Welcome! My favorite part of this blog is the interactive aspect of it. Double click on the blue title boxes to view the full article and the social media section. That's where you can share, tweet, pin, and best of all, COMMENT. I like comments!

Darrel Morrison and the “Native Flora Garden” in Brooklyn

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Gardeners & Designers, Landscape Architecture, Public Gardens and Parks, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Congratulations to landscape architect Darrel Morrison, a friend to many designers here in Chicago who have known him since he taught at the University of WI Madison, for a wonderful article about his new native-to-NY-area garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [BBG]. Read the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/13/garden/native-flora-garden-opens-at-brooklyn-botanic-garden.html?pagewanted=all

Darrel was starting this garden when I had the opportunity to visit our daughter, Danielle, in Manhattan in 2011. Darrel and I went to dinner and he told me about the fun of going with BBG Curator Uli Lorimer to discover rare plants at the pine barrens in New Jersey, for example. Taking seed from these plants and then assuring their success in Brooklyn meant engineering duplicate soils [isn’t that amazing?], a story broadly told in the article. Read more

Japanese Beetles, Honeybees, Gypsy Moths, and Congress: Which one is not a pest?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Environmental Protection, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

TWG [The Weedpatch Gazette] subscriber Adrienne Fawcett, who nobly publishes news of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff on her blog, Gazebo News, wrote to ask how to control Japanese Beetles on her Knock Out Roses, which are claimed to resist Jap Beetles. So much for truth in advertising…

Japanese beetles on roses

My shoot-from-the-hip answer is, “From your lips, Adrienne, to God’s ears. Ain’t no control except doing what Mom did (so gross, but I do it too). Pick ’em off and throw them in a can of gasoline”. Or, Adrienne, I can suggest this: we once owned a wonderful little chicken named Henrietta, and that bird loved loved loved Japanese Beetles. Sweet lil thing would follow me around, so eager for me to shake the roses. Alas, Henrietta has passed on. She did live a good long life, but could it have been longer if she did not overconsume? No matter, this is what Henrietta and I would say, “eat and be happy”. Also, Adrienne, get yourself some beetle-lovin’ chickens. Read more

Too Much Water and a Cold Snap

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Plants, Uncategorized, Weather | Leave a comment

This morning’s simpering heat, combined with a brief uptick in the wind and quickly clouding dark skies, made it easy to think about the tornadoes that ripped across Oklahoma and Kansas yesterday. Sadly, more tornadoes, hail storms, and slow-moving thunderstorms (ie a lot of rain in one place), including some aimed near Joplin, Missouri and north to Minnesota, may occur today (Monday). Remember that the Chicago region [link to map] is already in a Federal Disaster Zone because of the devastating rain storms of April 18th, just a month ago. Lots of Chicagoans are still mopping up and cleaning out, unfortunately. [Here’s a link about how you can help and/or donate to Chicago flood clean-up efforts by the American Red Cross.]

Profuse blossoms on 2013 fruit trees

Profuse blossoms on 2013 fruit trees

There’s good news and bad news about the amazingly full blossoms you are noticing this year on crabapple trees and other fruit trees. Read more

Hmmm, yes, but what should we do to help?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Plants, Social Impact of Horticulture | 1 Comment

Here’s a link http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=221570 to an article in the Medill Journalism School website. I’m not sure we needed a gigantic study to know that black populations live where there are few trees. The article quotes a representative from Chicago’s Friends of the Parks and I have NO IDEA what that representative meant (if you figure it out, please comment). Anyway, this article makes me think that when nurseries donate trees to communities at the end of the summer season, perhaps instead of donating them to wealthier communities like the one I live in, they should donate them to tree-less communities. This makes me wonder how many nurseries donate trees at all, and where they are going. Does the IL Nurserymen’s Association know? If not, who does? If you are a nursery, do you donate? Do you have a nice story to tell us or a story about why you do not donate trees?## Read more

A Few News Briefs…

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Gardeners & Designers, Historic Places, Landscape Architecture, Plants, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Having grown up in Weston, Connecticut, there are a few East Coast preferences that I will never shake. One is the New York Times. I read it assiduously. So from time to time I’ll post some news and/or links that gardeners, conservationists, environmentalists (yes there is a diff between conservationists and environmentalists), land use planners, and whoever else is reading this blog might be interested in. And please, comment or write a follow up article…this blog is not supposed to be just the Queen Bee sounding off. It is here to exchange information, questions, and great commentary (emphasis on “great”).

Here are some snippets:

  • Sally Jewell is the new 51st Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Who, you ask? Sally Jewell, 57 (young!) former CEO of REI, an outfitting store that is hard not to like. Jewell has no political experience, but she is a mountain climber so that bodes well for running an agency in Washington DC with 70,000 (!) employees, an $11B budget, and stewardship of 20% of the land in the U.S.. Why are you, a mere backyard gardener or landscape professional, interested in Interior? Because the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 designated the country’s newest National Wildlife Refuge, called “Hackmatack”, in McHenry County and overlapping towards Lake Geneva, WI.. You are also interested because Interior administers the Endangered Species Act (thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon, 1973). Also, Interior regulates the private leasing of our national lands for oil wells and the like (pipelines). And it sells Duck Stamps (thanks to Herbert Hoover, 1929) to duck hunters, which raised $700 million for wetland conservation in 2013. Interior makes a difference in each of our lives.
  • Columbus, Indiana, is an “unlikely trove of midcentury modernism”. Oh, how I want to make a road trip here and see not only 70 examples of great architecture, but great landscape architecture. For example, you can tour the 1957 house designed by Eero Saarinaan and Kevin Roche [oooh, a fuchsia conversation pit!] but the gardens designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley. Alas, the Monet water lilies that was in this house was sold in 2008 for $40 million. Did any of you happen to purchase it?
  • A future post will cover the gardening impact of 400 ppm CO2 levels. We know we must plant trees and more trees, but should we be burying the dead ones instead of chipping, burning, or letting them lie on the ground to disintegrate? The latter options are ways to accelerate the release of more carbon. What do you think?

