Showing posts from December, 2013

Maps of Threatened Birds, Plants, Fish, and Mammals from Knoema

Knoema is one of the many companies making a business of Big Data.

You must look at their maps!

Map of threatened bird species

Map of fish species threatened

Map of threatened mammals, excluding whales and porpoises

Map of threatened vascular plants

Here's a link to their environmental topics - so much to explore at Knoema!

And, here's the Knoema blog to check out

Hours of Sunlight - Europe and the US

How Stuff Works has a more detailed one for just the US

Hoar Frost this week

Our yard was covered with Hoar Frost, frozen dew, or white frost, this week and the photo opportunity was irresistible.

It is basically explained as moist air and fog in our case, hitting freezing temperatures.

If you want an interesting video explanation, the Weather Channel has one at

One helpful weather person defined other types of frost for us.

Rime frost looks like icing around the edges of petals and leaves and only occurs when the temperatures are very low.

Fern frost is what we see on windows in really cold weather - I saw this a lot as a child growing up in Ohio.

Homelandscapes author Cathy Bell writes about winter life at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, 2013-2014. 

Here's one paragraph from her post about Hoar Frost (click on the link to read the rest).
"Surface hoar is a kind of frost that forms when humid air comes into contact with very cold snow on the …

Gardening for the Birds

Birds bring many benefits to the garden and the gardener including the pleasures of hearing their songs, enjoying their colors and watching nest-making activities. When the landscape includes plants that give the birds food, shelter and nesting sites, more types of birds will visit and take up residence.

The backbone of a bird-friendly yard is native plants, especially the ones that produce flowers in the summer and berries for winter food. Sustainable garden practices are also essential, so learning to establish a chemical-free ecosystem is part of the process.
It helps to think like a bird. As you look around your landscape make sure there is food, water and shrubbery for hiding from predators. In addition a small pond will attract birds, frogs, toads, butterflies and dragonflies.
Many birds are attracted to specific plants. For example, Cedar waxwings look for the berries of eastern red cedar. But in general many trees are great for birds including fir, alder, holly, juniper, mulberry…

Flying Reindeer and Elves

The U.S. Forest Service website explains how we got flying reindeer and elves - it's is thanks to a special mushroom that grows under evergreen trees in Europe and Asia.

"In the “old world”, the psychoactive fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) has been closely associated with northern European and Asiatic shamans and their rituals. Researchers have documented its use or presumed use by numerous cultures throughout Europe and Asia. In Siberia, its use predates the crossing of the Bering Straits into North America."

The fly agaric is a favorite food of reindeer - you'll recognize it!
Drink that reindeer urine for a special holiday treat!~

When fly agaric mushroom fell out of popularity, it was replaced by the liberty cap mushroom.
"During the Pleistocene, the use of fly agar…

A Worm Hotel for your Red Wigglers

Worm composting is an easy way for home gardeners to transform food scraps into an organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.

There are several ways to set up a small system using a single or several inexpensive plastic bins. The single bin project can be a family activity done with children. More complex projects require more tools and supervision.

Since red worms (red wrigglers) live in the top 6-inches of soil, a shallow container like a kitty litter box makes a good starter setup. The lid is essential and has to either fit loosely or have holes in it so air will circulate. A simple bin for under a tree outdoors could be made of a trash can with holes drilled in top, bottom and sides.

The worm hotel built by Jon Stoodley is made of several plastic tubs with holes cut out of the centers.

“I prefer the stacked-bins because as we add more food and paper at the top, the castings fall to the bottom, keeping the worm activity and the castings separated,” said Stoodley. “With this method, the…

December in the Shed - what's growing

We heat the shed a bit and run lights to keep things going all winter. Here are snaps from this week. Double-click to view larger size.

Europe's Rivers being Cleaned Up!

Wikimedia Commons The Danube River as it flows through Kelheim, Germany. In Europe, there is plenty of good news about the clean-up of rivers and restoring them to their natural state by removing dams and levees, and restoring floodplains. Hooray for wildlife!
Yale 360 has the entire story at this link. Here are some highlights "From the industrial cities of Britain to the forests of Sweden, from the plains of Spain to the shores of the Black Sea, Europe is restoring its rivers to their natural glory. The most densely populated continent on earth is finding space for nature to return along its river banks. 
The restoration is not perfect. River floodplains cannot be fully restored when they contain cities, and hydroelectric dams are still needed. But Europe’s fluvial highways are becoming the test bed for conservation biologist Edward O. Wilson’s dream that the 21st century should be "the era of restoration in ecology." ABOUT THE AUTHORFred Pearce, Yale Environment …

Feverfew is Wild Quinine

Feverfew, or Wild Quinine, is as carefree as other members of the Aster-Daisy family, making it a sweet addition to a sunny, herb or cottage flower garden. Also called American feverfew, it is a native perennial found in prairies, and rocky woods. The name Feverfew comes from the Latin febrifugus which means putting fever to flight.

