family and genus a specific plant may belong to. Of course as soon as you learn all of these helpful rules for classification and identification, along comes a plant seemingly hell bent on being difficult. Need an example ? I give you the passion flower. Long known for medicinal and spiritual qualities, there is nothing typical of this summer flowering native. The plant has three ovaries, five anthers and seems to carry six petals and sepals. A strange flower for sure. The key though is its nectar is extremely rich in sugar, thus the omni present pollinators. It just all starts to make sense after all.