Tag: featured

Trees and Shrubs For Midwestern Clay Soils

Most of the Midwestern area is comprised of clay soils. Never fear! This is a much better situation to have than sandy soils. Clay soils maintain more minerals and moisture than other soils.

Sometimes clay soils can be bad, such as in conditions where there are more problems than just the soil. If while digging in the soil, it looks blueish-black and smells kinda off, this is because of poor drainage and the smell is from rotting organisms. The area should be assessed for drainage problems before anything else is done.

If the clay is a redish-orange, this is perfect as the soil is holding all the minerals plants crave.

With regards to planting woody plants, be sure to plant these correctly and never lower than the top of the roots of the rootball. If you’re at all concerned about the clay content of your soil, plant you woody plant a bit higher. Trust me, they will love you for it!!

  • For perennials for clay soils ~ CLICK HERE

Trees for Clay Soils

Scientific Name Common Name Grow Zone
Abies balsamea Balsam fir 3
Abies concolor White fir 4
Acer freemanii Freeman maple 4
Acer ginnala Amur or ginnala maple 3
Acer platanoides Norway maple 4
Acer rubrum Red maple 3
 Acer saccharinum Silver maple 3
Alnus glutinosa European alder 4
Betula nigra River birch 4
Carpinus caroliniana Blue beech 4
Carya cordiformis Bitternut hickory 4
Carya ovata Shagbark hickory 4
Celtis occidentalis Common hackberry 2
Crataegus species Hawthorn 3-4
Fraxinus nigra Black ash 3
Fraxinus pennsylvanica Green ash 3
Ginkgo biloba Ginkgo 4
Gleditsia triacanthos Common honeylocust 4
Gymnocladus dioicus Kentucky coffeetree 4
Juglans cinerea Butternut 4
Juglans nigra Black walnut 4
Larix decidua European larch 4
Larix laricina Tamarack 2
Malus species Apple, crabapple 3
Phellodendron amurense Amur corktree 4
Picea abies Norway spruce 4
Picea glauca var. densata Black Hills spruce 4
Pinus nigra Austrian pine 4
Pinus strobus White pine 3
Pinus sylvestris Scots pine 3
Pinus ponderosa Ponderosa pine 4
Populus species Aspen, cottonwood 2
Pyrus species Pear 4-5
Quercus bicolor Swamp white oak 4
Quercus macrocarpa Bur oak 3
Salix species Willow 2
Syringa reticulata Japanese tree lilac 4
Tilia species Linden, basswood 3
Ulmus species Elm 4

Shrubs for Clay Soils

Scientific Name Common Name Grow Zone
Amelanchier species Serviceberry 4
Aronia melanocarpa Chokeberry 3
Caragana arborescens Siberian peashrub 3
Cephalanthus occidentalis Buttonbush 4
Cornus alba Tatarian dogwood 3
Cornus alternifolia Pagoda dogwood 4
Cornus racemosa Grey dogwood 3
Cornus sericea Red osier dogwood 3
Diervilla lonicera Dwarf bush-honeysuckle 3
Elaeagnus commutata Silverberry 2
Euonymus alatus Burning bush 3
Forsythia x ‘Meadowlark’ ‘Meadowlark’ forsythia 3
Forsythia x ‘Northern Sun’ ‘Northern Sun’ forsythia 3
Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel 4
Ilex verticillata Winterberry 4
Juniperus species (most) Juniper 3
Physocarpus opulifolius Common ninebark 2
Potentilla Fruticosa Potentilla 2
Rhus species Sumac 2
Ribes alpinum Alpine currant 2
Ribes odoratum Clove currant 2
Rosa rugosa Rugosa rose 2
Salix species Willow 2
Sambucus canadensis American elderberry 3
Spiraea species Spirea 3-4
Symphoricarpos albus White snowberry 3
Syringa species Lilac 2
Thuja occidentalis Arborvitae, white cedar 3
Viburnum dentatum Arrowwood viburnum 3
Viburnum lentago Nannyberry viburnum 2
Viburnum opulus European cranberry bush 3
Viburnum sargentii Sargent viburnum 4
Viburnum trilobum Highbush cranberry bush 2

© The Naturarian

Perennials for Midwestern Clay Soils

Most of the Midwestern area is comprised of clay soils. Never fear! This is a much better situation to have than sandy soils. Clay soils maintain more minerals and moisture than other soils.

