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Thursday, July 30, 2015

TURNING WASTE URBAN TREES INTO VALUABLE WOOD PRODUCTS

TRUNKS OF CITY TREES KILLED BY INSECTS, DISEASE OR OTHER FACTOR...


... ARE SAWN INTO BOARDS AT THE SAWMILL

...HUGE ELM TRUNK SLABS...
A HUGE SLAB OF BLACK WALNUT, WORTH  SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS...

...HAND CRAFTED INTO  UNIQUE, EXPENSIVE FURNITURE
Thursday,7:00 AM.  Milwaukee.  70 degrees F, wind NW, with moderate gusts.  The sky is clear, the humidity 60%.  The barometer stands at 29.86" and is fairly steady.  It is a beautiful morning.
  The joint Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council and Wisconsin Council on Forestry meeting was very successful and interesting  (sounds redundant, but the Council on Forestry is involved with traditional forestry and the logging industry, and the two groups seldom have much in common). Our combined groups toured several unique lumber mills and sales facilities specializing in the rescue and use of urban trees killed by insects, disease or other factors.
   Until recently such trees ended up in landfills, or perhaps as firewood or wood chips.  Disposal of dead trees has mainly been a budget liability for communities.  But in the last five or ten years there has been a surge of interest in the use of urban trees for high end furniture, hardwood flooring and interior woodwork and cabinetry. Such wood can have great character of grain, color, burls and knots, much in demand for finished woodwork.  There is also an increasing interest in trees that have witnessed community history, and saving them as architectural artifacts incorporated into new buildings.  In essence, a liability is being turned into a resource. The environmental logic of recycling urban trees is very strong, and enough municipalities, lumber mills and arborists are interested in their recycling that it has become a viable business opportunity.
   Leading the charge in this effort has been "Wisconsin Urban Wood,"a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that is a network of municipalities, arborists, furniture makers, builders, architects and businesses that are determined to turn waste wood into useful, economically beneficial and beautiful products.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

BEAR POOP AND "THE POLITICIAN WEED"

BUDY AND A SPOTTED KNAPWEED PLANT...

...WITH THISTLE-LIKE FLOWERS 

. BEAR POOP ON OLD MILITARY ROAD THIS MORNING
Tuesday, 8:00 AM.  73 degrees F at the ferry dock, 68 on the back porch. Wind SSW, calm with occasional light gusts.  The sky has a light, high overcast and lots of haze.  The humidity is 84% and the barometer is taking a nosedive, currently at 29.85".  It feels like rain.
   We have had no evidence of bears in the neighborhood this year until now, but there was a big pile of very fresh bear poop on the road across from the house this morning.  Somebody must be leaving their garbage out, or newly baked pies on the window sill to cool.  From a not-too-close examination of the evidence, it looks like our bruin had been gorging himself on acorns.
   We are taking a little business trip, first to a Wisconsin Urban Foresty Council meeting on Wednesday and then on to Hudson, Wisconsin, to look at an environmental issue.  I will try to post a couple of blogs before we get back to Bayfield on Saturday.  Buddy will spend a few days at the veterinarian's kennel in Ashland, as the weather is too hot to leave him in the truck much.  He won't be too happy about it, but that's life.
   Spotted knapweed, Centaurea stoebe, in the Sunflower (Compositae) Family, is a common thistle-like weed that is very aggressive, particularly on poor soils.  It often forms large patches, and once established can be tough to eradicate because it produces soil toxins which prevent other species from competing with it.  Its flowers are actually quite attractive, but it can be a tough competitor with more desirable native vegetation, and it is on the Wisconsin restricted list of invasive plants.  Some people are allergic to it, so wear gloves when handling it. The best way to keep it out of an existing lawn is to properly water and fertilize lawn grasses, and not mow too short (not less than 2.75"). It should be rouged out of the garden on sight.  Maybe it should be called the politician weed.

Monday, July 27, 2015

SAINT JOHN'S WORT

ST. JOHN'S WORT...

