special weed issue: name them, understand them, tackle them
A recent visitor brought me a gift: a little wooden sign to hang outside the door that says, “Ring bell. If no answer, pull weeds.”
It’s dandelion season
here, and dock is growing by leaps and bounds, as is chickweed, ground ivy, and you name it. Garlic mustard is in flower on the roadside, no doubt heading my way. I called for help!
weedy ‘aha’s’ from a top expert
I preach the doctrine of “Know thy weeds,” believing that you cannot possibly subdue plants whose life cycles and survival strategies you do not know.
One of the best resources ever is “Weeds of North America,” from University of Chicago Press, co-authored by Richard Dickinson. It profiles 500 species, each depicted in photos
at every life phase from seed to seedling to full plant and leaf and flower detail. There will be no mistaking weed from wildflower or garden plant again.
Richard explains how weeds get so good at being weedy, and what their environmental impact is beyond space-hogging (e.g., spreading plant diseases, or harming monarch butterflies). I got a 101 on how to “key out” one weed from another, using simple clues like a taxonomist
recap from last issue: baby birds! it's that time
It’s nesting season, and what better time to talk “Baby
Birds”? That’s the title of wildlife rehabilitator and artist Julie Zickefoose’s newest book, and she shared with me some of what she saw, and learned, in creating it. More than 400 watercolor paintings and the stories of her intimate encounters bring the unseen to light, illuminating survival strategies and developmental stages of 17 species. Astonishing.
Plus, a chance to win this luscious and
plus, what's that smell? it's voodoo, not
I thought my dairy-farmer neighbors had spread the slurry stashed in winter, the unsweetest smell of a rural spring, but a reassuring one, since recycled animal “waste” makes great fertilizer. But when I went outside the smell was gone—meaning it wasn’t moodoo after all but in fact voodoo. Specifically the voodoo lily, Sauromatum, a potted plant sitting in my mudroom waiting for the weather to settle before
it goes outdoors.