Our Front Yard

The milkweed is up in the front flowerbed. Hopefully some monarch butterflies will show up soon to lay eggs on it and my monarch nursery will be in business for this year.

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The day lilies are still just green – no bud stalks yet. I’ll try to cut the buds before the deer eat them (enjoy them in vases indoors) and just leave the greenery behind. There are some black eyed susans that should offer some yellow to the beds once the temperature is warm enough.

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The smell of mint rises as I pull weeds – I try to leave the mint behind.

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There are plenty of weeds and grass to pull in the front flower beds. It helps to have the day lilies shading out some of them.

The ninebark bush has some blooms this year and seems to be healthier. Maybe the deer did not eat it as much this past winter.

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I have one iris that is about ready to bloom. I cut it to take inside a few days after this picture was taken. The other irises have leaves but no stalks yet. They do seem to be recovering from whatever ate most of the rhizomes year before last.

Virginia creeper is growing on the oak. I’m leaving it for now because I like the contrast it makes with the day lily leaves around the base of the tree.

Over all – I’m slowly making progress to get the front flower beds looking lush with greenery and weed-free. The Next chore will be trimming the bushes. There is one I will wait on; it has a catbird nesting in it.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 11, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Epic Proportions - Archaeology Magazine – Standard measures of Stonehenge and other Neolithic monuments?

Potassium: Soaps and radioactive bananas | Compound Interest – Potassium regulates blood pressure and transmission of nerve impulses in our bodies!

Colorful Birds  and Terrestrial birds – From the National Geographic Society. Still catching up on the backlog. I enjoy birding – and seeing birds in action…and photographs of birds taken by others. That’s why these photographic collections show up on my gleanings list.

BBC - Future - The princess who transformed war medicine – A little medical history not widely known from the early 1900s.

Ancient secrets of medicinal mint -- ScienceDaily – There are so many members of the mint family. This article is about the DNA sequencing from a plant…learning how to more rapidly tap the therapeutic benefits of that plant and the mint family at large.

Four Out of 10 Americans Breathe Unhealthy Air - Yale E360 – That’s 141 million people…up 7 million since last year….partly due to impacts of climate change on air quality. So – we need to find ways to clean up air better than we do now either by reducing emissions or cleaning them out once they are produced.

Aging gracefully: Study identifies factors for healthy memory at any age -- ScienceDaily – The good news is that some of the factors are things we can control - engaging in more social activities, more novel cognitive activities, losing excess weight, and living with others.

What is a Naturalized Outdoor Learning Environment? -The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) program….daily access to the outdoors for young children. When I was growing up, we were outdoors most days but that is not happening consistently these days. I applaud the initiatives that are honing ways to get children outdoors more.

Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered - The New York Times – A hefty article on the topic…with pull down details.

Medical guidelines may be biased, overly aggressive in US -- ScienceDaily – Thought provoking. How is a patient to know when a doctor recommends a test or procedure that it is truly in the best interest of the patient when the doctor has a financial interest in the recommendation, or the doctor is so specialized that they always think their specialty is the best solution?

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 20, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

People who feed birds impact conservation -- ScienceDaily – A study of the impact people have on birds….and the impact feeding birds has on the people!

Bird Species Impacted By Cutthroat Declines At Yellowstone – Colonial water birds have declined as the lake trout have increased (and cutthroat trout had decreased) in Yellowstone Lake. There could be other reasons for the decline of the pelicans, Caspian terns, and cormorants….more study needed.

Medicinal Uses of Mint: IBS, Itching, Nausea, and More | Berkeley Wellness - Human studies of peppermint in enteric-coated capsule form….confirming some of the benefits of peppermint oil. I like the peppermint flavor…so like fresh mint in salads and hot/cold water…the smell and the flavor are wonderful, so the other positive actions mint may have are just ‘icing’ on an already appreciated cake.

In ancient oceans that resembled our own, oxygen loss triggered mass extinction -- ScienceDaily – Oceans are big but they have reached tipping points in the past. This study looks closely at the Silurian Period…the conditions then and what happened with those conditions…making comparisons to the oceans of today.

What An Aging Population Means For The Future Of The Internet – The average age in many countries is trending older…how does that trend ripple into how the internet is used/misused?