...FLOWERS
Monday, 7:30 AM.  71 degrees F at the ferry dock, 67 on the back porch.  Wind SW, calm to very light  with light gusts.  The sky is clear with some haze, and there is some fog over the water.  The humidity is 86% and the barometer is steady at present, at 29.95".
    St. John's wort is blooming now along the roadsides and in the fields.  There are too many relatively similar species in the genus Hypericum in the St. John's Wort (Guttiferae) Family for me to key them out, but suffice it to say that this is a colorful group of herbaceous plants that can be found almost everywhere in the summer. Common St. John's wort (wort is simply an Old English word for plant), Hypericum perforatum, has long been used in herbal medicine as a calmative, or sedative, to treat mild to moderate depression, and is still so used today.   H. perforatum is of European origin and is a common non-native invasive plant in North America and elsewhere. It is readily available in stores as an herbal product.  I have no personal experience regarding its use, but it reportedly should not be used without medical supervision, as it may interfere with a wide range of prescription medications.  The common name relates to its traditional harvesting on St. John's Day, June 24.  
   The genus also had diverse uses in Native American traditional medicine.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

SMOKE TREE BLOOMING



EUROPEAN SMOKE TREE ON FIRST STREET AND RICE AVE. IN BAYFIELD

...CLOSER VIEW OF HYBRID EUROPEAN SMOKE TREE IN BLOOM

AMERICAN SMOKE TREE (done flowering)

Sunday,  7:30 AM. Wind SSW, very light.  The sky is clear, the humidity 83%.  The barometer is more or less steady, currently at 29.89". It will be a warm summer day.
   The American smoke tree, Cotinus obovata, native to the southeastern US and the Eurasian smoke tree, C. coggygyria, in the Cashew Family (Anacardiaceae) are both quite hardy north. Cotinus is closely related to the Rhus (sumac) species. The American Cotinus species would probably not be much planted except that it has in the past been one of the free plants offered by the Arbor Day Foundation as a membership benefit; but it does have interesting flowers, although not nearly as showy as C. Cggygyria, and very nice orange fall leaf coloration.  The Eurasian species has been hybriized a lot and there are a number of varieties available that have quite spectacular leaf and flower colors.  One is either turned on by the the smoke tree and its varieties or one is not.  In general I find them attractive, but hard to use in the landscape because they stand out so much, particularly when contrasted with the more subdued palette of most North American plants.  They literally shout, "Here I am," like some scene-stealing actor or worse, a campaigning politician.  Be careful whom you vote for!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

THE "WASPINATOR" REALLY WORKS!

THE WASPINATOR LOOKS LIKE A WASP NEST TO A WASP
 1
REALLY, IT WORKS!
Saturday, 8:00 AM.  73 degrees F at the ferry dock, 68 on the back porch.  The sky is clear, the humidity 68%  The barometer is rising somewhat, currently at 29.88".  I is an auspicious start to the day, with the forecast of days of fine weather to follow.  I can get back to painting the front porch.
   After being rather painfully stung by a yellow jacket while eating lunch on the back porch several days ago, I rummaged around and got the Waspinator out of the storage box on the porch and hung it up. I had neglected to do so earlier and the result was a painfully swollen hand.
   We bought two Waspinators several years ago through an advertisement in a magazine. They cost around $10 each plus shipping.  I was skeptical, as they didn't look much like a wasp nest to me...but evidently they do to a wasp.  It worked very well for two seasons and then I neglected to put it up this spring.  Since I hung the Waspinator back up we have had no stinging insects to bother us while eating or sitting about.  The result is virtually immediate.  The only proviso is that if there is an active wasp nest already established nearby they may not be scared off.  It is best to hang the Waspinator up in early spring, before wasps are active.
   The Waspinator really works!
   How does it work?   Wasps and hornets are territorial and will stay far away (about 200 feet) from the nests of other wasps.  The Waspinator is a polypropylene bag with a photo of a real wasp nest printed on it; the printing mimics the papery appearance of a real wasp nest.   In addition, wasps are predatory on other insects, so a lot of insects, evidently including  hornets and other  stinging insects, also stay away from what is perceived to be a nest containing many enemy wasps.  The Waspinator does not kill or injure wasps (which are beneficial insects) or anything else...it just repels them, so you can sit and enjoy your lunch or your nap.  It weighs virtually nothing and can be crushed and carried to the beach or on a picnic, and when hung up will immediately do its job.
   The Waspinator was an idea that came to a UK businessman, Hugh Brunfelt, a few years ago while he was stuck in traffic listening to a BBC program on the territoriality of wasps. He immediately thought of creating a fake nest to scare wasps away.  He checked the idea for a wasp-repelling decoy out with University entomologists and began producing them in 2005.  They have become popular in the US and Canada as well as the UK.
   This is one of the greatest environmental products I have ever encountered.  We have a tenant in our downstairs apartment who is very allergic to wasp and hornet stings and we have hung one up on her patio as well, and it works for her, too.
   We took the Waspinator idea a step further and found a real wasp nest (they are abandoned by winter) and used that as a deterrent for a while also, but a real nest can be difficult to come by and will deteriorate and fall apart after a season or too.  The Waspinator will last you many years.
   You will be happy you got one.

