Pollinator Passion

“Nature is a way to escape to a healing place!” John Caddy

First there were four, then there were seven, now there are over ten monarch butterflies playing tag in my yard. This has been going on for two months. Monarchs are passionate for meadow blazing star (Liatris), and they get excited when the blazing star is blooming.  Watching them makes one happy.

Monarch butterflies love blazing star!

Our world is in crisis and we need to find ways to lessen stress on our Earth.  We know droughts, incredible heat, fires, floods, and smoky air are causing people, trees and wildlife to move to safer places or even die. Human behavior has helped to create this awful situation, and new paradigms are needed to lessen our carbon footprint. We already know that the world needs us to drive less, use less water, eat less meat, buy less, and reduce our plastic footprint.

What can we do more of that is actually good? Making a healthy change to your yard by planting native plants is a positive action you can take. Deep-rooted native plants are a win-win for our earth! They do not need chemicals and they do not need watering.

The native plants growing in my yard have produced way beyond my expectations during this harsh summer environment. Because deep-rooted plants don’t need to be watered and don’t use chemicals they create a healthier environment, and an important way to help our Earth.  Planting earth friendly plants will bring more birds and butterflies to visit your yard.  A pollinator garden brings joy many months of the year, but especially in July and August when the pollinators are crazy over nectaring plants.

How do you create this healing place for yourself and the birds and butterflies in your neighborhood? Remove some hostas and turf grass and replace them with native deep-rooted plants. You can create your own eco-system of life in your own yard. Start simple!

milkweed

Start by planting some milkweek and bee balm

and purple cone flowers.

Every yard should have purple cone flowers

Native gardens are an eco-system of their own creating food and joy for pollinators and humans alike! Create your own escape from the world by using deep-rooted plants to invite birds, butterflies and other wildlife into your space. Many birds raise their babies on the insects and caterpillars they find in the pollinator garden. Birds eat seed from the native plants all year. The goldfinch are already eating away on the bee balm, cone flowers and brown eye Susan.

hummingbirds love cardinal flowers

Cardinal flowers will bring humming-birds to your yard, but cardinal flower is not drought tolerant.

Reading list:

Study: Birds Are Linked to Happiness Levels – EcoWatch 

Wild Ones Introduces Free, Native Garden Designs – Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes

Earth Overshoot Day Moves Forward By Nearly a Month – EcoWatch

How Non-Native Plants Are Contributing to a Global Insect Decline – Yale E360 

Could Las Vegas’s Grass Removal Policies Alter the Western US Drought-Scape? | Sierra Club

Pollinator-Friendly Alternative to Hosta and Daylily – Monarch GardensCornus alternifolia Pagoda Dogwood | Prairie Moon Nursery

Weed garden wins RHS gold at Tatton Park flower show – BBC News 

Soft Landings – Bee and Pollinator Books by Heather Holm (pollinatorsnativeplants.com)

Top US scientist on melting glaciers: ‘I’ve gone from being an ecologist to a coroner’ | Climate change | The Guardian    

What Brings you Joy?

This morning a cardinal and other birds were singing, I worked in a community garden with friends, and I saw a new butterfly. This brings me joy.

As this pandemic retreats, what is bringing you joy? Being outside, seeing birds, butterflies and new lush green plants? The beginning of June has brought hiking, biking and gardening and lots of joyful outside time for me. Seeing people in person again has also been a time of joy and freedom.  I am so thankful for the science and the vaccines that have made it possible for us to get our lives back. It is now time to get back to enjoying everyday! Take pictures of what brings you joy, and send them to us.

swallow tail butterfly

Butterflies bring joy

milkweed

What are the special events to celebrate in June? June 5,  is World Environment Day, June 8 is World Oceans Day and June 19, is Juneteenth. June 20 is Father’s Day. All of June is Pride and Gun Violence Awareness Month. See the Actions for Happiness calendar below for joyful ideas. This June take pictures of what brings you joy. Send them to us.

Take care of our beautiful Earth

World Environment Day , This is our moment.

We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature.

Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid. 

Join #GenerationRestoration

READING LIST:

 Hundreds of lakes losing oxygen:  https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-york/articles/2021-06-02/hundreds-of-lakes-in-us-europe-are-losing-oxygen#:~:text=

7 Educational Nature Activities for Kids You Can Do at Home This Summer – EcoWatch

UN World Oceans Day 2021 – UN World Oceans Day  

Join the Fresh Start Challenge! – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Six skills we need as citizens who can’t agree on scientific facts – StarTribune.com

Biden takes aim at all factors hampering Black Americans – StarTribune.com 

98 stories of garbage: State plans to expand 4 over-stuffed landfills in metro – Twin Cities 

‘The Ancient Woods’ Review: Deep in the Forest – The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

15 Healthy Foods That RDs Say Will Make You Happier | Eat This Not That  

 June 19th is Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.

