Select Page

Thanks to the Woodpeckers and Nut Hatches

Have you all seen this Wall Street Journal article? http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323446404579011172323705040.html?KEYWORDS=ash+trees#articleTabs%3Darticle

May they eat and eat and eat until the Emerald Ash Borer stops its rampage through the Midwest.##

Buy a Hosta, Build a Future

Saturday, August 24, 9am-4pm Hosta Sale. 

Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery in Woodstock, IL, will have several hundred varieties of hostas for sale to benefit Heifer International. All hostas are $5.00 and up. Heifer International (HI) is a non-profit, humanitarian organization dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty and caring for the earth. HI provides livestock, trees, training, and other resources to help struggling families build sustainable futures. The recipients of the animals must ‘pass on the gift’ of the first female offspring and training in environmentally sound agriculture to another family in need. In this manner, an endless cycle of transformation is set in motion as recipients become equal partners in ending poverty and hunger. Heifer International has provided food and income producing animals to more than 8.5 million impoverished families in 125 countries in the last 67 years. Rich Eyre worked with Heifer while in the Peace Corps 44 years ago in Bolivia and he can give testimony to its positive effects in those communities. Rich and Susan Eyre served 6 years on the Board of Trustees of the Heifer Foundation.

Rich and Susan just appeared on one of my favorite radio shows, WBEZ World View with Jerome McDonnell, because they were nominated as outstanding volunteers for a worldwide cause. Congratulations to them! Here’s their interview: http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-philplanthropy-108432.

Ed Slomski and Mike Krause coordinate volunteers to help divide and sell the hostas. Volunteers will be available to answer any questions about Heifer International on the day of the sale. On the day’s program:

  • 10am-noon Hosta Leaf Identification Tom Micheletti, former President of the American Hosta Society and Midwest Regional Hosta Society, and founder and first President of the Northern Illinois Hosta Society, will be available to identify hostas for people who bring the leaves of unknown hostas.
  • 1pm Hostas in the Landscape Tom Micheletti will do a short presentation about hostas.
  • 9am-4pmBolivian Arts & Crafts Fundraiser for Mano a Mano International Partnerswill raise money to build hospitals, schools, roads, and irrigation projects in rural Bolivia. There will be a variety of items for sale. Mano a Mano was originated by a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Joan Velasquez, and her husband Segundo. In 2008 she won the Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service awarded to a Returning Peace Corps Volunteer. Rich & Susan Eyre want to help Mano a Mano build 100 hospitals in Bolivia.

Refreshments will be served. Cash or check only! Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery, 11618 McConnell Road Woodstock IL 60098. 815-338-7442. coniflora@richsfoxwillowpines.com.##

BELOW ARE THE HOSTAS IN ROMMY’S GARDEN THAT NEED IDENTIFICATION. CAN ANYONE IDENTIFY ANY OF THESE HOSTAS? THE PERSON WHO CORRECTLY ANSWERS THE MOST HOSTA WILL HAVE A DONATION MADE IN THEIR NAME BY THE WEEDPATCH GAZETTE TO HEIFER PROJECT. GOOD LUCK AND THANKS!

 

 

Do you use Gmail?

Attention, Weedpatch readers. Gmail has decided to make our lives easier, which means they’ve created a new “time waster” to our lives. Please check to see if my email alerts to new posts has ended up in the “Promotions Tab” on gmail, rather than the “Primary Tab”… Ugh.

Here’s how to check:

http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/how-do-i-get-my-emails-to-the-primary-tab-in-gmail

I do hope you are enjoying the Weedpatch Gazette and that you will recommend subscribing to everyone you ever met. My ego really really wants more readers, so whatever you can do… xxx’s Rommy Lopat, editor

Do Deer Like Milkweed?

“Do Deer Like Milkweed”?

Do Deer Like Milkweed?

Do Deer Like Milkweed?

This is a query received from a Weedpatch reader named Patti S. I LOVE questions from readers because finding answers is my way of avoiding working on any essential tasks (like earning money or calling the health insurance company). Very oddly, the question reminded me that I had recently bought a used book, The Hidden Life of Deer, by naturalist/anthropologist, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, but had not yet read it. So, now’s the time, right? Honest to God, I randomly opened the book to page 186 and immediately saw the word, “Monarch”. Could I really have an answer so quickly? Well, no, but I did read four riveting pages of Thomas’ observations of a Monarch caterpillar on a Milkweed leaf. Which left me with the question, “Do caterpillars shit only on leaves they don’t nibble”?

