Tag: Spring

13 Illinois Toads and Frogs

Here in the Midwest, you may not be able to see the flowers blooming yet, but you can hear the local residence waking from their long, winter slumber.

Vernal pools have started to form from the melted snow and early spring rainfall that the ground can’t uptake because of the frost line or excessive saturation. These vernal pools (also called ephemeral, temporary, or seasonal ponds) are where many frogs, salamanders and newts call home. These pools provide protection from predators that live in permanent bodies of water including fish, invertebrate predators, and even other amphibians, such as American Bullfrogs and Northern Green Frogs.

Frogs & toads are pretty cool creatures that can survive winters by hibernating and by having antifreeze run through their veins! Terrestrial frogs normally hibernate on land. American toads (Bufo americanus) and other frogs that are good diggers burrow deep into the soil, safely below the frost line. Aquatic frogs such as the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and the leopard frog (Rana pipiens) typically hibernate underwater. Some frogs, such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) and the spring peeper (Hyla crucifer), are not skilled at digging and seek out deep cracks and crevices in logs or rocks, or just dig down as far as they can in the leaf litter.

Most frogs have amazing proteins in their blood, called nucleating proteins, that cause the water in their blood to freeze first. This ice sucks most of the water out of the frog’s cells dehydrating them. Then the frog’s liver starts making large amounts of glucose (a type of sugar) which fills into the cells and plumps them up. The concentrated sugar solution helps avoid additional water from being pulled out of the frog’s cells, which can cause death.

Right now, the majority of calls I hear are from the Western Chorus Frog. I think they sound like the noise made by running your finger over the teeth of a comb. Frogs and toads make many different calls that all sound alike, however mating calls are specific, which are what you will hear in the soundtracks. This is the easiest way to ID frogs, as seeing them at night might nearly be impossible.

Frogs of Illinois:

Western_chorus_frog
Western chorus frog

Western Chorus Frog – Pseudacris triseriata

Wood frog
Wood Frog

Wood Frog – Lithobates sylvaticus

American Toad
American Toad

American Toad – Anaxyrus americanus

Bull Frog
Bull Frog

Bull Frog – Lithobates catesbeianus

Tree Frog
Copes Grey Tree Frog

Copes Grey Tree Frog – Hyla chrysoscelis

Cricket Frog
Cricket Frog

Cricket Frog – Acris crepitans

frog
Eastern Grey Tree Frog

Eastern Grey Tree Frog – Hyla versicolor

Fowlers toad
Fowlers Toad

Fowlers Toad – Anaxyrus fowleri syn. Bufo fowleri 

Green Frog
Green Frog

Green Frog – Lithobates clamitans

Green Frog SOS Call

Northern Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frog

Northern Leopard Frog – Lithobates pipiens

Frog
Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frog – Lithobates palustris

Plaines Frog
Plains Leopard Frog

Plains Leopard Frog – Lithobates blairi

Spring peeper frog
Spring Peeper Frog

Spring Peeper – Pseudacris crucifer

This one has to be my favorite. It’s just so cute!!

Credit: IL D N R for the Frog Calls!

© The Naturarian

Common Snowdrops ~ Galanthus nivalis ~ Blooming 3-23-2019

White snowdrop bulb bloomingWow! A Saturday post! 😉white snowdrop bulb blooming I usually like to collect
my photos on the weekends and post on the weekdays, HOWEVER, this was too awesome to wait!

I noticed this little donation from Mother Nature on the side of my house last year! I didn’t see any in the past, however, it was April 9th when I had discovered them last year. Way later than this year. I hope this is a good sign that things will progress a bit faster this year! Mr. Groundhog is hopefully right.

© The Naturarian

Finally! Happy Spring!

white daisies and light green carnations in a vasecandle, shamrock plant and driftwood on bamboo placematt Mother Nature may not feel the same way, but my calendar tells me it’s so! I really want to burn my winter coat and move south… Reeeeally far south, as most of our nation got to experience winter this year.

Happy Spring to all!!

Remember, I’m still taking orders for Spring Annual Pots! Contact me for a quote.

