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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


All of the ash trees in our area have been infested by the emerald ash borer, according to a local tree service, and once enough of the larvae are present in a tree, there is no saving it. This morning the sound of chain saws in the park across the street let me know that another dead ash was being taken down, joining the ash allee that we lost last year.

The tree closest to us is still hanging on, having put out new leaves on its few still-living branches,

but a look at the whole tree shows that it will likely not be with us long.

The entrance wound looks so insignificant,

but this tree, and every other not-quite-dead ash I have seen is covered with these little holes. When the tree finally dies, and its bark falls off, this is what we will see:

almost uncountable swirls, tracks of the larvae of the borer.

This little insect is another invasive brought to this continent through human carelessness, most experts think from eggs in the wood of packing crates from Asia. Since 2002, it has eaten its way through twenty-two US states and two Canadian provinces.

Every time I see an ash that is still trying to live, I want to apologize. No one meant to doom this gorgeous tree, but in many places, doomed it is.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

If you plant it, they will come

At least, that seems to be true around here. As young as our garden is, it is definitely bringing in the wildlife, at least of the small variety. One particular echinacea seems to be a particular draw, with a single blossom sporting a bumblebee and a silver-spotted skipper (here choosing not to show its silver spots).

The same clump invited several visits from this little guy or gal (a sachem, I think), who visited every blossom on the plant in the few minutes I watched.

A potted rudbeckia hosted this moth caterpillar,

and while I have not been able to get pictures, the front wildflower bed has been attracting fritillaries and crescents.

The hummingbirds showed up a few weeks ago and are making use of the lonicera sempervirens and (much as it pains me to admit it) the rose of sharon hedge between us and the neighbors. Today one decided to buzz me while I sat on the patio contemplating possible garden modifications. Cardinals nested in the spruce tree this spring, and there is lots of bird activity in the lawn strip dogwoods.

But the biggest excitement has been the appearance of a female monarch, repeatedly nectaring at a swamp milkweed still in its pot. I have not noticed eggs but will be very happy if the plant ends up defoliated by monarch caterpillars. (Perhaps we wildlife gardeners are a tad eccentric.)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Another historical discovery

On my way to the Toledo Museum of Art this morning, my eyes were drawn to a National Park Service sign, in this case for Fort Miamis, a place of which I had never heard. I of course knew that northwest Ohio had figured in the War of 1812, as it is known in these parts, but not that the town of Maumee grew up around what had been a British military installation.

Fort Miamis, it turns out, was founded in reaction to the Northwest Ordinance, touted in my part of Ohio as a cornerstone of democracy in what is now the Midwest but was then the frontier. The Brits, of course, viewed the ordinance as American expansion and a threat to their interests in Canada, and the indigenous peoples were not consulted and were, shall we say, not pleased, leading to the Indian wars of the 1790s.

Fort Miamis was surrendered to US forces in a 1796 treaty but reoccupied by British and their native allies during the War of 1812. It is perhaps best known as the site of "Dudley's Defeat," an 1813 battle in which more than a hundred US troops, who had successfully completed their initial objective but then over-enthusiastically pursued some native stragglers, were captured by British and native forces. The native groups, perhaps a bit over-enthusiastic themselves, began making their prisoners run the gauntlet, resulting in a number of dead prisoners. Tecumseh, when he arrived, was horrified at the treatment of unarmed captives.

Most interesting to me is that a lone British soldier, Private Patrick Russell, attempted to intervene. No officers bothered. Private Russell was killed by his erstwhile allies; the Ohio Historical Society has erected a plaque in his memory.

Of this extensive military outpost, all that remains is the defensive trench. The sharpened stakes that served to hold off invaders are long gone.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Another public good

Simpson Garden Park is a city park in Bowling Green, Ohio, eleven acres of gardens and gardens in the making. This is a young park, first imagined in 2002, with the first plants going in the ground in 2009 after a major fundraising campaign that raised $750,000 to supplement public money. For a not-yet-mature garden, the results are quite satisfying.

Entry to the formal gardens

Of course, the "wow" factor this time of year is largely a result of the daylily walk, with a lineup of Stout Silver Medal winners and other flagrantly gorgeous daylilies and companions.

Yes, those colors are real and unretouched. The plant is called "Tigereye Spider" and has inspired serious plant lust (and me running out of sunny planting areas--sigh).

I am always gratified to see plantings by gardeners who share my sense of color--basically, the more, the better.

The Simpson Gardens, however, have something for everyone. A Children's Discovery Garden is located next to the Simpson Building, which contains meeting rooms. In addition to plants (including the biggest ironweed I have ever seen--move than six feet tall and not yet in bloom), the children's garden contains a water feature, bridge, artwork, and this whimsical cottage.

And for those who prefer their gardens a bit more restful, the park includes a Japanese garden and an impressive hosta collection, along with a native plant section, a sculpture garden, and a medicinal plant garden currently under development.

The Simpson is definitely worth a return visit.