Friday, July 24, 2015

STOP SIGNS AND PICNICS

TREE BOARD MEMBER SHERMAN EDWARDS CLEARING VIEW OF STOP SIGN 

PICNIC AT THE LARSEN CAMP YESTERDAY EVENING
Friday, 9:00 AM.  70 degrees F, wind SW, light with stronger gusts.  The sky has some clouds and haze but the sun is shining through at present, after a trace of rain earlier.  The humidity is 84% and the barometer is falling, currently at 29.78", which presages a chance of thunderstorms all day.  So much for painting the front entrance porch.
   One of the important duties of the Bayfield Tree Board is keeping stop signs and intersections clear of vision-obstructing vegetation.  The above photo shows Tree Board Member Sherman Edwards doing some chain saw work at the intersection of Old Military and Tenth Street.
   We haven't had time or good weather enough for much outdoor picnicking this summer, and yeysterday evening we had the opportunity to do so with the Larsen family at their summer camp out on Old County Hwy. K. Food and conversation are always better outdoors, especially with old friends.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

TANSY IS BLOOMING


TANSY... JUST COMING INTO BLOOM...

COMPOUND FLOWER HEAD...

...FINELY CUT LEAVES

Thursday, 8:30 AM.  68 degrees F, wind SW, light with stronger gusts.  The sky is mostly clear with some high, wispy white clouds.  The humidity has risen to 87% and there is some haze in the atmosphere.  The barometer continues to fall, now at 29.94", predicting a possible thunderstorm tomorrow night.  It will be a warmer, more humid summer day.
   Tansy, Tannecetum vulgare, (vulgare meaning common) is in the Sunflower Family, the Compositae.  Its golden yellow flower heads are a cheerful addition to the summer landscape. The name Tansy is of uncertain and ancient origin.  The species is European, probably came to North America with agricultural seeds, and now is naturalized over much of the continent.
    The garden vrietry Achillea millifolium 'Moonshine' and the common tansy,Tanacetum vulgare, are easily confused at first glance.  Both have heavily dissected leaves and bright yellow flower heads, and grow to about the same height.  But the former seldom escapes the garden , and the latter is mainly a roadside plant (which should be kept out of the garden as it will take over).  Both have somewhat similar foliage, but the Tansy leaves smell rather medicinal when crushed, and the Achillea leaves have a strong rosin odor.  The individual Tansy flower heads look like golden buttons, and in fact "buttons" is its common name in England.  The individual flowers in the flower heads of the Achillea are minute and closely crowded together.
   Tansy has very aromatic leaves, which were used to strew over dirt floors in the Middle Ages.  It had many herbal uses in the past, particularly for stomach complaints and worms in children.  The dried root is said to be a remedy for gout, from which I suffer,  but I have not  tried it (I am pretty careful with herbal self-medication).  
   Tansy is on the Wisconsin DNR prohibited list of invasive plants.  However, it is everywhere, couldn't possibly be eradicated, and as far as I can see does little harm and is very colorful.  But you don't want it in your garden, because it spreads so vigorously.  In any case, I think worrying about Tansy is pretty much a dilettante luxury.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

