There are many different trees here at the nature center. Among them is the Bald Cypress, a swamp loving, coniferous tree. You can find these trees around the pond at our nature center.
Unlike most trees at the nature center, something strange happens to the Bald Cypress. Their tree roots come out of the ground vertically. These roots are called cypress knees. Cypress knees are common among species located in a swamp.
Although reasoning behind this strange phenomenon is not well understood, some speculate that these exposed roots are utilized for accumulating oxygen, collecting nutrients, and housing vital carbohydrates. People commonly buy these cypress knees for decoration or use them in art.
As most of you have probably seen, we are still working with volunteers in a program called, “Working Together, Separately”. This allows volunteers to work with us and have fun working on projects in a safe way. You can volunteer individually, or as a family. Just wanted to show some of the volunteers who have helped us out during these times and the projects we have going on as well. During the month of June, we had 15 volunteers and 240 hours for conservation crew!
Planting in the prairie and woodland is always a big part of our restoration projects during the summer. This family helped plant around 75 plants! They planted some Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) in the woodland and a variety of other natives in the prairie. A total of 400 plants have been planted in the prairie and woodland!
Another project that we have been working on is building critter castles. Critter castles are all around the site throughout the woodland area. These structures are for animals to hide in and for shelter. The logs and brush used are from woodland clean up. Here, one of our conservation interns, Ryan, is adding to the base of the castle
A finished critter castle!
Something else that we have been working on is the stage at the outdoor classroom. It has been on our list for a while now, and it’s finally completed! One of our new volunteers, Marta, enjoyed prepping and staining the stage. It looks great!
These are just a few projects that we have been working on. We have also done a bunch of weeding, mulching, and invasive removal as well. We just wanted to say a huge thank you to those that have been helping us out during these times! Our fantastic Conservation Crew members have been coming in to help us keep up with our many restoration projects, as well as people working from home on projects. We have been keeping busy with our crew on numerous projects and keeping up with them, and we are so happy we are able to create a program like this!
*Interested in helping out? Let us know! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
As people are purchasing plants, planning out their garden beds, and planting, many want to know what kind of plants attract certain pollinators. Here at the nature center, we plant a large diversity of native plants to attract wildlife. A great variety of colors, shapes, and smells!
Today, I wanted to show you some of our favorite garden must-haves and the pollinators that they attract! Our prairies, wetland, woodland, and garden beds around the site are loaded with beautiful plants and right about now, more and more pollinators can be seen buzzing about. The first one pictured is, Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya) and Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).
Speaking of being great for butterflies, Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a great choice! As the name implies, it attracts an abundance of them—especially Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus).
Not only are butterflies’ fantastic pollinators, but bees are also! One of the plants that attracts a lot of bees is Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum). This is a great plant that smells amazing, which is a main reason that bees are attracted to it!
Not only are bees and butterflies’ great insect pollinators, but beetles are as well. One plant that attracts beetles, such as the Green June Beetle (Cotinis nitida), is Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium). This plant attracts the greatest diversity of pollinators! Beetles, bees, butterflies, flies, wasps, birds, and even mammals! It is a great addition to any garden.
When most people think of pollinators, they think of insects. However, birds and hummingbirds are great pollinators as well! A large number of native plants that attract insects, also attract birds. One of them is Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). This flower attracts numerous birds, including the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis).
Hummingbirds are also fantastic pollinators! There are a couple of native flowers that hummingbirds absolutely love. One of them is Royal Catchfly (Silene regia). There is a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) getting nectar from this one.
The other one is Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). There is a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) getting nectar from this one.
Pollinators are crucial to the environment and there are many native options to provide the most for our pollinator friends! No matter what you want to attract, there is a plant for it. Check out some of these native must-haves and happy gardening!
Shonn Hild joined us for our last Q & A with a naturalist to answer any questions about landscaping. All questions that were sent in advance were answered during the 30 minute webinar as well as questions asked live during the session. Check it out!
Every spring, many children in their classrooms watch and observe caterpillars change and grow into butterflies! Even as an adult, I still am in awe of metamorphosis of the butterfly. I've studied the process, got really nerdy and scientific, but it still just left me with a lot more questions. So, I decided to record and share an at home project with all of you! Raising Painted Lady Caterpillars! I hope all of you will join in as I update you on the daily progress of our caterpillars. Both of my sons will participants in this project, sharing their ideas from a teenage perspective and a five year old perspective - this should be interesting! Pus, I hope all of you will share your comments and observations as the project continues!
We purchased our live caterpillars from Insect Lore. Ms. Jenn has a funny story about Insect Lore's founder, Carlos White. To check out the story, click here!
