I CAN’T WAIT FOR THEM to announce themselves noisily, though readers have been writing in, expressing varying degrees of cicada anxiety. Brood II of the periodical 17-year cicadas—the brood that returns on that uncanny schedule specifically to parts of the East, from Georgia to Connecticut, are already being sighted where soil temperatures have warmed to the preferred 64 degrees. As with all things, I’m most fascinated by these insects’ role in the bigger ecological picture—besides the sheer magical aspect of witnessing their incredible orgy. Some cicada facts I’ve learned: [read more…]
I share this piece of land I call my garden with an astonishing range of creatures tiny to large: from insects to black bear. I'm (mostly) glad for their company, and always learn something from every encounter.
WHAT NATIVE AMERICAN SHRUB smells like cloves right now, with a profusion of golden flowers, and handsome lobed foliage (which will turn nice warm colors in fall)? Another clue: It would have fruit, too, if you had both a male and a female plant. It’s the clove currant, which I know as Ribes odoratum, and woody plant expert Michael Dirr calls it “a rare gem in the shrub world.” [read more…]
YOU MAY HAVE SEEN bluebirds slugging it out with tree swallows over the season’s lease on a particular nestbox, or a robin flying by with a beak-ful of grass, back and forth and back again to the same spot. Everybody’s nesting—but what’s the best nest material, and to a bird, what’s the definition of prime real estate? In Part 8 of our popular ongoing series, Ellen Blackstone of the BirdNote public-radio program teaches us about the diversity of birds’ nests, helping us understand what’s going on as we look skyward. [read more…]
ALGAE—especially tenacious filamentous string algaes or blanket weed—can quickly turn a water garden into a battleground. I have been enjoying, and managing, two in-ground, rubber-lined garden pools for more than 20 years, and you know what? It’s not that hard, despite the sometimes-tenacious, gooey green stuff. And most important: There is no other feature of the garden that brings more joy—or sustains more wildlife, from birds to dragonflies, salamanders to frogs–than a pool or pond. My essential spring water-garden care tips: [read more…]
A MAJESTIC ANNUAL I loved last year and someone I plan to invite back: the silver-leaf sunflower, Helianthus argophyllus, a native American wildflower of great substance and stature. But why is it so hard to track down seeds or plants of this very tall, multi-branching beauty, with its handsome foliage and extra-long bloom season? It’s worth the hunt, which I’ve been doing this week with both your garden and mine in mind. [read more…]