YELLOW PONDLILY AND WATERLILY

WHITE WATERLILY (UWSP photo)




Wednesday, 8:15 AM.  63 degrees F at the ferry dock, 58 on the back porch.  Wind variable and very light. The sky has scattered clouds.  The humidity continues to rise slowly, now at 81%.  The barometer stands at 29.94" and is steady for now.  It is a very fine morning.
   The robins have discovered the ripening Juneberries and crabapples, and are flitting from one to the other, diving into the foliage and creating such a ruckus that the small trees shake with their activities.  Life is good for the robin this morning.
  Yellow pondlily, AKA spatterdock, Nuphar advena,   synonym lutea, in the Waterlily Family (Nymphaceae) is blooming in backwaters of the Sioux River and other quiet waters.  
   Our native water lilies, Nymphaea odorata, have mostly white petals, and the flowers float flat on the water ( N. alba is an occasional escapee from cultivation and may have roseate petals).  As the species name indicates, the native waterlilies are very fragrant. They have been blooming for some time.  The yellow Nuphar flowers are cup shaped and rise above the water on a long stem; the leaves also float.  Both species are in the water lily family, the Nymphaceae.  There is a third species of waterlily-like aquatic plant native to southern wisconsin, Nelumbo lutea, the water chinquapin or wonkapin.  It'spale yellow flowers are also held above the water on a tall stem, and are otherwise very similar in appearance to those of Nuphar advena.  It appears in southern Wisconsin along the southern reaches of the Wisconsin River.  N. nucifera, the oriental sacred lotus, is an occasional escapee in the same regions. It has pink flowers.  I do not recall ever seeing it in the wild.  The leaves of the last two species are often held up out of the water by long stems, rather than float, like water-lily leaves.
  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

FIREWEED

FIREWEED ALONG TOWNSEND ROAD...

...FIREWEED FLOWER SPIKE
Tuesday,  8:30 AM.  64 degrees F at the ferry dock, 60 on the back porch. The wind is variable but mostly westerly, with occasional moderate gusts. The sky is partly cloudy, and the humidity has risen to 77%.  The barometer is more-or-less steady at 29.88".  It looks like a repeat of yesterday, which was a fine day.
     Fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium, in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae) is a circumboreal  perennial plant that typically occupies disturbed habitats, such as occurs due to a fire, hence its common name. Chamerium angustifolium is a botanical synonym.  It is also called willow-herb (because of its long, narrow, willow-like leaves) as well as wicup.  It is often seen in large masses in fields and roadsides after a fire and can be very prominent in the landscape.  It is quite beautiful and blooms for a long time, the lower flowers on the flower spike blooming first.  It is native to most of the northern half of North America, and at elevation in the western mountains.
  All parts of the young plant and roots are reportedly edible, sweet and quite good, eaten raw as a salad, or cooked.  It has many reported medicinal properties, including for the treatment of urinary tract problems, and the leaves have been used as a restorative tea.  I have no personal experience with it as an edible or medicinal plant. One again, never ingest any wild plant without definite identification and exact knowledge of edibility or medicinal use. 
   The stem fibers are quite tough and were used by native peoples to make cordage and fish nets.
   Altogether it is a very beautiful and traditionally useful wild plant.
   

Monday, July 20, 2015

BEACH BLOOMS

BEACH GRASS IN BLOOM...

MEADOWSWEET FOWER SPIKE...


...MEADOWSWEET SHRUBS IN BLOOM...