Anywho, this NYTimes article explains that average worldwide warming has now been proved to be 5 degrees, warmer over land (such as Chicago) and even higher at the Poles (15 degrees). Actually, a 2008 article about weeds loving CO2 (REQUIRED READING!) says that the average city condition NOW compared to the suburban temperature is exactly what is predicted worldwide…. This is what I know. There is no question that Santa is shaving his beard cause he’s too hot: the NYTimes reports that in 2010, only four ships carrying 110,000 tons of cargo made the northern passage between Asia and Europe. In 2012, 46 did, carrying 1.3 million tons. Less ice? Scary.##

 

 

 

 

The Baltimore Oriole is Back!

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Thanks to subscriber Nancy Coolley for photographing this stunning Baltimore oriole [Icterus galbula] in her backyard. Look at the clever rig Nancy devised for hanging the oranges. Great idea! And after they eat the oranges in early May, they want a chaser of grape jelly, but how in the world do you hang up the jar?

Baltimore Oriole 5-12-2013 3-28-59 AM 480x360This bird has probably the prettiest nest of all our northern birds. It’s a finely-woven silvery pouch that hangs about 25′ up on the branches of oaks, lindens, elms, maples and birch trees. The Orioles return to the same site year after year. These birds love to eat insects, especially caterpillars (ie tent caterpillars-ugh), aphids, borers (ash borers!), ants and beetles. They also eat the delicious berries of Serviceberry [Amelanchier], red mulberry, wild cherry, and blueberry. By the way, the blueberry is a highly underutilized shrub in the landscape. It is beautiful red in the fall!

The Baltimore oriole is the state bird of Maryland. Why? Because it was named for Sir George Calvert, the first Lord Baron of Baltimore, who thought Maryland (named either for the King’s wife or the mother of Jesus, or both, no one seems to know) would be a fine place for English Catholics such as himself. The colors on his family crest were…orange and black. As it would happen, everyone who arrived from England to work tobacco was either Protestant or criminal, but the English Catholics got to be in charge. Anyway, the good news is that in 1649, Maryland passed the first law ever to guarantee the right to worship regardless of denomination. So whenever you see this beautiful bird, please also appreciate the idea of religious toleration.

Oh, there are three books I like about “birdscaping”: Wild About Birds: the DNR Bird Feeding Guide; Birdscaping Your Garden by George Adams; and The Bird Garden by Stephen W. Kress. Oldies but goodies, just like me.##

 

 

 

Little Bird, Big Threat

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

KildeerThis little Kildeer was very upset with me when I walked too close last evening in the Middlefork Nature Preserve in Lake Forest. He (she?) spread its tailfeathers and kept lurching at me–a sure sign that it wanted me–gone! Story of my life….

Here’s what Cornell says about this ubiquitous shorebird: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer/id. Listen to its call as well. I can’t pick up the sound of “Kil-deer, Kil-deer” but maybe you can?

 

How Many Inches of Rain Does It Take to Fill Lake Michigan?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology | Leave a comment

This morning landscape architect Deidre Toner kindly forwarded information from The Morton Arboretum which said that 17.81″ of rain have fallen there in 2013. In April, the official count was 9.78″ of rain! I got pretty pumped thinking that must mean that Lake Michigan has completely recovered from being two feet below “normal”. But (duh), Queen Bee, think again and maybe have another cuppa coffee this morning. Seventeen inches translates to only two inches spread across Lake Michigan, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. If you are a weather freak, here’s the link to the Corps’ charts on Lake Michigan water levels: http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/Missions/GreatLakesInformation/GreatLakesWaterLevels/WaterLevelForecast/WeeklyGreatLakesWaterLevels.aspx

Erosion on beach at Lake Road 4-19-2013 3-34-56 PM 4320x3240By the way, I’m posting this nasty photograph which shows how a significant slice of beach eroded in Lake Forest after the deluge of April 18, 2013. Water from municipal and private stormwater pipes ran so fast and furious down the narrow ravine leading to this section of beach that it cut this sharp gouge in the sand. There’s much to be done to solve these (highly solveable) erosion problems, but there is a dedicated team of people working on regional solutions. The Alliance for Lake Michigan has produced an excellent ravine webinar. You will not regret spending an hour listening–and if you are a ravine or bluff owner or if you are in the landscape contract and design trade, please sign up for their emails because the Alliance, together with Openlands and “Plants of Concern”, is working on creating brochures of plants appropriate for various ravine conditions, a “rapid response assessment program” for training gardeners in assessing ravine health, and educational ravine seminars at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Thank you, Alliance!##

 

« Previous   1 2 3 4 5