The name of the large genus Lantana may be more commonly known to most people as verbena. The genus comprises more than 150 species, make it a versatile and plentiful group of plants to choose from when selecting perennials for a garden or landscape. In fact, there are so many varieties of verbena that is can be difficult to navigate the sea of colors, growth heights and blooming patterns of the group. Fortunately, we’ve captured all the basics here for you, so read on to learn more about this lovely and prolific genus. (more…)
Inhale something lovely, a sprig of lavender perhaps. What happens? Better yet, open the bottle of perfume your mother always wore. Memories flood in. Why?
Our sense of smell has been vital to our survival. We, in 2018, may not rely on that sense as we once did, but think about it: sniffing food to see if it is still edible, smelling the smoke of an enemy’s fire, detecting the healing properties of herbs through smell.
Our minds are a creation of the inputs coming from our five senses, and our sense of smell has the power to both heal as well as awaken memories. It is the most enduring sense, and it can take us back in time and flood our brain with memories, both good and bad. (more…)
In this case, ‘good’ means attracting pollinators to your garden. In case you have forgotten, pollinators are essential to our survival. That sounds pretty dramatic, but when you recall your elementary earth science class, you remember that almost ALL of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators! According to the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, ‘pollinators provide service to over 180,000 plants and more than 1,200 crops … 1 out of ever 3 bites of food you eat is available because of pollinators’. Without pollinators, our food supply would be in peril.
There is GOOD SCIENCE that clearly shows that pollinator populations are in decline: habitat loss means that this vital population is losing nesting and feeding habitats. Pollution, climate change, disease as well as the misuse of chemicals have all contributed to this worrisome state of affairs, and the need for action is clear. (more…)
Although it won’t be official until mid-March, when the Mexican government releases the winter’s population count, ‘unofficial’ reports are anticipating a rather small migrating population. These unofficial reports are coming from the El Rosario Sanctuary in Mexico (see video example from 2016 at the end of this post); a site that can sometimes be the winter home for over 50% of the entire monarch population in Mexico. Reports and photos show butterflies densely covering approximately 18 trees. That’s good news, but last year, reports were that 50 trees were covered.
That’s not good news, but it is a call to action: PLANT MORE MILKWEED!
- All Milkweed plants are Asclepias
- Milkweed is the required host plant for monarch butterflies
- Any loss in the population of milkweed means the loss of the monarch population
- We are losing both at an alarming rate
- The biggest threats come from urban development and agricultural intensification
Humans are a fickle bunch, and try as I might, they are hard to figure. Say one thing, mean another. Say one thing, find out it wasn’t true. Commit to one thing, then change courses. Not saying I’m any different, but the dependability of nature (well maybe not weather) is something that brings me a lot of comfort. Cycles that repeat; you sort of come to depend on them. Geese come south, geese go north. Jenny wrens nesting in the same clay pots they used the year before. My mother in law’s daffodils emerging in late February, as they have been since she planted 30+ years ago. Even the sturgeon have decided the river is clean enough to make a comeback. We brought them to the brink of extinction, then we decided to bring them back. See what I mean? Fickle.
Well there is one cycle that is truly a wonder: the migration of the monarch. Their life cycle is equally awe inspiring but let’s focus on this trip! There are so many wondrous aspects of this flight, described as ‘epic’, so let’s start with this:
The monarch migration is the longest known insect migration on earth.
Chew on this: a monarch can leave Nova Scotia, Canada and travel to the mountains west of Mexico City, which works out to somewhere around 3,000 miles. A butterfly, mind you. Miracle? (more…)
“Nature is not a luxury, it is an investment”
~ Mark Tercek
CEO, The Nature Conservancy
The time is running out for many native habitats, but there is so much you can do. I have been working my land for the past 35 years, and I can now look over my conservation efforts and see that they have ‘borne fruit’. From the reclaimed crop fields to thriving natural habitats filled with butterflies, pollinator bees, quail, deer; everything that lives in our area makes their way into these ‘safe zones’. They are vital as their world is shrinking thanks to plows, mowers and not to mention other encroachments. This wasn’t a hard task; marginal crop land taken out of production and planted as early succession natural habitat. This effort was supported by state and federal programs available to landowners ~ it wasn’t a ‘break the bank’ effort, and we were also flooded with great information as well as direct payments from these programs.
You don’t have to own a farm to make a difference. A yard will work. But, you do have to have a commitment to leaving your land in better shape than you found it. We call it stewardship, and firmly believe that each of us has both a right and responsibility. (more…)