Sometimes clay soils can be bad, such as in conditions where there are more problems than just the soil. If while digging in the soil, it looks blueish-black and smells kinda off, this is because of poor drainage and the smell is from rotting organisms. The area should be assessed for drainage problems before anything else is done.

If the clay is a redish-orange, this is perfect as the soil is holding all the minerals plants crave.

The soil should be mixed with a fair amount of compost to help perennials get a good start. If the soil is very compacted, some sand can be mixed it also. Be sure to surround the perennial bed with leaf compost to aid in nutrients getting to the roots and all the other benefits mulch does for plants.

  • For Trees and Shrubs for clay soils ~ CLICK HERE
Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Color Light
Achillea tomentosa woolly yarrow Jun-Jul yellow sun
Achillea filipendulina fernleaf yarrow Jun-Jul yellow sun
Arisaema spp. Jack-in-the-pulpit May-July green/purple shade
Aruncus dioicus goatsbeard Jun-Jul white ps/sh
Asclepias tuberosum butterflyweed Jun-Aug orange et al sun
Astilbe arendsii & var. false spirea, astilbe Jun-Aug white-pink-red ps/sh
Bergenia cordifolia heartleaf bergenia Apr-May pink ps/sh
Brunnera macrophylla Siberian bugloss Apr-May blue ps/sh
Echinacea purpurea purple coneflower Jul-Oct pink sun
Helenium autumnale
‘Moerheim beauty’
Sneezewort Jul-Sept bronze red sun/ps
Heliopsis scabra Heliopsis Jul-Aug yellow sun
Hemerocallis spp. daylily summer many sun/ps
Heuchera hyb. coral bells Jun-Aug white-pink-red sun/ps
Hibiscus spp. rose mallow Jul-Sept white-pink-red sun/ps
Hosta spp. plantain lily Jul-Aug lavender ps-sh
Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’ houttuynia June white sun/ps
Iris sibirica, pseudo-
acorus, versicolor, etc.
Siberian and blue and yellowflag iris variable blue, violet, yellow et al. sun/ps
Liatris spicata gayfeather, blazing star Jul-Aug pinkish sun/ps
Liriope muscari lily turf Aug-Oct lavender-mauve-white ps/sun
Lysimachia spp. Yellow loosestrife, gooseneck loosestrife Jul-Sept yellow-white sun/ps
Perovskia atriplicifolia Russian sage Summer Lavender sun
Primula spp. primroses Mar-Jun many ps/sh
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ Goldsturm rudbeckia July-Sept yellow sun/ps
Salvia spp. salvia, sage Jul-Oct blue-violet sun/ps
Sedum spectabile var. stonecrop, sedum Aug-Oct pink-red sun
Tradescantia virginiana spiderwort Jun-Sept blue-violet-white sun/ps
Yucca filamentosa Adams’s needle summer white sun

© The Naturarian

African Violet’s Boast 10 Months of Blooms!!

African Violets are one of the easiest flowering plants to enjoy inside during the cold weather of the Midwest. With a good initial set-up and some minor care, African Violets will bloom ten months out of the year.

Procuring an African Violet is convenient and low cost. I always goes to the indoor plant section of the Big Box store where the price for one is around $2.50.

African Violets require a special acidic soil that must be kept moist. Because of this, a normal, growing pot is not recommended. There are two types of pots: one type has a pot-within-a-pot soaking in water and the other uses capillary action via a wick within the soil.  I created a system with a glass bowel, decorative rocks, and a terra cotta pot. (see photo)

During the summer months African Violets can be moved outdoors in a partly-sunny location. When the temperatures get below 50F it’s time to bring them inside. Place them in a South or West window for the most available sunlight. Most flowering plants also require a dark period to bloom. Make sure there are no nightlights in the vicinity.

African Violets do not like drafts either, so keep them away from doors, vents, space heaters, and fans.

When it comes to watering, there’s nothing easier than an African Violet. Both type pots have a reservoir that only needs refilling with quality, non-softened water. No guesswork involved.