...WILD ROSE AND MEADOW SWEET BLOOMS
Monday, 8:30 AM.  71 degrees F at the ferry dock, 67 degrees on the back porch.  The wind is variable but now mostly westerly, often with strong gusts.  The sky is clear, the humidity down to 68%.  The barometer is rising, currently at 29.63".  We should have some nice summer weather for most of the week.
    The American beach grass, or American marram grass, Ammophilla breviligulata, is the primary pioneer dune species along the Great Lakes, as it is on the Atlantic coast .   It is now in full flower, and the seeds will soon develop, the stalks remaining long into the winter.   Beach grass spreads aggressively by runners, and tenaciously holds and builds the foredune, the sand dune closest to the water.  Often it is the only plant species holding the sand in place.   It is an extremely important conservation plant, without which lake and ocean shorelines would be much more prone to erosion.  A. arenaria is a quite similar European beach grass, in times past used for beach erosion control on the east coast of the United States.
   Meadowsweet, Spiraea alba, in the rose family, the Rosaceae, is blooming along the back of the foredune at the beach.  It is quite attractive and is sweet scented.  It is not uncommon if one is a frequenter of swamps and other wet places.  It is growing along with blueberries, wild roses and poison ivy in the damp sand.
   The spiraeas are important ornamental plants and there are a number of introduced European and Asian species so used, and they have been much hybridized. There are a number of other North American species as well. All contain methyl salicylate, the primary ingredient of aspirin.  Therefore it is not surprising that many species have herbal and folk medicine uses, and there are references to American Indian use of the plant as a medicinal tea as well.  In Quebec meadowsweet is called The' Du Canada.
   

Saturday, July 18, 2015

PRESERVE OUR OLD GROWTH TREES

SIGN IN WASHBURN ON HWY. 13...

...DITTO,,.

...RESPONSE TO DESTRUCTION OF CENTURY-OLD TREES?
Sunday,  9:00 AM. 69 degrees at the ferry dock, 65 on the back porch.  Wind SW, light to moderate with occasional stronger gusts.  The sky is clear, the humidity moderate at 72%.  the barometer is steady for now, at 29.75".  It will be a "perfect ten" day!
   A resident on Hwy. 13 in Washburn has erected these signs, I believe in response to the destruction of many century-old white pine trees last winter along Hwy. 13, between Washburn and Bayfield.
   I wrote an Almanac post entitled, "Where Will The Eagles Perch?" on March 18.  It was also modified and published as a letter to the editor in the Ashland Daily Press.  Perhaps it had an effect.

WHERE WILL THE EAGLES PERCH?
 I made a few phone calls yesterday concerning the old white pines that were taken down along State Hwy. 13 between the Sioux and Onion Rivers.   I called the Bayfield County Highway Department, snce they took down the trees.  A very polite superintendent called me back and explained that they were under a maintenance contract to the State Department of Transportation, and were only following the dictates of the State Superintendent for Bayfield, Ashland and Sawyer Counties, who was only following routine regulations for roadside maintenance.  In other words, no one actually accepted any personal responsibility for the decision.  ("I was just following orders" being the standard legal excuse for war crimes and other great transgressions).
   I am not a tree hugger that defies important safety or maintenance issues, but I think that the takedown of so many large old trees is a decision that should be very well thought out and overtly defensible, not simply explained away as some routine, rote procedure.
   Highway 13 between Ashland and Cornucopia was finally designated a State of Wisconsin Scenic Byway two years ago, after a twenty year effort.  The trees in question were a significant contribution to the scenery, even though, or rather because , they had some bare, broken and picturesque branches.  One old downed white pine, near the bridge over the Onion River, was a rather consistent perch for bald eagles fishing in the stream.  That certainly was scenic.
   I am not going to pursue the issue further with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, as dealing with that entity is about as productive as punching a whale.  But I do hope I have provoked a more cautious attitude towards the removal of scenic old trees.
   Perhaps in the future someone will ask first, "Where will the eagles perch?"

RED OSIER DOGWOOD BERRIES

RED OSIER DOGWOOD WINTER TWIG COLOR...


RED OSIER DOGWOOD FLOWERS...


...FRUIT...



...LEAVES WITHOUT TEETH OR LOBES...



...FALL LEAF COLOR...


