The spring weather for 2017 is upon us EARLY! That means as we try to check what to wear and how to prepare for our days, our landscape is probably going nuts doing the same thing. Do we leaf out or do we put flowers out? Many plants react to longer days indicated by more sun, and others react to the changes in temperature. Phenology is the study of blooms and plant growth. Essentially it asks what do you see blooming, budding or turning with respect to plants. The US National Phenology Network tracks this information throughout the growing season. And this site tracks phenology along the Appalachian Trail. You can check their website out and see what is growing now. You can even join their efforts to provide data in your landscape too. What’s starting to grow in your garden?
27 Feb – 03 Mar 2017 is also National Invasive Species Awareness Week. What is an invasive? Well it’s typically any species intentionally or accidentally introduced by human activity into a region in which they did not evolve and cause harm to natural resources, economic activity or humans. This goes for any species in a floral or fauna category. You can see some of the activities around what this week is all about here: http://www.nisaw.org. To learn more about what are considered invasive species for Virginia, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VA-DCR) has a website dedicated to this very topic. You can review it here: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/invspinfo.
Spring is a great time to assist newly emerging native bees, many of which have been dormant over the winter months hiding in leaf litter, logs, bricks or in the ground as many are solitary ground dwellers–best part is they are not aggressive and have no stingers. Bonus! As they emerge they are looking for some food to make up their caloric stores they’ve expended. Some great spring flowers that many of our native bees are seeking are things like-Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon media), Spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Yellow Trout Lily. (Erythronium americanum), Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) just to name a few. If you are like me, I am just itching to watch the new growth on my plants that look dull and dreary right now. But if you can hold out a little longer–the leaf litter and “untidiness” of your yard will help all the beneficial insects and perhaps even a few dormant caterpillars who’ve nestled in for the winter. As the weather warms and the spring rains come you can begin to spruce up a bit but leaving things be for a few more weeks will bring a great benefit to your soil and the beneficial critters who may be waiting for the temperature to stabilize a bit.
See you in the garden. Let’s get dirty!