But I digress. Next, I googled. Whereupon I came upon a lot of other people looking to answer the same question, but also found my new favorite website, homesteadingtoday.com, which appears to be about as blue state/red state in its opinions as Americans can be. There I read comments claiming that Milkweed is “a noxious weed, just like kudzu” and how best to eradicate it with 2-4D but followed by polite suggestions from obvious blue staters like, “couldn’t you leave just a little bit for the butterflies?”. I also read how Grandpa considered Milkweed to be his cash crop during WWII cuz he sold the waterproof and buoyant floss for stuffing in life jackets and flight suits (methinks Grandpa did not get rich but this CSM article about its WWII uses is REALLY interesting). Then I read that Milkweed “never bothered the cattle”. And that Milkweed should be planted by the front door because it draws bees but the bees “keep the door knockers away”. The same commentator, “Alleyyooper”, answered Patti’s question this way: “Deer like it like a horse eats oats”. H’mmm…

But methinks that Alleyyooper is wrong about the grazing deer. “Milkweed” is MILKweed for a reason (actually, let’s rename it “Silkweed”, much more attractive name). Milkweed refers to its “white juice, which is a kind of rubber”. (Recall that Thomas Edison tried to use it to replace rubber in making car tires. True.). Here’s more from a 1911 book, Handbook of Nature Study, (buy it!) recommended to me by botanist Jerry Wilhelm:

“The most striking peculiarity of the milkweed plant is its white juice. Let a drop of it dry on the back of the hand, and when we try to remove it we find it quite elastic and possessed of all the qualities of crude rubber. We can see that the hollow of the center of the stem has around it a dark green ring, and that outside this is a light green ring. It is from the dark green ring that the milk exudes. The juice will soon fill and heal the wound we made. This milk is not the sap of the pine; it is a special secretion, and is very acrid to the taste. Milkweed is seldom eaten by grazing animals…”.

P1060681

I tested the Milkweed myself, including trying to sniff for its “strong odor” which I thought might deter the deer. I couldn’t smell any odor, although I thought I detected a soft vanilla scent. Deer cookies? Anyhoo, this is what I think. If you were a deer grazing in a salad bowl of vegetation, you might bite off a Milkweed occasionally, but if you got a mouthful of white sticky latex on your tongue every time you would definitely prefer to eat something else. Like a hosta. So, dear Patti, plant the milkweed and watch to see what the deer do to it. Get back to us, okay?

And to alleyyooper–if a horse eats too many oats, a horse gets sick. Same with Milkweed and deer. Please plant milkweed. Make a butterfly come alive.##

monarch-on-milkweed

 

Got Milkweed?

If you are reading this, doubtless you know the Golden Rule of Biodiversity: plant milkweed. Please. No, I take back the “please”. Just do it. Even if you garden on only a balcony, grow some milkweed in a clay pot. However you manage it (ie “float” its diaphanous seed in the parkway or the alley), be a guerrilla biodiversifier and…plant milkweed.

You know why I am pushy about this plant: because its leaves are the only thing that Monarch butterflies can eat. As noted entomologist Doug Tallamy says, “To have butterflies, we need to make butterflies. To make butterflies, you must use a native species that serve as a host for butterfly larvae [Ed: that’s a caterpillar] as well as a supply of nectar for adult butterflies. Butterflies do not lay their eggs on any old plant. They lay their eggs only on the plant species to which their larvae are adapted”. And that means…Milkweed.

You even have choices when it comes to which milkweed, but three species are commonly available in garden centers or via seed packets:

The Common milkweed [Asclepias syriaca], which has husky leaves, roots that grow to China, and a handsome dusty rose globe of a flower. [If you are worried about this being too aggressive, look for its cousin, Sullivant’s milkweed, which grows slowly, albeit by rhizomes, which means its good in tough-to-grow-anything-else spots. Nonetheless, I like the Common milkweed in gardens–it provides a tall, solid, almost tropical contrast although you might have to tie it up with a strong shoelace.]

 

Common Milkweed flowering pattern

Common Milkweed flowering pattern

The Butterfly weed [Asclepias tuberosa], which has flowers the extravagant color of a Navel orange, does well in dry, “crappy” soils, and makes a great bouquet;

1-P1060073 butterfly weed

 

 

The Red or Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata] has a two-toned pink flower, narrow leaves, and a pleasing way of gracing a moist spot–especially nice en masse if you have a lake edge to landscape.

Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata]

Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata]

And if Monarch’s weren’t good enough for you, at least 11 other species of butterflies and moths reproduce on milkweed as well. Goldfinches eat the insects that get trapped in the flowers and also use milkweed seed “down” for nesting material, and you may see (good) beetles on the plants as well. Biodiversity can be easy if you try!

Milkweed pods and the seeds that float on the air...

Milkweed pods and the seeds that float on the air…

Okay, I’ll be nice again. PLEASE plant milkweed someplace on your property. Or your balcony. And now I won’t be nice: if you work for a municipality, we gardeners expect to see milkweed growing everywhere around town. It’s the law.#