A great resource as we head into a new season
Bringing Nature Home, How you can sustain wildlife with native plants.
By Douglas W. Tallamy
(A review by Karen Van Norman, Lead Gardener, Field Outdoor Spaces. Inc.)
I heard Douglas Tallamy speak at a conference in February 2010, and now two years later, I’m still inspired and motivated by his speech and this book. Planting native plants in our gardens isn’t a new idea by any means, but Mr. Tallamy does a wonderful job of explaining the importance of biological diversity in our own backyards.
The key word is “Insects”. Not only are insects important for pollination of plants but also as protein food for many animals. Songbirds eat insects. Native insects need native plants as their food source, so a backyard or neighborhood nearly void of native plants and trees will have fewer insects.
Most people would cheer at the thought of fewer insects but Tallamy says, “Our nearly universal animosity toward insects is understandable, but seriously misplaced. Of the 4 million or so insect species on earth (to put things in perspective, there are only about 9500 species of birds), a mere 1 percent interact with humans in negative ways. The other 99 percent of the insect species pollinate plants, return the nutrients tied up in dead plants and animals to the soil, keep populations of insect herbivores in check, aerate and enrich the soil, and as I keep stressing, provide food either directly or indirectly for most other animals.”
This book is full of beautiful photographs and has succinct and easy to understand explanations and examples of biodiversity, creating balanced communities, and what plants support the most insects. Did you know that an oak tree supports 534 lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) species? Late winter is the perfect time to read Bringing Nature Home. It will excite you about the wonderful ways gardeners can make a difference for the earth. You’ll want to sharpen your shovel in anticipation of spring.
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The crocus in our office garden began blooming last week!
Well, it looks like spring is really here so it’s time to think about cleaning up those gardens. The weather last weekend was glorious, and if you haven’t done so already, there are a few things you can get out there and do.
- Remove any burlap from evergreens
- Uncage & remove mulch from any tender perennials you added extra protection to over the winter
- Cutback perennials left up for winter interest
- Remove any matted leaves from the lawn – you may have more “leftover” leaf litter than normal since we had such a late leaf drop in the fall
Get out there and enjoy our unusually warm spring!
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Part 1 of 2:
By Joe Larson
It’s almost spring, and at Field we’re hoping that our abnormally mild weather will continue into March and April. However in the back of my mind, the part I try to ignore, I think there is a chance that winter is waiting to release it’s pent up fury on us in March.
Spring is the one time of year that a lot of homeowners think about percent of impervious surfaces, surface water runoff, and soil infiltration rates. Well maybe they don’t know that’s what they are thinking about, but they are wondering why their basement is flooded as they check on the sump pump. Wet basements aren’t the only problem that water runoff causes though.
Infiltration Rates for Impervious vs. Pervious Surfaces
The “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey, and decreased aquatic life and increased algae in our lakes and rivers are all a result of surface water runoff. In a modern city when it rains, around 40%-70% of the water that falls makes its way into the storm sewer systems by means of surface water runoff. The water carries with it a good deal of sediment and pollutants that become nutrients for algae in lake and rivers. The same fertilizer that helps your grass grow enables algae to grow. The algae uses sunlight to process the nutrients and when they die they fall to the lake or river bottom. The decomposition of these “algae blooms” takes a lot of oxygen out of the water and can in extreme cases, such as in the Gulf of Mexico, create an area that is hypoxic, or void of oxygen and thus cannot support marine life.
Brown Water in the Gulf of Mexico
This is why there is a strong movement to filtrate and infiltrate storm water onsite. Filtrating the water removes sediments and can also remove contaminants from the water before it enters a lake or storm water drain. Infiltrating the water involves collecting the water into a depression and allowing it time to naturally seep into the ground. Rain gardens can accomplish both infiltration and filtration, and so too can permeable pavers which we will look at in the next blog.
Rain Garden at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis
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