Long time Wild Ones member Heather Holm, author of such books as Pollinators of Native Plants and Bees, will be featured at this year’s Fox Cities Book Festival in Wisconsin. On Monday, October 8th at 6:30PM, she will speak at the Elisha D Smith Public Library in Menasha about “The Pollination of Native Plants,” and on Tuesday, October 9th at 10:00AM, she will speak at the WILD Center in Neenah about “Gardening for Bees and Butterflies.” Copies of her books will be available for sale at both sessions. [Read more…]
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Reference my earlier post dated December 5, 2016 entitled Fall Habitat Maintenance and the comment from Stephen Thomforde regarding heterogeneity as it relates to leaving the leaves. Specifically Stephen wanted to remind us that we should “manage our landscape in ways that mimic biomass harvest by grazing animals and biotic fire.”
I thought with this post I would add to the list of things to do for fall clean-up mentioned in the above referenced post. [Read more…]
One of the things I learned from Heather Holm‘s recent participation in the Fox Cities Book Festival was to leave the flower stems from my prairie plants standing for use by the solitary bees for their nests. What a novel idea! Heather suggested cutting the stems of the prairie plants at about 12 to 15 inches above the ground, anywhere from late May to early June — well after the overwintering insects had left their beds.
Cutting the Stem
Leaving 15 inches of stem sounds like an okay thing to do until you realize the highest most mowers cut is 6 inches. Hm-m. Now what? Heather uses a hand-held cutting implement, perhaps like a really sharp hedge shears or a grass shears to cut the stems of her plants.
That would, however, be a humongous feat with a prairie my size or larger. I do already break off the stems of the taller plants, but I typically leave the shorter plants just as they are unless I’m able to burn a quarter of my prairie in the spring. Looks like I’ll need to be a little extra diligent about breaking over stem tops of all heights.
As I’ve researched this more closely, I’ve learned not all plants work as well for bee nests as some others. Okay, that reduces the amount of cutting and breaking off. The plants that work best have long, linear, strong flower stalks and can be of varying diameters:
- Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida)
- Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)
- Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)
- Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida)
- Tall Coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteria)
- Asters (Symphyotrichum spp)
- Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea)
- Cupplant, Rosinweed, Compass Plant, Prairie Dock (Silphium spp)
- Sunflowers (Helianthus spp)
- Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp)
- Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
- Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans)
- Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis)
- Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
- Big Bluestem (Andropogon geradii)
- Raspberry (Rubus spp)
- Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp)
Bees also use the pithy stems of woody plants such as:
- Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)
- Elderberry (Sambucus spp)
- Sumac (Rhus spp)
- Walnut (Juglans spp)
So, don’t be so quick to prune dead branches from trees and shrubs, and leave some piles of twigs and branches in your garden.
You can read about this and other interesting information about bees in Heather’s book Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide. It also contains an excellent bee and plant identification guide.
The Environmental Protection Act
In the 1960s, smog was killing Americans, lakes were so low on oxygen they sustained little life, and there was a 400 square mile oil spill off the coast of California that killed bird and other wildlife. Nixon had just become president with a mandate to find some way to fix the environmental problems and stop pollution.
Shortly after taking office, Nixon set up the Environmental Quality Council with the mission to solve these problems. The Environmental Policy Act of 1969 was signed into law on January 1, 1970. Later he signed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act into law. The Environmental Protection Agency which was the administration arm of these Acts became effective December 2, 1970 with William D Ruckelshaus at its head. [Read more…]