When you stumble across something purple in the forest, it’s hard not to stop in your tracks. At least it was for me on a recent hike, when I came across three purple mushrooms. They stood about four inches tall, with saucer tops that were nearly black in the center and ringed in a rich eggplant-purple.
I was captivated. I was also clueless, as I had no idea what I was looking at. I have long regarded mushrooms the way I do yellow-colored warblers and ferns – far too many and too confusing to distinguish one from another. » Continue Reading.
Last winter I spent three months exploring East Africa, traveling through ten different countries and covering over 8,077 miles. I was continuously impressed with how much local guides knew about their surroundings, in particular the human uses of various plants. In some instances we could not walk more than ten feet without stopping to learn about another plant and all the ways it could save your life.
This experience made me curious about plants in my own backyard. A quick skim of foraging articles on the Internet revealed that cattails, with their various edible parts, are often referred to as “nature’s supermarket.” I was thrilled to learn that I had a 40-acre produce section right outside the back door. » Continue Reading.
The two cats at my place have survived many life-threatening traumas such as falls, fights and even the compulsory “devotions” of small children. It’s amazing the hazards they can evade. I think if pets could drive, only dogs would get speeding tickets – cats would always find ways to wriggle out of a citation. Sadly, my contacts in the veterinary field continue to assert that cats have but a single life, and that the whole “nine lives” thing is just a cat tale.
However, the story about cattails having (at least) nine lives is no yarn. An obligate wetland plant, the common cattail (Typha latifolia) is native to the Americas as well as to Europe, Africa and most of Asia – basically the planet minus Australia, all Pacific Islands and most Polar regions. It can be found growing along wetland margins and into water up to 30 inches deep, from hot climates to Canada’s Yukon Territory. » Continue Reading.
Helicopters. Keys. Whirligigs. Samaras. Whatever you call the winged seeds released by maple trees, here’s one more word for them: delicious.
Like many New Englanders, I have fond childhood memories of dropping maple “helicopters” from a height and watching them twist and twirl down to the ground. My children do the same now. They gather fistfuls of maple samaras, toss them over the railing of the upstairs porch, and watch them flutter earthward. » Continue Reading.
Last year I saw only one monarch butterfly and found only one monarch caterpillar at our house. This is after cultivating milkweed at numerous spots around my yard and planting three seasons of nectar plants. The only other monarchs my family was lucky enough to see were hatched by the Wild Center and at the Paul Smiths VIC Butterfly House as part of their programs to raise awareness regarding the perils of the monarch habitat.
Since milkweed is critically important to monarchs, both butterfly and caterpillars, we decided to widen our milkweed patch. Last fall we did a bit of seed sprinkling along the berm across the street from our house. I followed up with a few phone calls to our town supervisor and highway crew to let them know I could maintain the patch. It was important for me to communicate with as many people as possible. It was an encouraging conversation.
Now that the trees are finally starting to bud, my children and I are on the lookout for young milkweed shoots. We hope that this new patch will encourage a few more butterflies to make our street a monarch stopover.
The Lake George Community Garden Club’s Annual Perennial Plant Sale will be held in Shepard Park, Lake George on Saturday, May 16th from 9 am until 2 pm in conjunction with the Fund for Lake George’s Stewardship with Style Festival on the same weekend, also in Shepard Park.
The annual Perennial Sale offers hundreds of high-quality perennial plants grown and dug from local zone 4 and 5 gardens. Garden Club members will be available to share planting instructions, tips for successful gardening, and other information. The sale will also include a tag sale and the sale of garden art objects created by Garden Club members. » Continue Reading.
I’ve been seeing lots of ferns lately, and maybe you have, too. Most are tricky to identify. Still, there are three big common ones that are easy to know: the bracken, the interrupted, and the cinnamon. Listen here and meet them along the trail in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.
The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement. Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.
My backyard has a mixture of wildflowers and cultivated plants with an eye toward native perennials. I gently move the spring foamflowers, bunchberries and bluets that always manage to pop up in the middle of my kids’ baseball field. I protect the trillium from the puppy and neighborhood kids while making sure nothing invasive has traveled perhaps by squirrel, bird or child. Yes, my child.