Friday, July 17, 2015

RASPBERRIES AND AMERICAN CHESTNUT TREES

BAYFIELD RASPBERRIES ARE RIPE...


...ON SALE AND DELICIOUS!


YOUNG AMERICAN CHESTNUT IN BLOOM ON CORNER OF 10TH ST. AND MANYPENNY AVE.


...FLOWER SPIKES OF AMERICAN CHESTNUT...


...AMERICAN CHESTNUT LEAF
Friday, 8:00 AM.  67 degrees F at the ferry dock, 62 on the back porch.  Wind variable, calm with light gusts. The sky has a low overcast, after .25" of rain falling last night.  The humidity is 93% and the barometer is beginning to rise moderately, currently at 29.66".  It is an unsettled morning but looks like it is beginning to clear somewhat.  The annual Bayfield Art Show will be held this weekend at the lakefront and we will hope for decent weather for that important event.
   Bayfield's raspberry crop is ripening, and we bought the first berries of the season yesterday at Rocky Acres berry farm on Hwy. J.  The picked price is $4.00 a quart, or save some money and pick your own.  Bayfield's fruit crop has been excellent so far this year. Sweet cherries are still available at Apple Hill Orchard at the corner of Hwys. J and I.
   We have reported before on Bayfield's rare,  remnant American Chestnut trees and shall do so again.  They are in full bloom at present, the earthy-smelling greenish to creamy white flowers adorning a number of trees, large and small.  A very large, double-trunked tree can be seen on the corner of 7th and Manypenny Ave., and a young tree, propagated and planted by former Bayfield volunteer forester Howard Larsen, is on the corner of Tenth and Manypenny.  There is a large tree in a ravine on the grounds of Spring Hill B&B on Hwy. J just west of its junction with Hwy. 13, and it is large enough to be seen in flower from the road.  There reportedly is a stand of chestnuts on the Apostle Highlands Golf Course further up the same ravine.
   American chestnuts, Castanea dentata, in the beech family (Fagaceae) were a dominant tree of the eastern and southeastern North American deciduous forest until the invasive chestnut blight erupted a hundred years ago.  At that time one in four trees in that forest were American chestnut, and they rapidly died off.  
   The chestnut is valuable for its durable and beautiful wood, for its sweet, edible nuts and its ecological significance. The blight spreads readily by wind and by vectors, including man, and at this point there is no known cure.  It is believed that the disease was inadvertently introduced from Asia, where the Chinese chestnut has developed natural resistance to it.  The disease causes bark cankers which kill the tree above the the canker.  Infected trees often sprout from the base of the tree so there are still chestnut trees to be found, but they are almost always diseased.  The Bayfield trees are not infected and that makes them an interesting and perhaps important rarity.  
   At this point I am not aware of anybody studying the Bayfield trees, and do not know whether they are either immune or resistant to the disease, or simply are isolated enough that they have never been infected.   
   Current efforts to develop resistant varieties of American chestnuts and also to combat the disease itself have been undertaken by the American Chestnut Society as well as various universities and other public entities, including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which monitors a large stand of the trees near LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  Bayfield is at the extreme northwestern edge of the original range of the American Chestnut, and the small number of trees here may have been a natural outlier population or may have been planted by homesteaders.  I doubt there is any way to accurately know their actual history.
   It might be feasible to mount a successful campaign to use more of the Bayfield chestnuts as street and park trees, but a lot of trees would attract a lot of interest and a much greater chance of introducing the disease to the small population we presently have, so without a lot of further knowledge it does not seem to me to be a viable concept.
   For additional photos and discussion, please use the blog search engine.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

FALSE SPIREA

FALSE SP[IREA, A LARGE, SPREADING SHRUB...

...LARGE, CREAMY-WHITE FLOWER CLUSTERS...