Some of you may or may not know, but I instruct a monthly adult craft program at Douglas-Hart called Nature in the Arts. Watch the video to learn more about the program, and then follow my tutorial on making a scrap fabric wreath! Here are the materials you'll need to complete this project: scrap fabric, a cutting utensil, and wire wreath frame. That's all! It's a simple craft that you can do in the comfort of your own home while watching TV, listening to podcasts or audiobooks, or spending time with your family. You can pass the wreath around, and let everyone in the family help! I hope the tutorial was easy enough to follow, but if you have any questions, please contact me at anytime. Good luck!
Thank you for watching,
Douglas-Hart Nature Center
PS - I am doing a giveaway! Check out below on how to enter the scrap fabric wreath giveaway!
The east edge of the Douglas-Hart Nature Center woodland got a makeover. With over 3000 vehicles driving by each day and overgrown invasive plants, conservation staff felt it was a time to address the area. Normally it is not preferable to cut down habitat, but we knew that the unsightly mess would continue to become more troublesome for those that maintain our roadsides as well as the native species that we continue to promote throughout the woodland.
All the while we were cutting down scrub, we had always intended to improve the area with something better. The east edge border parallels about a 0.5 mile of trail. With the proximity of the trail with the road, we wanted to preserve a barrier that would not only provide a visual barricade, but also one that would reduce road noise so that patrons could more fully enjoy the trail experience. Since we wanted these barriers at all times of the year, evergreen trees were the natural option.
A good practice to follow is that if you are planting species in a row, which we were on the east edge, it is good to plant more than one species in case some sort of detrimental disease would affect the trees. Along the east edge there are White Pines (Pinus strobus) that were planted a couple of years ago. To finish off the area we selected Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). While all evergreens provide desirable characteristics, red cedar has numerous wildlife benefits. Red Cedar is a significant source of shelter for wildlife.
The blue fruits on a female tree are eaten by a variety of wildlife including the Cedar Waxwing songbird. Red cedar also happens to be salt tolerant which makes it the perfect option given the proximity to the roadway. Red cedar is also one of the most drought tolerant evergreen species. Cedars in general can tolerate a wide variety of soils. The trees are also capable of providing a substantial windbreak, so much in fact that it was planted as a windbreak to offset the dustbowl conditions of the 1930’s. Luckily, the trees are now located in a spot where they will hopefully never have to prove their wind breaking abilities.
Happy National Take a Walk Day! Why not celebrate it by coming out and enjoying the trails? It is also spring and a variety of wildlife is starting to emerge. Spring is a time where plants and animals are growing and bursting with life! Flowers are blooming, insects are buzzing about, birds are singing, and mammals are waking up from their winter sleep. All kinds of wildflowers are beginning to bloom and many animals can be found out and about. Here is a “Spring Snapshot” of Douglas-Hart Nature Center.
Animals are starting to become active again, such as mammals, birds, and insects. A common mammal to see are squirrels. Squirrels can be found year round, but are most active in spring and fall. Eastern Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger) can be seen running up trees, eating nuts, berries and seeds, and playing around. They can be commonly found in the Bird Garden eating the bird seed.
Not only are mammals being more active, but some of our insect friends have been making appearances. A couple that were spotted include a House Cricket (Acheta domesticus) and two Black Scavenger Flies (Parapalaeosepsis plebeia). In the spring, crickets will again become active in large numbers when the eggs begin hatching and they move out in search of food. Black Scavenger Flies aren’t normally found on blooming flowers, but rather on decaying plant and animal matter. It was neat to see both of these insects on a vibrant Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus). Daffodils are a fall-planted bulb and are one of the first blooms in the spring.
Another insect that was seen out and about was a Shore Fly (Hydrellia sp.). Shore flies are tiny flies that can be found near seashores or at smaller inland waters, such as ponds. This one was found close to the pond along the east edge on a Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). Bloodroot is a perennial that when cut, the root and budding root stalk (called the rhizome) secrete a red fluid that gives the plant its name.
There was another wildflower that was starting to bloom also. This would be Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). These bloom early in the spring and are an ephemeral plant that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Along with the wildflowers, there is also a shrub that is bursting with color right now. This shrub is Spicebush (Lindera benzoin). It is a 6-12 ft. tall shrub that provides food and cover for an abundance of wildlife and is the host plant of the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio troilus).
Lastly, there is a tree that is beginning to bloom. This tree is Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra). This is an understory tree that has showy yellow-green flowers in early spring, emerging just before or with the leaves.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out and walk the trails on this beautiful day, and see what you can find!
We are excited to launch our new Nature Niches Blog! Staff at the Douglas-Hart Nature Center wanted to provide a resource outlet to all of you on a variety of topics from flora, fauna, gardening, conservation, family activities, and more. We hope to share how-to videos or step by step guides or basic information about topics that interest you. Be sure to submit a topic idea via the blog website: www.dhnature.org/blog, email: email@example.com, message us on Facebook: @dhnature.org or comment in the blog below. Be on the lookout for our next blog featuring: Dragonflies.