I’ve had to educate my daughter that picking roadside plants, (which sometimes includes the roots, which is not a good way of keeping our garden and property safe from Adirondack invasives). Since she is also a fan of gardening, I’ve limited her transplanting to items already located to our property. » Continue Reading.
Vendors, exhibits, speakers and other activities to inspire attractive low impact shoreline landscaping will be featured at the “Stewardship with Style: A Lakescape Event” on Saturday May 10, 2014, from 9 am until 2 pm at Shepard Park in Lake George Village. Displays on rain gardens, shoreline buffers, permeable pavers, invasive species, and native plants, along with kids “make and take” crafts, and the Em2 River Model. There will also be prizes and giveaways. » Continue Reading.
Well, the fall-like weather continues, reminding me every day that winter is coming. But there are still signs of summer besides the humidity to remind me that it’s only August.
For instance, we just finished up our second batch of jam. The first batch was straight blueberry, and we got ten small jelly jars full. This second batch was blueberry-raspberry, with a few random blackberries thrown in just for the heck of it. This batch made twelve full jars, and it looks good. » Continue Reading.
The protection of water quality is of singular great importance for the Adirondack Park and Adirondack communities. In the coming decades, if we are able to maintain stable water quality trends, this will help Adirondack communities enormously, not only for protecting the area’s high quality of life, but economically too. Clean water will be our edge.
Clean water is going to be a commodity that becomes less plentiful in the future. Communities that provide good stewardship for their waters will be communities that have something special to offer in the coming years. » Continue Reading.
Last fall, I went to a nearby wetland with a pair of clippers and cut twigs from one willow shrub after another. It wasn’t hard to tell the willows from the non-willows because willows are the only woody plants in this area whose buds are covered by a single bud scale.
These cute, pointy caps are very different from the overlapping scales that protect most buds through the winter. And the few woody plants with no protective scales are easily recognizable: their naked, embryonic leaves rely on a coating of woolliness to keep them from desiccating or freezing. » Continue Reading.
“What a horrifyingly garish sight,” I said to my friend as we surveyed my Christmas tree last year. We had just finished decorating it and my eyes were sending messages to my brain, like, “Hey, this is really tacky.”
Truth is, the décor I had accumulated after years of city dwelling in my sassy twenties looked awfully out of place in my humble Vermont cabin. What I once thought dazzling – glitter-coated icicles, a miniature disco ball, a purple-feathered bird with jeweled eyes, flocks of shiny gold and green balls – now looked as out of place as a pink flamingo at my bird feeder. Even the duck decoy my great uncle carved seemed to give the gaudy fiasco an alarmed stare. Such a tree no longer belonged in my world. » Continue Reading.
A new edition of the trail and camp food classic The Hungry Hiker’s Book of Good Cooking by Gretchen McHugh has been published by McHugh’s husband John Sullivan of Chestertown. Hungry Hiker was first published in 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf, who assigned Judith Jones its editor (Jones was also editor for Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and before that The Diary of Anne Frank). The book was in Knopf’s catalog for 25 years. It sold 50,000 copies in 13 printings, inspired multitudes of back-country meals, and many imitators.
“When Knopf dropped the book in 2007, we started making plans to revise and republish it,” John Sullivan told me recently (he’s a neighbor, across the valley on Kipp Mountain). “We were barely under way when Gretchen was diagnosed with Frontal-Temporal Dementia.” She moved to a nursing home last spring and John decided to go ahead with the new edition in time for its 30th anniversary. A new generation of readers, now schooled in the kind of 1970s self-sufficiency that served as background to this classic when it was published, will be glad he did. » Continue Reading.
This fall the Lake George Association (LGA) has been at work along waters that flow into Lake George, including Foster Brook in the hamlet of Huletts Landing, and English Brook in Lake George Village. The LGA also partnered with the Warren County Conservation District (WCSWCD), and the towns of Hague and Bolton to remove over 1300 cubic yards of material from eight sediment basins in the two towns, the equivalent of about 110 dump truck loads.
At Huletts, Foster Brook was severely eroded during last year’s Tropical Storm Irene. Lots of unwanted material was deposited along the banks and within the stream, interrupting the natural flow of the water. This material was removed, and some was used, along with new stone, to stabilize the streambanks. In October, dozens of native plants and shrubs were planted along English Brook near its mouth at Lake George. » Continue Reading.
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