Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Woody, my co-worker

Last winter a pair of pileated woodpeckers took up residence in a large beech tree near the Carriage House (the Visitors Center). About once a week a visitor spots this large bird and excitedly reports it to the naturalist. Note the rather large cavity he excavated on the left side of the limb.

Their drumming keeps me company as I work in the garden. It is a thrill to work along side such a gorgeous bird.

Watch for more photos as we try to get a good shot of this funny looking creature.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

What's blooming?

After the volunteers left Saturday and we cleaned up, I took a quick stroll through the woods to see what was blooming. All the spring flowers are still going strong, but I saw the first trillium, Trillium grandiflora, in bloom. Several other species have buds but no blooms yet.

While not a wildflower, anemone blanda is planted in the woods. See how the trout lily picks up the yellow in the anemone.

I had to post another shot because trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) are one of my favorite wildflowers.

The Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are just starting to bloom .

This is another non-native plant in the woods, Leucojum. This is the first bloom but soon there will be lots of blooms on the plant.

Garden Work Day

The garden volunteers are called Garden Porters and yesterday was our first work day of the season. For most, it was the first hands-on encounter with the Star of Bethlehem invaders. They were shocked at the extent of the problem even through they knew there was an issue. The bulbs are so bad, there is no way to plant seeds or even plants in the spring.

Our goal was to renovate the large round bed (focal point) of the lower west garden. Twelve hard-working experienced gardeners working full-tilt for over three hours managed to remove plants and the SoB bulbs from only half of the bed. We did replant Lady's Mantle around the edge. The plants removed are ensconced in the nursery bed plus two wheelbarrows.

Guess what I'm working on next week?

Thursday, April 19, 2007


On Tuesday the greenhouse was finally covered and ready for use. Today I moved the plants I tried to overwinter in the farmhouse into the greenhouse. Someone turned the heat off and most of the plants froze. (It got so cold that a plastic watering can split when the water in it froze.) However, I detected some life in more plants than I thought were still living and am trying to nurse them into life. I also moved about 50 potted bulbs from my living room into the greenhouse. Next I will be moving the seed trays to the site. Then I will have my bay window back.


It was a four-toed salamander found on Boy Scout Island last week.

It's as if the wildflowers pictured in this post went into hibernation for the ten days of freezing temps and snow, as a walk around the site today looked eerily similar to the post. The anemone, bloodroot, toothwort, trout lilies, Dutchmen's breeches and marsh marigolds are in bloom while the trillium, mayapples, twin-leaf are just emerging.

The Star of Bethlehem bulbs are trying to suck the joy out my spring gardening, but I'm fighting back, hauling wheelbarrows full of the boogers out of the garden. I get much joy spotting the tender shoots of the perennials emerge in the spring, but it is hard to see in the beds overrun with SoB foliage. The foliage tends to diminish the spring flowers in bloom, but another problem is that these plants are scattered among the 35 beds. I'm trying to consolidate the spring flowers into a few beds so they put on more of a show.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Salamander on Boy Scout Island

Yesterday a team from Indiana DNR descended upon Boy Scout Island to see what was there. I didn't get to go along but heard that the biologist spotted a salamander that has never been seen in Noble County. No details yet, but I did hear that it lays its eggs on moss and not water. A Google search makes me wonder if it was the four-toed salamander, Hemidactylium scutatum. Females lay eggs in sphagnum moss in April and May.

It was confirmed that none of the buildings could be saved, except for a small chapel.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Boy Scout Island

Thanks to the Sylvan Lake Improvement Association, the view from the site will continue to look like this:

The association had been trying to purchase the 100-acre island across from the site for more than 30 years from the developer who bought it from the Boy Scouts. The association hopes to use it as a nature preserve and are in discussions with the state about managing the preserve and the role of the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic site.

The island was previously owned by the Boy Scouts who sold it when they needed more land for their camp. A tornado in 1974 damaged many of the building on the island and the first thing will be to remove the debris. The stone chapel and natural amphitheater visible from the front porch of Gene's cabin was not damaged.

Gene's cabin is on a point in the lake and the island is on the north side. This is the view from the Cabin when looking east. While the homes are very nice, I prefer the natural view of the island to development.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Early May Flowers in April

Duchmen's breeches

Marsh Marigolds

Trout Lily which Gene called Adder's Tongue

And several types of violets

Spring Whites

A close shot of the Wood Anenome

looks a lot like Bloodroot

Until you count the petals

and look closely at its stamen and pistils.

Of course,

the leaves are significantly different and

it colonizes differently and

the bloodroot is significantly larger.