"The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity."
— George Carlin (via Rambling Woods)
— George Carlin (via Rambling Woods)
Yes, it's another mish-mash post, but things are somewhat related. Sort of.
First, here's a cute photo I meant to include last time: a tiny cosmos, maybe 2 inches tall and the flower is well under an inch in diameter, that self-sowed itself in my front veggie bed. I liked how the rain collected in it and I left it, despite thoroughly weeding and planting the bed.
As you may recall, my friend Peter and I are doing a frog and toad survey for the city of Ann Arbor. We did our last run the other night and Peter managed to get an excellent recording of gray tree frogs (Hyla versicolor or Hyla chrysoscelis; you'd have to do DNA testing to tell them apart!), which we nicknamed stepped-on-monkey frogs due to their call.
We also got a recording of northern leopard frogs (Rana pipiens) earlier in the season, but they sound like background noise to the very loud spring peepers in our recording. Their call is often described as "a low croaking snore," but to me it sounds more like those metal Chinese relaxation balls rubbing together. You can get a better feel for their call in this recording from National Geographic.
Again, we do the survey after dark so we never actually see the frogs (and they're pretty elusive, anyway), but, man! I have to say the northern leopard frog is one cute amphibian! And check out the cool "suction cup" toes of the tree frogs.
Flora Field Survey
Last week I volunteered in a survey of plants in a natural area on private property in far western Ann Arbor as part of the Huron River Watershed Council's Bioreserve Project. A year or so ago, I took part in the first part of the project, which was taking photos of areas and answering a questionnaire about the plants growing there, as seen from the road. From this info, the HRWC decided which sites might be worth exploring more in depth. That's what this second phase in about: actually getting into the site and filling out a more detailed description of the plants. (Official name: rapid ecological assessment of natural areas.)
We parked at the Stokes Nature Reserve and walked into the site. Unfortunately, we were greeted with a stand of invasive dame's rocket (Hesperis matronalis) in the lot.
I know it's cute and looks like phlox, but it's not. Note it has four petals, not five. It's very invasive and squelches spring ephemeral wildflowers. Boo!
As we entered the site, we also noticed a carpet of invasive garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). Also boo!
The site was in a low-lying area near the Huron River, meaning it was a floodplain forest/wetland. You can probably make out the skunk cabbage and irises on the riverbank...
...and check out the moss on this rock.
There were also a lot of grasses and sedges. I liked that the trees were not dense and there were few invasive shrubs, giving the area a broad, open feel.
We saw some meadow-rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum) with buds but no blooms...
...and some Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). I'm purposefully showing the leaves here because post bloom, trillium and Jacks can look similar. But notice how Jacks have a ring or border all around the edges of their leaves. ID'ing made easy!
By and large, the area was very undisturbed by humans, but something had happened here... Eep!
Other plants we noted included burdock, cattails, cottonwood, creeping Charlie, ferns, forget-me-nots, honeysuckle, hop hornbeam, motherwort, multiflora roses, red maple, shagbark hickory, silver maple, spotted jewelweed, stick-tights, viburnum, Virginia creeper, walnut, wild raspberries, and willow.
Wholesale Nursery Trip
Last night, in a light rain, I joined the Wayne County Master Gardeners (for locals, I'm in Washtenaw County but got a special invite) for a behind-the-scenes tour of Christensen's, a wholesale nursery not normally open to individuals.
They had quite a few perennials, but many many more shrubs.
I really love shrubs and was happily touring row after row under my umbrella.
I was a little bummed they carried landscape varieties of invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle, but was glad to see this cultivar of a native sumac. (And another mini rant: Once we create a cultivar from a native plant, that new cultivar is no longer native, so let's not pretend it is! I don't care what you plant, but let's get the terminology straight. Ahem.)
You probably won't be surprised to learn I didn't purchase anything. My garden is pretty set and I'm pretty cheap. A trollius and 'Marmalade' coral bells caught my eye, but they cost more than I wanted them. I was also sorely tempted by tree peonies, but I really don't have enough areas with full sun left.
I'll be going on the Ann Arbor Garden Walk tomorrow--report to follow. Happy weekend, y'all!