This past week’s warmer weather has been an exhilarating blast of spring when contrasted with the icy, extreme cold just one week earlier. The warmup has spurred many of us to get back out in the garden to start getting ready for spring. While our landscape beds and gardens will be places of burgeoning spring beauty as plant life begins its annual revival in the coming weeks, they are also ecological hotspots of awakening spring life in the insect world.
For many gardeners, an entire season of continuously blooming plants is a primary goal. Not only do these fantastic flowers deliver ornate beauty throughout the year, but they are also greatly beneficial to pollinators by providing a continuous food source of pollen and nectar. Since many plants have a limited flower display, sometimes only spanning a few weeks, it is often difficult to find the right arrangement of plants for an entire growing season of continuous blooms.
Last Tuesday marked the 210th birthday of the famous botanist and naturalist, Charles Darwin, who is most well-known for his groundbreaking work on the science of evolution. In 1859, Darwin published his most noteworthy book, titled “On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” which was a foundational work that defined our current understanding of evolutionary biology. In this book, Darwin describes how all species on earth have descended from common ancestors over time, which has become a foundational concept in scie
The iconic monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has become somewhat of a poster child for the plight that many pollinators face, and for good reason. Monarch populations have experienced drastic declines in recent years for a variety of reasons, some which researchers are still trying to explain. The monarch’s charismatic appearance and large home range, spanning much of the US, has made it familiar to most anyone who has ever caught butterflies as a kid or observed visitors to their flower garden.
Eleven years ago, the US Senate unanimously approved the designation of a week in June as National Pollinator Week, marking a huge step in recognizing both the value of our pollinators and the plight they have faced nationwide. Governors in all 50 states have also recognized the same Pollinator Week in their states. This week (June 18-24) is National Pollinator week, the perfect time to reflect on the value of these hardworking animals.
Spring is a time of swelling buds and wildflowers in Illinois forests. However, the flowering display of some plants may be overlooked if you aren’t observant.
The annual ritual of fall garden cleanup can be a toilsome, yet rewarding task. After racking up piles and piles of leaves, it is really nice to see some green grass poking through as one last gasp of summer. Cutting back the old, dead stems from garden beds can create a more manicured look for the long and bare winter season. However, it may be worth considering a scale back on fall cleanup tasks to save some needed habitat for wildlife this winter.