To help maintain the flowering of the plant, be sure to give is a dose of liquid fertilizer according to the labels directions.

African Violets can bloom 10 months out of the year. Care is the key to keeping it in bloom.

Maintaining a good watering schedule is important. They can go a few days being empty, and it is ok to do that periodically, just not to “droop” status. If the whole plant is drooping, water from above and fully soak pot to revive, careful not to wet leaves.

Always use good water. African Violets like it a bit acidic, and our Midwestern water is alkaline. Bottled or filtered water works well, but room temperature, melted snow is slightly acidic and a better choice if available.

The rocks and outside of the pot need to be rinsed off monthly. Sometimes fungus (green) will begin to grow in the water, or the pot will develop a white film on it. The white film is mineral salts, and needs to be removed. An old toothbrush works without using any soap. It’s OK to let a bit of water to run through the pot, as it rinses the mineral salts thru the soil and out the sides of pot, just keep the leaves as dry as possible.

Prune off the dead flowers with a scissors, don’t pull. Just trim the individual dead flower, as the rest of the main stem might still be blooming. This steps-up additional flower production for the plant.

Remember, it is seriously stressful for the plant to flower (think pregnancy!) So, after a good run of blooming, the plant may chill, and just be green for awhile. Be happy with that, and anticipate blooms after a short rest. Generally, stores sell these in bloom so people would buy them. Don’t be surprised if that rest period comes sooner than expected.

Prune off any bad looking leaves at anytime with scissors.

Talk to your African Violet, it likes to listen to your problems (it also wants your CO2)…

Check the bottom leaves that rest on the edge of the pot, they may get damaged/bent with age. Promptly remove them.

©  The Naturarian

35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

  1. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when the ground is dry.
  2. Use sprinklers that toss big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist can drift onto non-target areas or evaporate before they hit the ground.
  3. Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste. Watering in the evening can leave leaves wet all night, promoting disease problems. Better yet. DON’T WATER THE LAWN AT ALL!!! It doesn’t die, it goes dormant.
  4. Hand-water with a hose where possible. Homeowners who water with a handheld hose can use one-third less water outdoors than those who use automatic sprinklers.
  5. Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps reduce soil compaction from raindrops and helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
  6. Purchase a rain barrel and install below your gutter downspout and you’ll capture a little more than half a gallon of water for every square foot of roof during a one-inch rainfall—that means a 90-square-foot roof would completely fill a 55-gallon barrel! You can use that bounty to water your ornamental garden. Don’t use on your veggies, too many contaminants!!
  7. Plant smart. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plants and irrigation system. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. It will save time, money and water.
  8. Position sprinklers so they’re not watering driveways and walkways.
  9. Adjust your lawnmower to cut grass to a height of 3 inches or more. Taller grass encourages deeper roots and shades the soil to reduce moisture loss.
  10. Start a compost pile or scrape food into the trash instead of running your garbage disposal*, which requires a lot of water to work properly. Use the compost to improve the quality and water holding capacity of your soil. *Save yourself from having the plumber out also!!
  11. Use a timer on hose-end sprinklers to avoid over-watering. 15-20 minutes is generally enough time.
  12. When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
  13. Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
  14. While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
  15. Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
  16. Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as cleaning or watering a plant or garden. For example, collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants; or when cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.
  17. Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use. Micro, drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of water-efficient methods of irrigation.
  18. Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle that can be adjusted so water flows only as needed. When finished, turn the water off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks.
  19. Use hose washers on water hoses and attachments to eliminate leaks.
  20. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.
  21. Verify that your home is leak free. Homes can have hidden water leaks that may be noticeable indoors, but outside can go undetected. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
  22. Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.
  23. Go with splashes of color instead of mass plantings of annuals. Yes, they’re beautiful, but annuals (such as petunias and impatiens) typically require more water than most perennials.
  24. Rethink your lawn layout. If you live in a dry climate, you’ll need a lot of sprinkler activity to maintain a huge grassy swath. Consider replacing it with decorative gravel, which also reduces runoff.
  25. Collect shower/bath “warm-up” water in a bucket for use in watering plants
  26. Use water from dehumidifiers to water indoor and outdoor plants. You can also collect condensation water from air conditioning units to use for watering plants.
  27. Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.
  28. Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.
  29. If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption. A heavy layer of thatch can be hydrophobic, so de-thatching might help.
  30. Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the sprinkler heads in good shape. Check your timing devices regularly too to be sure they operate properly.
  31. Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. I recommend 1′ of water per week.
  32. Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.
  33. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.
  34. Wash your car and pets on the lawn, and you’ll water your lawn at the same time.
  35. Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.

reduce-your-use-e1518218433850.jpg

© The Naturarian

Poison Ivy – Leaves of Three, Let Them Be – Leaves of Five, Let Them Thrive!!