Deciphering the walnut genome: Findings could lead to new walnut varieties -- ScienceDaily – Creating hybrids of English walnuts (the most widely sold form of walnuts sold in the US for human consumption) with native Texas Black Walnuts that have better resistance to soil borne pathogens currently impacting the crop.

Why Is Cancer More Common in Men Than in Women? | The Scientist Magazine® - Studying cancer-linked cellular differences between males and females.

Çatalhöyük, Turkey's Stone Age settlement that took the first steps toward city life – Only 4% of the site has been excavated….still a lot to learn.

To build the cities of the future, we must get out of our cars – Letting nature into the core of the city.

A Colonial-Era Cemetery Resurfaces in Philadelphia - The New York Times – Teasing out the history from remains of a cemetery that was supposed to have be moved years ago…but maybe wasn’t entirely.

Morning Walk at Mt. Pleasant (part 2)

Today I’m focusing on the plants I photographed during my morning walk earlier this week at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant. The seed pods on the sweet bay magnolia are in all stages of development: from green to

Seeds bursting from the pod (I always think they look like red M&Ms) and then pods that are mostly empty and dry.

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There are always chicory flowers after each rain. I liked the blurs of yellow and green behind this macro image.

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Goldenrod is beginning to bloom. Goldenrod is one of the nectar plants for butterflies into the fall. People thought it caused their terrible fall allergies but now ragweed is said to be the primary culprit.

There was Queen Ann’s Lace in the meadow as well. It’s always interesting to me how different a plant appears in the macro view.

As I hiked along the narrow path near the stream there was a young sycamore that had leaves that were beginning to lose their chlorophyll for fall. The leaves were backlit so I took some macro images to show the changes.

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There are still new leaves being unfurled on the tree too; this one was about the size of a dime.

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Thistles are not very friendly looking! Too many prickles.

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Bind weed is an occasional plant in the meadow. The flowers always look like they have little pleats.

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This mint flower – taken from above with the macro lens – was coated with morning dew.

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Dandelions are always attention getters. They look a bit like bursts of fireworks…or yellow streamers.

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Even the clovers that are usually not noticed have a unique beauty seen through the macro lens.

Do you recognize mile-a-minute? It’s an invasive plant that grows very quickly and has wicked thorns.

And now for the Pokeweed. The ones I photographed were still blooming and the fruits that were formed were still green. They’ll turn purple later…and the stem will be bright pink. I’ll remember to photograph the plants through the fall to track their development.

By the end of the walk – I was hot…ready to cool off in the air-conditioned car as I drove home and to drink a lot of water.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center - Part II

Continuing about my day at SERC last Friday…

I got to SERC early enough that I walked around a small pond and took my first pictures of marshmallows.

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There were more of them in the marsh near the boardwalk as we made our way out to Hog Island. They were – by far – the biggest flowers of the area.

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A tiny flower that I photographed along the trail from very close up was a mint. I was careful to look for poison ivy and plants with thorns before I positioned myself to take the picture.

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And then there were trees…trees with lichen…a canopy of green…a pathway lined with green.

There are ongoing studies that make exact measurements of tree trunks over time. Metal bands are used; they expand as the tree grows and the amount they have expanded is measured.

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There were trees with holes in their trunks. The rows of holes are probably made by a bird – a yellow-bellied sapsucker. I remembered seeing a similar tree during my last hike at Belmont and being thrilled that the campers already knew the bird that made the holes!

There are young paw paw trees in the forest and I realized that I had seen these at Belmont as well. I know the tree from its bark but not is leaves!

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There was a standing dead tree that had the thickest collection of shelf fungus I’ve ever seen.

A sickly dogwood had more colorful bark that I am used to seeing on a dogwood.

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As we got back to the cluster of buildings – on the road by the geothermal well area – there were some sycamores – with a few skeletonized leaves…something was eating them…and the last flower of the day:

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Some black eyed susans.

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After the hike, we had lunch followed by a lecture about orchids. The North American Orchid Conservation Center is based at SERC and there are 9 native orchids that have been found there! We saw one on the earlier hike (the cranefly orchid) – unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of it. The website for the organization - https://northamericanorchidcenter.org/ - is full of get information about native orchids and there is a colelction of orchid-gami printables if you want to make paper models of orchids!