© The Naturarian

Mr. Robin Singing His Love Song

Let me translate:

Hello my Love, wherever you are!

I will sing until I find you.

I’ll bring you worms and seeds for our babies!

To you I will always be true!!

I’m so happy to see the Robins back! We hoomans like everything in order, which is why we had to place Spring on a calendar. In my opinion, Spring happens when nature tells us its happening!

Have a Happy Spring Everyone!!

Start Thinking About Spring Flower Containers!!

Happy Spring!… ? OK, Really, is it Spring?

No. However I’m optimistic that Woodstock Willie (my local groundhog) got it right, and I’m looking forward to an early spring!

In the meantime, it’s time to start thinking about your outdoor spring container displays. “How early can I plant?” will surely be your next question. Depending on your ‘love and devotion’ level, is how early you can plant. Factors:

  • Availability of plant material? Hard to plant what you can’t get.
  • Is your irrigation turned on? If not, you’ll need to water regularly.
  • A well-watered pot holds heat – water right before a freeze.
  • Fabric (NOT plastic) to cover in case of frost. Be sure to remove the next day.

Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)

Spring flowers such as; Petunias, tulips, hyacinths, primrose, cyclamen, hydrangea, muscari, snap dragons, ranunculus, helleborus, viola, ivy and diacia are just a few cool weather choices.

Give your display a bit of height with pussy willow or forsythia branches. If cut at the right time (pretty much right before placing in display) they will also bloom, adding to the WOW factor.

These flowers will last until the weather turns hot & then it’s time to switch over to your summer display.

I’ll be taking requests from now until April 15th. After that date, most things are so picked over, it’s hard to be creative. You’re also almost into summer pots by then….

Want a FAST quote? Attach a photo in the comments or Email me for a quote!

Anticipated installation start this year is April 1st, possibly one week earlier. This is all based on weather forecasts.

© The Naturarian

Signs of Spring in the Midwest: Yellow Willows (Salix)

One of the first signs of spring (to me) is when the willows start to turn bright yellow. You can’t miss them in the dreary, white, Midwestern landscape.

Some Facts About the Willow (Salix):

  • When compared to other trees, life span of a weeping willow is shorter because of its fast growing nature, some don’t thrive past 30 years.
  • They need to be grown in full sun.
  • Their height and width can be 30 to 55 feet. Willows can grow 10 inches in a good growing year.
  • The fruit of the tree is a small brown capsule. It is around half-inch long.
  • The tree is very brittle because it grows quite rapidly.
  • The bark turns reddish/brown during the winter and yellow/green in the spring.
  • Pests like aphids and tent caterpillars can destroy the tree quite quickly. You should frequently check for conditions like powdery mildew, crown gall, and canker.
  • You may cut some branches in spring, remove the bottom leaves and put them in a jar of water. Keep the jar out in the sun. Roots will grow within 15 to 20 days. However, if you want a specific variety, it is better to buy it.
  • Historically, beautiful baskets are woven using willow stems.

Country folk have known the healing properties of willow for a long time. They made an infusion from the bark as a remedy for colds, fevers, and to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism. Young willow twigs were also chewed to relieve pain. In the early nineteenth century, modern science isolated the active ingredient responsible, salicylic acid, which was also found in the meadowsweet plant Filipendula ulmaria. From this the world’s first synthetic drug, acetylasylic acid, was developed and marketed as Aspirin, named after the old botanical name for meadowsweet, Spirea ulmaria. Botanists love to change the names of plants!

Most willow species grow and prosper close to water or in damp places, and this premise is reflected in the legends associated with these trees. The moon too recurs as a theme, the movement of water being intimately connected with and affected by the moon. For example, Hecate the powerful Greek goddess of the moon and of willow, also taught sorcery and witchcraft, and was ‘a mighty and formidable divinity of the Underworld’. Helice was also associated with water, and her priestesses utilized willow in their water magic and witchcraft. The willow muse, called Heliconian after Helice, was sacred to poets, and the Greek poet Orpheus brought willow branches on his adventures in the Underworld. Apollo also gave Orpheus a lyre, and it is interesting to note that the sound boxes of harps used to be carved from solid willow wood.

© The Naturarian