Leaves of three, let them be… Leaves of five, let them thrive!

flowering poison ivy
Blooming Poison Ivy

Although us horticulturist know better.. they are really leaflets, as it is a compound leaf. I don’t want to mess with the original poetry, so whatever keeps you away from this itchy stuff, I’ll continue to chant!

parthenocissus quinquefolia
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Many of you may not have heard the last part of this saying, but it is to prevent the beautiful, native vine, Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) from being lumped in with poison ivy. They both also have beautiful red, fall coloring.

I’ll discuss some of the look alikes and general areas it can be found. This guide will hopefully help you avoid this itchy plant!

Poor Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema atrorubens)… He likes to grow in all the same areas poison ivy grows. Later on after he blooms, he doesn’t resemble it as much.

Trillium does have three leaves and blooms about the same time as poison ivy, although most seasoned hikers can distinguish it. This one only fools the newbies!

Arisaema atrorubens
Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema atrorubens)
trillium
Trillium sessile

The winning doppelganger comes in the form of a box elder (Acer negundo). This weed tree is very prolific and seedlings sprout up very easily. When they are seedlings, they have a striking resemblance to the poison ivy leaf, without the red stem tho, that’s the tell. As they grow, they develop another set of leaves (leaflets) which would bring the total to 5 leaflets, thus lighting the way to pull this weed. Ok, maybe we do need to work on that poem….

Acer negundo
wpid-20140601_132914_richtonehdr.jpg
Boxelder

Where To Find It:

Poison ivy is found in our Midwestern forests & natural areas. It can be a small shrub, ground cover, but mostly seen here as a vine, in shadier areas, growing on the north side of trees. It likes wetter areas, but can tolerate drier soils.

Poison ivy’s leaf shapes vary from smooth and round, to narrow and sharp, with any number of lobes. Lobes can be sharp or rounded. Lobes may be symmetric or asymmetric on the same leaf, or within the same group of leaves. The leaves are often a reddish or brownish color when they are very young and in fall they turn yellow/red like other fall foliage. The stem in the location of the three leaves tends to be redder. Arisaema atrorubens

Why You Itch:

blooming poison ivy
Blooming Poison Ivy

Poison ivy’s main component that causes the skin irritation is Urushiol. It is an oily resin that is found on the stems and leaves of poison ivy and several other related species. It causes contact dermatitis — an immune-mediated skin inflammation. This oily ingredient can even cause irritation during the winter!

Ironically, animals are immune to the oils, deer feed on the leaves and birds use the vine as living spaces along with eating the berries in fall. They do not have any reactions to the oily resin, contrary to humans. However, the oils can be transferred from your dog to your hands if you pet them.

Eh Gads, I’m Up To My Elbows! Now What?

As soon as you notice your mistake… TAKE ACTION! Speed is of the essence. The less oils you can have soak into your skin, the better.

Many washes are available. These should be brought with you hiking. Zanfel has worked great for our crews. The wash works by surrounding urushiol and bonding with it, enabling it to be rinsed away with water.

jewel weed
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Another folk remedy is to smash the stems of Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and apply to skin. Luckily, they tend to grow near each other!

Other methods of relief.

  • Cool colloidal oatmeal baths
  • Cold, wet compresses that can be applied for 15 to 30 minutes a few times each day
  • Anti-itch creams, such as Calamine Lotion, Caladryl Clear Topical Analgesic Skin Lotion, or Aveeno Anti-Itch Cream with Natural Colloidal Oatmeal, zinc oxide,
  • Oral antihistamines such as Atarax (hydroxyzine), Benadryl or prescription strength.
  • Oral steroids, such as Orapred or Prednisone.
  • Topical steroid creams.
  • A steroid shot, Kenalog (triamcinolone acetonide)

Without further adieu, here is my Poison Ivy Gallery:

flowering ivy
Blooming poison ivy
Growing up a tree trunk.
Growing up a tree trunk.
Close - up.
Close – up.
https://i2.wp.com/naturarian.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/wpid-20130829_0900231.jpg
Poison ivy berries
fall
Fall color

 

Sunrise Sunset – Why Are They So Colorful?!!?