June is Gun Violence Awareness Month. 

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence will mark Wear Orange weekend June 4-6, and we will honor and remember the lives, families, and communities who have suffered and continue to suffer the ongoing scourge of American gun violence.

Take pictures of what brings you JOY

Plant Flowers Loved by Bees and Butterflies

I love the bee yards that are popping up in my neighborhood. Homeowners are getting the message that turf grass yards are food deserts for pollinators. Our bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and moths have been devastated by habitat loss and excess chemical use. We can all make a simple difference by planting a few plants for them.

As we celebrate World Bee Day make an effort to add some pollinator environment to your yard. Native plants are the best because they have deep roots and don’t need watering or chemicals. I don’t trust some plants from garden stores, I worry about what they could have been sprayed and treated with?? We don’t want to plant for bees and butterflies only to add more chemicals to their bodies! Shop garden shops that can answer your questions. Native plants should be chemical free. Everyday we have an impact on our community, make it positive.

The reading list below has good suggestions for bee lawns. Bee balm, wild geranium, culvers root, milkweed, cone flowers, asters, and Joe Pye weed are some of my favorites for attracting both bees and butterflies.

Bee Balm

A garden workhorse for pollinators

Joe Pye Weed

Cone flowers

Bees like yellow flowers

Native plants have deep roots.

Reading List:

6 Ways to Transform Your Lawn Into an Eco-Friendly Oasis – EcoWatch

How to Turn Your Yard Into an Ecological Oasis | YES! Magazine (yesmagazine.org)

Angelina Jolie Raises Pollinator Awareness With Bee-Covered Portrait – EcoWatch 

Pollinator Lawn – Blue Thumb

Bee Lawns | Bee Lab (umn.edu)

To Help Save Bumble Bees, Plant These Flowers in Your Spring Garden – EcoWatch

Why You Should Grow a Lawn for Bees (treehugger.com)

http://www.queenofthesun.com/get-involved/10-things-you-can-do-to-help-bees/ 

Pollinator Garden Plants and Practices | Habitat Network (yardmap.org)

Gardening for Wildlife with Native Plants (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) 

30 Unique Plants That Attract Butterflies (treehugger.com)

Happy Arbor Day

Trees are strength and beauty, resilience and change

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Snags, or dead trees, also give life to wildlife and landscapes. Don’t cut them down unless they are a danger to humans or buildings.

Trees can be dead but full of life and survival. Snags are home to many plants and animals

Fungi growing on a dead tree

Birds love dead trees, and many animals rely on dead, dying or hollow-rotted trees. Woodpeckers, bats, ants and caterpillars live in snags. Woodpeckers nest in cavities excavated in snags (or dead parts of living trees) while using those same dead trees to drill for food.

Trees offer shelter and safe places to perch and watch and rest. Trees, dead and live are complete neighborhoods. Dead trees are actually teeming with life! Fallen logs and snags play a vital role in the lifecycles of hundreds of species of wildlife, providing a place to nest, rest, eat and grow. Before you cut or burn logs and trees realize it is a vital part of the neighborhood!

Many birds rest and watch in this tree

Before you cut a leafless tree. Remember it is a friend to lots of birds and wildlife.

March Motivation

mindful march
Spread kindness and touch the earth

May March sunshine on your shoulders make you happy!

Happy March! Be kind to the Earth, be kind to yourself, and be kind to others! The Actions for Happiness calendar ( below) has many good suggestions to be more mindful and spread kindness.

March brings me joy. The longer days and the hope of spring are motivators to get outside and notice the changes, even if it is just melting snow. Everyday the outdoor world is waiting to be explored, your own neighborhood is perfect. Even 5 minutes of mindful observation will lighten your mood. Breathe, smell the earth, let the sun, rain and snow tickle your face, touch the wind, talk to the trees, hear the sunrise/night fall, smile and be kind.

This March pay attention to how you can reduce your carbon footprint: Can you reduce idling your car or drive less? Can you eat less meat and waste less food? How can you reduce the waste and plastic you generate? Can you buy less things and be a smarter consumer? Just doing a little bit can make a positive difference. Thank you and good luck!