...BIG, PINNATELY COMPOUND LEAVES
Thursday, 8:00 AM.  67 degrees F at the ferry dock, 63 on the back porch. Wind SW, calm with light gusts. The sky is partly filled with high, wispy clouds.  The humidity is 84% and the barometer is falling precipitously, now standing at 29.89".  We will probably get a rain shower this evening.
   Yesterday I continued pruning shrubs and trees and trimming grass, and will finish those tasks this morning. I like to create rooms and vistas as I prune mature trees and shrubs. I feel that a landscape, no matter how small, should have niches and coves to sit in, and vistas and focal points to view from each vantage point.  It is an undertaking that demands time and patience of the pruner, and an eye for the broader outlook and borrowed views, as well as the closer details.  It can be a very creative and enjoyable task.
   Yesterday while eating lunch on the porch I swatted a flying yellow jacket with my hands.  He evidently had a fierce objection to my doing so, as he really nailed my right hand hand, which remains pretty well swollen this morning.
   The false spirea, Sorbaria sorbifolia, in the Rose Family, is closely allied with the genus Spirea, and the genus and species names relate to Sorbus, the mountain ash genus, which its leaves resemble.  It is also closely related to Aruncus, the goat’s beard shrub, which I talked about a few days back.  False spirea is native to northeast Asia, and is hardy to Zone 2.  It is a very large, spreading plant useful in shrub borders and for screening.
    It blooms profusely in mid-summer and is interesting in form and foliage, but it spreads by runners and could be invasive in the smaller yard.   Although not native, it has a very naturalistic appearance.  It might be used more than it is in the landscape, as it is  quite an imposing plant, and has large, colorful blooms, first creamy white and later turning brownish, and lush foliage.
   The shrubs pictured are on the corner of 8th Street and Manypenny Ave., and a large planting is naturalized along Hwy. 13, south of Bayfield, near the bridge over Pike's Creek.
 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

GRAY HILLSIDES AND RIPE MULBERRIES

MULBERRY LEAVES AND FRUIT...
RED MAPLE WITH LEAVES TURNED OVER

...RIPE MULBERRY FRUIT



Wednesday, 8:15 AM.  60 degrees F at the ferry dock, 64 on the back porch, where the thermometer catches the morning's light, but warm, SW wind.  The sky is partly cloudy, the humidity 86%.  As I walked up the street with the dog this morning I noticed a good-sized red maple (Acer rubrum) with so many of its leaves turned over that it looked gray.  I have long used gray leaves as an indicator of an approaching storm, or at least a fast-falling barometer.  When I returned home and checked, the barometer  read 30.04" but was dropping precipitously.  I am reminded of an old lake captain's comment, "When the hills turn gray I head for port."
   I spent yesterday mowing the lawn in the morning, and pruning back the deck's overgrown lilacs and red elderberry in the afternoon.  The later was a very arduous task, as the shrub has been determined to overtake first the herb garden, and then the entire back yard.  The end result is very nice but will have to be done again next year I am sure.
   The mulberry tree in the woods across the street is loaded with juicy blue-black berries.  Last year it did not bear anywhere near as heavily and a month later, probably because it was badly damaged by the heavy snows of the prior winter.  I am not sure of its exact identity, whether it is the Russian mulberry so commonly planted in the past, the red mulberry native much further south ( some reported in southern and mid-Wisconsin) or a hybrid between the two.  It is definitely not a typical Russian mulberry, since I see few of the mitten-shaped leaves so typical of that species, and the leaves are very thick and shinny, in contrast to those of the Russian mulberry, which are thinner and duller.  In any case, the tree is something of a mystery, and I will reprint the post (edited) of that tittle from 8/26/2013.
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   The mulberry tree in the wooded lot across the street is loaded with berries, which for some reason the bears haven't discovered as yet.  I have eaten my fill out of hand.  It is too hard to pick more than that, although they make wonderful pies and preserves.  The raspberry-like fruit is dark purple when ripe, but tastes rather bland unless absolutely falling-off ripe.  
   The white, or Russian mulberry, Morus alba, has long been planted in North America for its fruit, and in the past many farmsteads had a Russian mulberry tree. Its ripe fruit can be white to black or something in-between. Joan has fond childhood memories of climbing the big  mulberry tree on her aunt's farm to pick enough berries to make mulberry jam.  She remembers them as being much bigger and sweeter than those from the tree across the street.  She and her cousins would climb down from the berry tree with coffee cans and tummies filled with berries, and hands and faces stained with berry juice.
   The native red mulberry, Morus rubra, is an occasional forest tree throughout much of the eastern and southeastern US.  It is sometimes found from southern to mid-Wisconsin. Both species have some of their leaves deeply lobed, sometimes being mitten-shaped; the white mulberry has more such leaves, in my experience. I would call our tree a red mulberry except for its far northern location. To add to the confusion, the two species often hybridize. 
   Mulberry tree leaves have in the past been used to feed silk "worms," caterpillars of silk moths, which produce webs for their cocoons, which can be spun into silk.  The red and white mulberry are in the mulberry family, the Moraceae.  Another silk-worm tree, Broussonitia papyrifera, also in the mulberry family, has rather similar leaves and has  occasionally escaped from cultivation in the Southeast.  
   Silk making and raising silkworms on mulberry trees was a growth industry in the eastern  US in the 19th Century. Paterson, NJ was its center.  The effort did not last long, but some of its effects are still with us, such as the Gypsy moth, once used to produce silk along with other silk moth species, and long since escaped into the wild, where it has become a serious forest pest, even as far west as Wisconsin.
   I think I'll go and pick a few mulberries for breakfast.