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Early Sunrise
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Sunrise

The sun produces a wide range of frequencies, with a number of these frequencies falling within the visible light spectrum that humans are able to see. Since sunlight consists of light with a wide range of visible light frequencies, it appears white. The interaction of visible light and matter will result in the absorption of specific frequencies of light. The frequencies of visible light that are not absorbed are either transmitted (by transparent materials) or reflected (by opaque materials). To explain this theory, consider a green leaf on a tree, the atoms of the chlorophyll molecules in the leaf are absorbing most of the frequencies of visible light (except for green) and reflecting the green light to our eyes. The leaf therefore appears green. Another example would be to view the black asphalt street, the atoms of the asphalt are absorbing all the frequencies of visible light and no light is reflected back to our eyes. The asphalt street thus appears black (the absence of color). In this manner, the interaction of sunlight with matter contributes to the color appearance of our surrounding world.
The appearance of the sun changes with the time of day. While it may be yellow during midday, it gradually changes color as it approaches sunset. This is called ‘Light Scattering’. As the sun approaches the horizon line, sunlight must traverse a greater distance through our atmosphere.

sun rays

As the path that sunlight takes through our atmosphere increases in length, visible light (ROYGBIV) shines through more atmospheric particles. This results in the scattering of greater and greater amounts of yellow light. During sunset hours, the light passing through our atmosphere to our eyes tends to be most concentrated with red and orange frequencies of light. For this reason, the sunsets have a reddish-orange hue. The effect of a red sunset becomes prominent if the atmosphere contains more particles. The presence of sulfur aerosols that are produced as an industrial pollutant and by volcanic activity in our atmosphere contributes to some magnificent sunsets. Although it also means we have some very serious environmental problems.

 

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Sunset, that same day.

A fav song of mine:

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset
Swiftly go the days
Sunrise, sunset, you wake up then you undress
It always is the same
The sunrise and a sun sets
You are lying while you confess
Keep trying to explain
The sunrise and the sun sets
You realize and then you forget
What you have been trying to retain

But everybody knows it’s all about the things
That get stuck inside of your head
Like the songs your roommate sings
Or a vision of her body as she stretches out on your bed
you raise her hands in the air
Ask her ‘When was the last time you looked in the mirror?
Cause you’ve changed, yeah, you’ve changed

The sunrise, the sunset, you’re hopeful and then you regret
The circle never breaks
With a sunrise and sunset, there’s a change of heart or address
Is there nothing that remains?
For a sunrise or a sunset, you’re manic or you’re depressed
Will you ever feel ok?
For a sunrise or a sunset, your lover is an actress
Did you really think she’d stay?
For a sunrise or a sunset, you’re either coming or you just left
But you’re always on the way
Towards a sunrise or a sunset, a scribble or a sonnet
They are really just the same
To the sunrise or the sunset, the master and his servant
Have exactly the same fate
It’s a sunrise and a sunset, from a cradle to a casket
There is no way to escape
The sunrise or the sunset, hold your sadness like a puppet
Keep putting on the play

But everything you do is leading to the point
Where you just won’t know what to do
And the moment that you’re laughing
There is someone there who will be laughing louder than you
So it’s true, the trick is complete
You’ve become everything you said you never would be
You’re a fool, you’re a fool

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset
The sunrise and the sun sets
Sunrise, sunset, the sunrise, the sun sets
The sunrise, the sun sets

Sunrise, sunset, go home to your apartment
Put the cassette in the tape deck
And let that fever play.

Lyrics by: Sheldon Harnick

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Successful Gardening Requires Good Organization

garden guide
The 3-Ring bible of my yard.

Staying organized is an important part of successful gardening. Utilizing the off-season to organize affords more time during the growing season to dedicate to the plants. It also helps me pass the long, dark months of winter!

