Superior Views, August 2015

Life on Lake Superior

Hummingbirds and bees love this garden on Lake Superior(background lake)
Hummingbirds and bees love this garden on Lake Superior

Bee balm, hyssop, golden rod, wide leaf aster, cardinal-flower and purple cone flower bring joy!

Bees love golden rod and it is everywhere.
Bees love golden rod and it is everywhere.
The sun sets on August
The sun sets on August

Eagles screech and talk to me as I work in my yard. Hummingbirds are everywhere, and some of the migrating birds crossing the lake are the Nashville Warbler, thrushes, and white throated sparrow.

Beautiful June Days

Lupine on Lake Superior
Lupine on Lake Superior

Superior Views, June 2015

lake superior
lake Superior

Wow, who doesn’t love June? The weather is perfect, and everyday brings new budding/blooming flowers, birds and butterflies. The red-eyed vireo, song sparrow, and least fly-catcher sing constantly in our yard.  Painted lady, northern-crescent, and tiger swallowtail butterflies add to the beauty of the days.

Nothern-Cresent in Daisy Fleabane
Northern-crescent in a Daisy Fleabane

The best plants are those that pollinators frequent. The bees and the hummingbirds love

Bees buzz on the flowering candlesticks of this maple
Bees buzz on the flowering candlesticks of this maple

the wild geranium, and the flowering maple is a favorite for bees and many birds.
The dominant roadside flowers are daisies, lupine, hawkweed and buttercups that create a beautiful mix designed by nature.  Unfortunately, the road crew of my town cut down all these blooming beauties.  So much for our butterflies and bees which are now in a struggle to survive.  Mowing roadsides in late September would help pollinators and enhance enjoyment for you and me.

Hummingbirds and Bees Frequent the Wild Geranium
Hummingbirds and Bees Frequent the Wild Geranium

Life in an Urban Garden

Spiderwort are blooming
Spider-wort are blooming

Everything is green and lush.  Everyone loves their yard in June. Whether you have a grass turf yard or native plants, urban yards are beautiful.  How can you create a vibrant living landscape with a more friendly tilt to pollinators?

I watch the monarch butterflies and the swallow tiger tail and hope they leaving eggs as

Pearly Everlasting
Pearly Everlasting

they flit around. The painted lady butterflies have deposited egg fuzz on the pearly everlasting making them look wilted and sick.  In just a short time the caterpillars will emerge and the pearlys will be normal and healthy.  Hopefully, the cycle will continue and new butterflies will live long enough to plant more eggs. Birds eat these butterflies.

The native Canada Anemone is blooming now!
The native Canada Anemone is blooming now!

The columbine and the wild geranium have almost completed their blooms, but the Canada Anemone and the spider-wort are magnificent!

We are digging our rain gardens deeper and wider.  Then we plant blazing star, cardinal-flower, and turtle head to the bottom of these rain capturing gardens. The butterflies, bees and hummingbirds will love these new additions.

See the article below for ways you can  create a vibrant living landscape with a more friendly tilt to pollinators:  

Are We losing What We love?

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss

This story breaks my heart.  It will be a sadder earth if we lose our Midwest monarchs. The news story below highlights what is harming and happening to the monarch butterflies that we love.    Article on the loss of our monarchs

The new farm bill has passed.  Does the farm bill do anything to protect our pollinators?*** When I travel through the heartland of the United States, even Kansas and Missouri, I see mostly fields of corn and soybeans which they often irrigate, and require the use heavy herbicides. Wheat production which is better for our earth has become a minor player!! Below a monarch expert offers her ideas.

This is a quote from monarch expert, Karen Oberhauser, of the Universtiy of Minnesota:

The vast majority of monarchs that arrive in Mexico grew up eating milkweed in the United States and Canada, according to Karen Oberhauser, professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied the monarch for more than 30 years, and is a leading scientist on this butterfly. “Numerous lines of evidence demonstrate that the Corn Belt in the US Midwest is the primary source for monarchs hibernating in Mexico,” said Oberhauser. Large part of the monarchs’ reproductive habitat in this region has been lost to changing agricultural practices, namely an explosion in the use of crops that allow post-emergence treatment with herbicides. “These genetically modified crops have resulted in the extermination of milkweed from many agricultural habitats,” added Oberhauser.

One of the few monarch buttlerflies in 2013
One of the few monarch butterflies in 2013

What can we all do?  Controlling farmers is impossible, but in our yards there are a few things we can do to have a healthier yard.

*Reduce your use of chemicals by reducing your lawn just a small amount and plant milkweed, liatris, coneflowers, butterfly weed, and menardia (bee balm) or for shade heart leaf asters or wild geraniums.

 *Plant common milkweed, and more milkweed.  Encourage nurseries and garden stores to carry it.  It must be native to your area!! See link to purchase local milkweed:

*Do not support GMO products, but purchase organic products

*Never never use lawn products that contain Neonicotinoids.

*By helping to save butterflies we help all pollinators, AND we help the health of our families. Following is a great article on ways to have a healthy yard:

*Join a native plant organization, like Wild Ones, in your area and  Everything to know about monarchs and more.

 ***From the Union of Concerned Scientist on the just passed farm bill:

“While the local foods and organic programs fared well in this farm bill, the USDA’s conservation programs didn’t make out as well. With our “healthy farm vision,” UCS advocated for increased funding for programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program, which provide incentives for farmers to prevent water pollution, plant cover crops, and preserve wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, these programs have been cut by $6.1 billion, or 9.5 percent over 10 years. “(The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition)

The Best Place on Earth in August, Lake Superior!

Perfect Weather and Great Views

Even Cedar Wax Wings Enjoy the View
Even Cedar Wax Wings Enjoy the View

The air is dry and temperatures are comfortable with a slight breeze.  Most days the sun shines, and the big lake moderates the hot extreme.   Daylight still hangs on until about 8:30PM.  It is perfect kayaking weather and the big lake is a rich blue hue.  Breathing the refreshing air feels healthy, and you wish for these marvelous days to linger forever.

The ripe red elderberry berries bring a family of hairy woodpeckers, red-eyed vireo and some very noisy blue jays to our yard.  The hummingbirds love anything red, pink or purple.  The call of loons, sand hill cranes, and pileated woodpeckers haunt the air.

St John's Wort with vervain
St John’s Wort with vervain

Best pollinator plants blooming now are the common milkweed, thistle, and the St John’s Wort.  The native bee balm hasn’t bloomed yet, and the hyssop and golden rod are a few days away from vying for best pollinator plant!

Fritillary on Thistle
Fritillary on Thistle

Our friend, the fox, visits daily, stares at us for 2 minutes and then trots off.  Some days he brings a mate. Sightings of does and her babies are unusually rare.

Sunset on Lake Superior
Sunset on Lake Superior