Tanacetum parthenium, Feverfew, was originally found in southern Europe. The.different varieties vary from 1 to 3 feet tall with flowers from late spring through late summer.
Because of the coarse texture and scented leaves, wildlife such as rabbits and deer rarely eat the plants. They are also free of significant disease and insect problems. Many gardeners have planted feverfew to shelter toads that in turn eat garden pests such as snails and slugs.
When shopping for plants and seeds, carefully watch the names because they are easily confused by nurseries. This plant’s names include Parthenium integrifolium, Matricaria parthenium, Chrysanthemum parthenium…

Metaphalangium albounilineatum is Daddy longlegs, Daddy-Long-Legs, Harvest-Spiders, Shepherd Spiders and Grandfather Graybeards

Every winter we have a few fun creatures living in the garden shed along with our plants. There are always Daddy Long Legs. Last week I was out there transplanting seedlings and it crawled up onto the shelf where I was working, wandered around the plants and then discovered me. Yikes! Quick turnaround and back down into the pots on the floor.

These gentle creatures have no venom or poison with which to stun their prey (or us). They are not spiders (arachnid). And, they do not spin webs. They are Opilliones (or Opiliones) which means aphid sucker meaning they are perfect guests in a garden shed where aphids abound. Here's a National Geographic video of a Daddy Long Legs ingesting an aphid and winning a fight with a large beetle. Their food consists of aphids, beetles, caterpillars, ants, earthworms, flies, mites, small slugs, snails and spiders according to Galveston County Master Gardeners. "The name Harvestmen comes from their being seen in late summer and fall at harvest tim…

Flowering Maple is Abutilon

Abutilon is an exotic hibiscus relative that is container grown as a houseplant. Plant Delights has a wonderful and tempting variety of  seven selections that I'd love to grow.

Their flowers resemble Mallow because they are related. Abutilon Canary Bird has buttery yellow flowers. Fool's Gold looks like it has a weird orangey flower color. Orange Hot Lava is much prettier to me, more like rainbow sherbet. Abutilon megapotamicum flowers are a rosy-pink with a cream colored skirt. Abutilon megapotamicum 'Ines' has predominantly cream flowers with a pink cap. Pink Charm is two-tone pink and Voodoo has deep red flowers. Tony Avent's catalog at Plant Delights says they are hardy from zones 7b to 10b and we are in zone 7a. The one in the photo was in Anne Pinc's Tulsa garden and it was a spectacular specimen but I suspect she could grow anything. I recently ordered seeds from Outside Pride and can recommend their seeds as germinating like crazy. Also, when I called t…

Carols and Crumpets Tulsa Garden Center Dec 7 2013 from 8 to 3

The Tulsa Herb Society’s annual Carols and Crumpets on Saturday is an event that hundreds of holiday shoppers eagerly anticipate every year. The club makes a variety of home and garden crafts and has invited lots of vendors to bring their hand-crafted items to the holiday sale. 
The fun atmosphere they create is guaranteed to stir up your holiday spirit. 
Carols and Crumpets 2435 Peoria AV free admission and free parking Snowflake Café 11-2
Information: patsywynn@cox.netand 918-289-6217
Co-chair of Carols and Crumpets, Patsy Wynn, said that her love for the event and appreciation for all the vendors keeps her working hard on it year after year.
“We’re such a close group,” said Wynn. “I’ve been a member 19 years. When I found Tulsa Herb Society, I was looking for a group that did things with nature, greenery, and herbs. Since the first time I came, I fell in love with the Garden Center mansion and have made lots of new friends.” 
Twenty-eight vendors from four states will …

Plant Trials - 2013 winners for your garden

University and public gardens around the U.S. participate in plant trials, growing new varieties and testing their strengths and qualities in the local weather and soil.

The winners are the plants to look for in catalogs and garden centers in the spring - they have been through it all and come out on top.

The results lists are terrific resources for bringing new plants into an existing garden or building an entire garden from scratch.

The national database, Plant Trials lists many participating gardens, but all trial gardens and results are not there, only the ones that agree to share their information..

Oklahoma State University has trial gardens but their data is not on the national site. Their crop trials page is at

OSU's ornamental field trial winners were reported by Greenhouse Growers
The 2013 top performers were
Angelonia ‘Serenita Raspberry’, Celosia ‘Fresh Look Orange’, Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’, Echinacea ‘C…