Start by creating something to accumulate records in such as a 3-ring binder, calendar or file box. Training oneself during the growing season to take quick notes, photos and to keep the information together (I have a basket I throw it all in).

Information that should be recorded:

  • Planting dates with the receipt – some nurseries offer a 1-year warranty
  • After replacing store tags with longer lasting ones, write the install date on it
  • Photos should be downloaded, printed and identified
  • Vegetable plot layouts – as crop rotation is essential
  • Names and locations of seeds collected
  • Ornamental layouts to help with identification
  • Annuals that have worked in the past and flat quantities
  • Insect and disease problems, along with remedies used in the past
  • Plants to thin and share with others
  • Note of fertilization times – not just a date, but the surrounding conditions and weather as well
  • Overwintered bulb names can be directly written on with water soluble pen
  • Pest spray times [although not calendar specific] for reminders

Labeling plants within the garden helps develop identification skills & saves memory cells 😉 Labels can be ready-made ceramic, bamboo, metal, actual seed packets or cut up plastic recyclables into strips. Labels should always be placed similarly such as always at the north side of the plant to easily find them later. When attaching a tag to a plant using a wire or string, don’t strangle the branch, apply loosely to allow for growth.

Another great way to keep organized is to start a garden blog! Take photos of each area of your garden on a scheduled basis. If you’re really ambitious, take photos of each plant. Even if you don’t know the name of the plant, by publishing the photo, someone may comment the name. WordPress is a great (free) platform to use for this. (WP did not pay me to write that!)

Lastly, if you are in Northeastern Illinois or Southern Wisconsin, you can take advantage of a coaching session with me that can produce a list of your plants, along with gardening tasks and when to perform them. Please click the following for a sample report ~~> Advanced Coach Notes

© The Naturarian

Dark-Eyed Juncos – Junco hyemalis

Juncos are one of my favorite birds. They are small-sized sparrows that only winter in my area and summer in Northern Canada. Their darker tops vary from dark brown to smokey gray. They are ground feeders and don’t usually land on feeders. They will take seed off my windowsill, though. They like the black oil sunflower seeds I offer.

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Most of the time they are seed eaters, unless they are feeding their young. Then they will switch to insects.

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© The Naturarian

Why Tree Surveys and Inventories are Important

Tree surveyTrees are an essential part of the human world as they provide us food and shelter, clean our environment and calm our restless spirits. Many municipalities have not embraced the benefits of trees into their economic sphere, which hurts cities from receiving grant monies and federal or state funds, which would better the community.

Tree inventories are one way of keeping track of the benefits trees give back to the earth, along with records to aid in the maintenance, upkeep and diversity of the monitored forest. Urban forest inventories provide a unique advantage to foresters, as many of the trees are within an area where many people live. Information is easier to obtain when more people are involved. Armed with information such as; reduction of air pollution, carbon storage, energy savings, functionality, and monitory worth, urban foresters could influence unaware politicians to the monitory worth of trees. When trees (or anything) become worth money, more people pay attention to them.

People do care about trees in one way or another, some care for their beauty and values; others are only concerned if they will fall on their home. The information gathered during an inventory could make homeowners’ properties more valuable and species data could warn homeowners of potential failure due to a pest or disease. Whatever the reason, it would be to a municipalities benefit to conduct tree inventories to satisfy both sides and to improve the urban forest.

Although there are many ways to conduct an inventory (partial, complete or sample), within a municipal forest, a complete inventory should be a goal. To achieve the goal of a full inventory, a city must try to involve the people living within the community in conducting it. Nonprofessionals can also utilize the inventory tools currently used by professional, urban foresters.

Handheld GIS (Geographic Information Systems), smartphones and android apps have made tree identification, location and inventory easier for all involved; and all are inexpensive. Combining these tools with community outreach programs to inform the public about the benefits of trees can gain funds useful to all the citizens in the area.

In the past, many citizens have voted for tax monies to be invested into forest preserves, reforestation of local parks and right of ways. Another possible process to produce a complete inventory (though it is a slow one) would be to add a tree survey requirement along with the land survey done when a property is selling. Opposed to enacting a tax, funding could possibly be raised from grants to offset the cost.

© The Naturarian