Reading List:

Embrace Winter challenge: Go bird-watching or stargazing – StarTribune.com 

Making ourselves worthy of our vaccine – StarTribune.com 

UN Releases Scientific Blueprint to Address Climate Emergencies – EcoWatch

Sounds of Silence: The Extinction Crisis Is Taking Away the Earth’s Music – EcoWatch 

Enjoy many good suggestions below to have a Mindful March:

be mindful
Be mindful of your footprint on Earth

Superior Views Fall 2020

Peace and Hope

Vibrant fall colors that take your breath away, unusual cloud formations and migrating birds bring joy on this big lake. Autumn beauty brings a break from this pandemic and the raw politics of this election season.
Our nesting birds have left for warmer climes, but migrating yellow-rumped warblers dive at our house chasing flies. Juvenile white- throated sparrows practice imperfect singing, and groups of juncos are abundant. The chickadees are emptying their feeder and chipmunks are underfoot as they busily prepare for a long winter.
A month after the monarchs had left for Mexico, I was surprised to find a caterpillar munching on an old yellow milkweed. I moved the lone caterpillar to a healthy milkweed, but there probably isn’t time enough time for it to form a chrysalis and a mature monarch butterfly. I can only hope it was able to complete it’s cycle, and catch a strong north wind to Mexico.
This year not all politics is forgotten. Campaign signs popped up on our road which I haven’t seen before, but the vast majority were hopeful signs of kindness for this northern Wisconsin community.

Happy Hummingbird Day!

1061781.jpg (525×640)

The Humming-bird
Like thoughts that flit across the mind,
Leaving no lasting trace behind,
The humming-bird darts to and fro,
Comes, vanishes before we know.
by Jones Very

hummingbirds love cardinal flowers
Cardinal flowers will bring humming-birds to your yard

What birds bring you Joy? The hummingbird is like a cute little fairy. It is magical how it hovers and darts.   We do everything we can to attract them to our yard. They love red native plants.

Their migration has begun and they are fueling their tiny bodies for a long journey. It is always sad to say goodbye, but they’ll be back next spring. The first Saturday in September is National Hummingbird Day!

Hummingbirds and bees love this red
menardia

Superior Views, Summer 2020

Extra fresh? Extra wet? Extra extra? Extra beautiful? Extra Great? Extra gitchy? Extra deep? Extra wide? Extra voluminous? Extra fishy? Extra rocky? Extra clean? Extra cold? Extra Superior?” @Lake Superior (twitter)

monarch butterfly
Monarch on goldenrod

Yes, extra Superior! A world pandemic is still raging, elected leaders incite violence, forest fires and hurricanes are constant, but no drama on Lake Superior. By  August the lake has warmed and the contrast between the cold lake and warm air isn’t so extreme causing less drama. This lack of drama makes the big lake more peaceful as the gentle waves ripple to shore.

The loons call, and the eagles screech from their tree towering over the lake.  The hummingbirds like little fairies hover and suck nectar from the last of the plants as they prepare for  their long journey south.

Frittilary butterfly in July
August garden on Lake Superior.

Plants are turning brown, and yellow golden rod dominates. Blooming plants were early this year so they lose energy and turn brown sooner. Only a few butterflies remain, they have been replaced by grasshoppers, and like the birds the chipmunks are already busy preparing for winter.

July was a perfect time to indulge in watching butterflies and monarch caterpillars. Every new caterpillar was a celebration. Unfortunately, something else found them to be joyful food, and they disappeared.  We suspect the chipmunks. Their numbers were too many this year, and they seemed to be watching my treasured caterpillars as much as I was!  Every new butterfly I see I hope they were one of my precious fat caterpillars.

hummingbid sits at feeder
Female ruby-throat hummingbird

Surprisingly,  in July the lake had a harder time keeping us cool from the hot humid summer south of us, but August brought 70 degrees days while a hundred miles south it was a hot humid 90 degrees.

On to September and more change, turning leaves and intense beauty! Extra beautiful!

 

A Magical Time on Lake Superior

swallow tail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly

June can be the best time of the year for pollinators. In northern Wisconsin and Minnesota it is an awesome time for seeing bees, and butterflies! Within two minutes I observed monarchs, swallowtails, sulphurs, northern crescents, painted ladies, dragon flies, and many skippers and bees on a small patch of hawkweed and daisies.

Hawkweed
Orange Hawkweed

Everyone comments about the beautiful lupine near Lake Superior, and it is beautiful to human eyes. If you look closely, very few butterflies and bees crave lupine like they crave Canadian anemone, blooming chives, wild geraniums, blooming trees, forget-me-nots or daisies. The blooming plant that has surprised me the most this year is the orange hawkweed. It is not a native plant, but the butterflies love it.

Female American Redstart

It’s not the best time of the year to see birds, but if you can recognize their songs they bring constant musical joy. The song sparrow, chestnut sided warbler, and a pair of red starts joyfully sing all day.

Lupine on Lake Superior

As long as the sun shines the birds, bees and butterflies seem oblivious to the battle taking place on the big lake. The cold lake ties to dominate the warm tropical winds from the south, and the temperature can fluctuate from 60 degrees to 80 degrees every few minutes. It’s fascinating and refreshing!
The days are long in these northern climes with the sun setting past 9pm and twilight lasting beyond 10pm. No matter where you live get outside and enjoy the marvelous butterflies of summer, in a few weeks they will be gone!