   

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

ALL THINGS ARE BEAUTIFUL, IN THEIR OWN WAY

BLACKBERRY BRAMBLE, INFECTED LEAF...

UNDERSIDE OF LEAFLET...

WHY IT'S CALLED "RUST"
Tuesday, 7:30 AM.  65 degrees F, wind NE, light with much stronger gusts.  The sky is overcast but the barometer, now at 29.75", is rising fast, and it should clear later on.  We had several quick showers late yesterday afternoon, but they only produced enough rain to interrupt my lawn mowing, which I will have to finish this morning when it dries out a bit.
   The last thing I wish to do at present is get into the differences between brambles (blackberries) and raspberries, and most certainly not the technicalities of fungal rust diseases and their life cycles.  Suffice it to say that I came across (I could say stumbled upon, or over) a very beautiful orange rust on low brambles on the beach.
   I have learned that in nature there is beauty in all things, if we view them without prejudice, considering color, complexity of design, functionality and other factors that touch our sense of esthetics.
   Orange rust of brambles is caused by one or both of two different genera of rust, which complete their entire life cycle on one plant (no alternate hosts).  Orange rust does not, evidently, affect raspberries.  
   The rust spreads during cool, wet weather, which we have had much of.  When I rubbed the infected leaves, the orange spores clung to my fingers, exactly as though I had rubbed a rusty piece of iron.
   As the song says, "All things are beautiful, in their own way."

Monday, July 13, 2015

TWO WILDFLOWERS: DAISY FLEABANE AND EVENING PRIMROSE

DAISY FLEABANE

EVENING PRIMROSE

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Monday, 9:00AM.  67 degrees F at the ferry dock, 65 on the back porch.  Wind ESE, calm with light gusts.  The sky is cloudy but clearing, after thunderstorms most of the night (Buddy is a wuss, and slept in our bedroom).  We got almost an inch of welcome rain.
   The daisy fleabane, Erigeron annuus, in the sunflower Compositae) family is a common annual wildflower of  roadsides,  meadows and prairies.  The ray flowers are white or pink to blue, the center disk  flowers golden yellow.  The genus has as many as two hundred species. The species is native to most of North America.  It reappears every year in the same spot along the roadside.  The common name refers to its traditional use as a flea repellant when dried.
   Evening primrose, Oenothera biennis, in the Evening Primrose Family (Onagraceae), is a biennial plant (growing vegetativey the first year, and flowering the second).  The flowers of many species of the genus open in the evening, thus the common name.  The genus is native to the Western Hemisphere but is now found throughout the world.  The oil of the seeds of evening primrose is antiseptic, and is still used to treat ear infections in children.