Tag Archive | nature

Wordless Wednesday

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Life imitates art.

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Home Grown Spaghnum Moss?

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If I told you that this was a piece of spaghnum moss harvested from my backyard,  would you think I was crazy?

We have a mat outside our back door–on the north side of the house. It grows  moss like most gardens grow weeds.

One day a week or two ago,  I went out and noticed that the moss had been all disrupted–torn away and was lying in sheets and pieces around the mat. So I picked some up and that’s when I noticed how much like spaghnum this moss was.

It’s so much like spaghnum in fact  that I brought some of the more disrupted pieces in and put them in my orchids. No point in wasting them.

I suspect that squirrels or more likely chipmunks had been digging around in the moss to get to seeds or acorns or both that had fallen on the moss and the mat. I don’t think squirrels or chipmunks care about moss.

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I adore it–but on the other hand, I tried to tamp the larger sheets of it back into place. (Notice all the mast around the moss on this mat, by the way). If I actually thought I was growing my own spaghnum,  I would have entirely different ideas about using it!

The Mess is in the Eye of the Beholder

My last two posts have talked about sustainable garden clean up.  What does the garden look like if you do this?

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Here’s what you might see under my hydrangeas right now. Why is this good? All sorts of critters are enjoying this–chipmunks, squirrels and blue jays–and no one’s harming the plants.

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Want some more of a mess? This is what’s under our row of white pines. I counted 10 different bird species enjoying this–not counting the chipmunks and squirrels,  of course.

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And for a real mess, here’s one of the gardens that hasn’t been touched in over 2 years (except of course to be accidentally sprayed by herbicide in that poisoning incident.) These gardens are really dry–we haven’t had any rain for almost a month.

But this garden, for the most part, is usually full of lush hydrangeas so what you are seeing is hidden. Not so bad, is it?

Wordless Wednesday–Camouflage

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Rarely do I get to just sit and observe.  And when I do, I find that nature is often wary of being watched.  But these house plants provide great cover!

I hadn’t realized that they make a great screen for bird watching.  Apparently I am much less visible when hiding behind some indoor greenery. You’ll learn what I observed Friday.

It’s Pollinator Week–How Can I Help?

Pollinator Week occurs every year this time.  You can find out more about the initiative at the website, pollinator.org.

It was designed to draw attention to our dwindling pollinators like the monarchs,  originally.  But then bats became affected by white nose syndrome and it became clear that honeybees were in trouble, and our native bees were becoming more scarce and so Pollinator Week has really expanded to include all sorts of pollinators and to bring awareness to ways of gardening and backyard living that can help them.

Another cool thing that Pollinator Week does is draw attention to all the other different types of pollinators besides the ones mentioned above. Birds, flies, beetles, my beloved ants and insects–all of those can be pollinators and some of these can be endangered as well.

So how can you help? First, check out the website.  It will have resources for your part of North America  (sorry if you aren’t in North America–perhaps you recognize some of the plants mentioned for a similar latitude?)

Next, even if you can’t add any plants to your garden, practice responsible pesticide use in the garden you have.  We use no pesticides–& a pesticide is defined as a fungicide,  a herbicide or an insecticide–on our property. We don’t even use algacides in our pond.

But if you do, please use them responsibility.  Read and follow the label directions.  If you are spot treating something,  try to do it at a time when no or few pollinators are present–dusk is often a good time. And that is usually better for the plants (& the gardener) as well since it is cooler and causes less stress.

Finally if you are adding plants, consider natives.  It is a proven fact that they feed all wildlife in all stages of their lives more often than ornamentals.  But don’t feel that you must go crazy.  I will show you why  ( I hope) on Friday.

Sunrise, Sunset

The concepts of sunrise and sunset seem like simple things right?  There’s even been a song written specifically with that title (and I’m sure many others as well on those themes).

But did you know that there are 3 or perhaps 4 sunrises and sunsets a day depending on how you define them?  My husband didn’t. Last fall when he told me to get the time of sunset so that we could go out to dinner with one of our friends who was fasting for Yom Kipper and wanted to be sure not to break his fast too early, everyone was astonished when I asked, “Which sunset?”

One of my favorite weather sites, Weather Underground, gives four times for sunrises and sunsets each day: actual, civil, nautical and astronomical.  Wikipedia only shows three, omitting the actual.  But in reality, the actual can be the most important–that’s when the light from the sun at sunrise actually strikes the earth (as we were taught in school–remember basic earth science?)

So on the day that I drafted this post, February 3, the times for the different sunrises looked like this for my location:

Actual: 7:01 a.m. EST

Civil: 6:32 am EST

Nautical: 5:59 EST

Astronomical: 5:26 EST

The differences can be greater or less depending on your latitude.

But what accounts for the differences between the times?  It is the degree of the sun.  At civil sunrise or sunset, the sun is no more than 6 degrees below the horizon.  The horizon will be clearly defined, and bright stars and planets will be easily observed.

At nautical sunrise or sunset, the sun is between 6 and 12 degrees below the horizon.  The outline of ordinary things (cars, buildings, trees) might be visible without supplemental illumination.

At astronomical sunrise or sunset, the sun is between 12 and 18 degrees below the horizon.  Sky illumination is very faint and might be undetectable.  Ordinary objects are not detectable without illumination.

So there you have it–amaze your friends at cocktail parties or trivial pursuit.