Tag Archives: Plants

Monarch Watch Spring 2012 Open House and Plant Sale

Chip Taylor's Doppelganger greets visitors at the 2012 Monarch Watch Spring Open House and Plant Sale. Dr. Taylor is the director and founder of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas.

Chip Taylor’s Doppelganger greets visitors at the 2012 Monarch Watch Spring Open House and Plant Sale. Dr. Taylor is the director and founder of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas.

Hundreds of people visited the open house and plant sale at Monarch Watch on Saturday, May 12, at the University of Kansas. About 4,000 plants were for sale for butterfly gardening, including plants to nurture both caterpillars and adults. Many of the plants are native to northeast Kansas.  Monarch Watch, founded by internationally renowned entomologist Dr. Orley “Chip” Taylor, is dedicated to the education about, conservation of and research about Monarch butterflies. It works closely with schools and with researchers. I’ve posted several articles and photographs on this blog about Monarch Watch.  Here’s my post about the 2009 Monarch Watch Spring Open House.

Here’s an article about about a previous Fall open house.  Be sure to check the Monarch Watch site for the dates of the fall open house and the butterfly tagging event, both in September. You can find more of my articles by doing a search for “Monarch Watch” or “butterflies” in my search box.  Here’s the official Monarch Watch site.

Chip Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch, talks with visitors at the 2012 Monarch Watch Spring Open House and Plant Sale at the University of Kansas. Here, a KU faculty member on his way to commencement activities stops to buy some tropical milkweed plants.

Chip Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch, meets with visitors at the 2012 Monarch Watch Spring Open House and Plant Sale at the University of Kansas. Here, a KU faculty member on his way to commencement activities stops to buy some tropical milkweed plants.


Many of the butterfly plants for sale at the Monarch Watch open house are native to northeast Kansas.

Many of the butterfly plants for sale at the Monarch Watch open house are native to northeast Kansas.


Here are some photos of the Monarch Watch garden on the campus of the University of Kansas. The garden is a way station to provide milkweeds, nectar sources and shelter needed to sustain to Monarch butterflies as the migrate through North America. People are encouraged to create their own Monarch way stations and pollination gardens. Monarch Watch sells plants for butterfly gardens at its annual Spring open house.

Here are some photos of the Monarch Watch garden on the campus of the University of Kansas. The garden is a way station to provide milkweeds, nectar sources and shelter needed to sustain to Monarch butterflies as the migrate through North America. People are encouraged to create their own Monarch way stations and pollination gardens. Monarch Watch sells plants for butterfly gardens at its annual Spring open house.


A child poses for a photograph in a Monarch Butterfly at the 2012 Monarch Watch Spring Annual Open House and Plant Sale. Lots of activities were available for children to enjoy.

A child poses for a photograph in a Monarch Butterfly at the 2012 Monarch Watch Spring Annual Open House and Plant Sale. Lots of activities were available for children to enjoy.


Children select their Monarch caterpillars, which they will take home with a milkweed they have purchased from the plant sale.

Children select their Monarch caterpillars, which they will take home with a milkweed they have purchased from the plant sale.


People wait in line to buy their plants at the 2012 Monarch Watch annual Spring open house and plant sale.

People wait in line to buy their plants at the 2012 Monarch Watch annual Spring open house and plant sale.


A boy proudly shows off his Monarch caterpillar, which he will take home with a milkweed plant to sustain it.

A boy proudly shows off his Monarch caterpillar, which he will take home with a milkweed plant to sustain it.


Awaiting its new home in my garden, a Monarch butterfly caterpillar hangs out on a tropical milkweed plant I bought at the Monarch Watch plant sale. When you buy a large tropical milkweed, you got a caterpillar, too. I've always had good luck attracting Monarch butterflies to tropical milkweed plants in my garden, although the plants don't survive the winter.

Awaiting its new home in my garden, a Monarch butterfly caterpillar hangs out on a tropical milkweed plant I bought at the Monarch Watch plant sale. When you buy a large tropical milkweed, you got a caterpillar, too. I’ve always had good luck attracting Monarch butterflies to tropical milkweed plants in my garden, although the plants don’t survive the winter.

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The Prairie Center

 

Botantist and Environmentalist Frank Norman displays a sumac shrub on a recent nature walk at The Prairie Center in Olathe, Kansas. Smooth Sumac is a native shrub that is widespread across the country.

 

October is a favorite time of year in the Midwest.  It’s not too hot, there’s a crisp feel to the air, and a tangy fragrance wafts in the wind.   This smoke-tinged perfume could be just the dying breath of trees as they shed their leaves and hunker down for winter, but it brings back sweet memories of apple harvests, and trick-or-treating and shuffling in the leaves on the walk home from elementary school.  (On the way to school, I trudged rather than shuffled through the leaves.)

I’ve lived in the Kansas City area for most of my life, but I’m still discovering its treasures.  One is the Prairie Center in Olathe, Kansas. On Oct. 10, some friends, family members and I joined two dozen others on a stroll through part of the center’s 300 acres.  Frank Norman of Norman Ecological Consulting led the walk, which focused on native medicinal prairie plants.  Sue Holcomb of Grasslands Heritage Foundation also pointed out many of the native plants in the prairie preserve, which includes 45 acres of virgin prairie. Virgin prairie means that the land was never plowed, which is very rare to find.  Only five percent of the original tallgrass prairie remains today in the United States.

 

 

The Downy Gentian (Gentiana puberulenta) is a beautiful, rare find. It's small, but because of its brilliant blue color, it's easy to spot if you're lucky enough to find some.

 

 

The partridge pea (Cassia chamecrista) is a bright spot among the browning fall grasses at the Olathe Prairie Center.

 

 

In Autumn, sunflowers tower above the asters and other plants at the Prairie Center in Olathe.

 

 

Milkweed pods and willow-leaf purple aster at the Prairie Center in Olathe.

 

Here’s a post I wrote in the summer of 2008 about the Kansas City Symphony’s performance in the Flint Hills: Kansas City Symphony in the Flint Hills.

To learn more, click on these links.

Olathe Prairie Center

Grassland Heritage Foundation.

Dennis Toll has stopped blogging here, but the blog still contains a lot of information about the prairie, as well as useful links.

Flint Hills, Tall Grass

Sumac.

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Filed under Biology, Conservation, Education, Environment, History, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Photography, Science

Second Annual Strawberry Photograph

This is one of my favorite times of year.  Every day I find these jewels in my garden.  These were so fresh that they steamed up the glass.  The fragrance was so better than any perfume. Best of all, I got to eat them!

This is one of my favorite times of year. Every day I find these jewels in my garden. These were so fresh that they steamed up the glass. The fragrance was so much better than any perfume. Best of all, I got to eat them!

 

My strawberry patch has grown even larger this year.  Hurrah!  Here’s my post with photographs from last year, in case you missed it.   Strawberry Fields.

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Filed under Gardening, Humor, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Photography

I’m a Tasmaniac

Sheep graze near the ocean in Tasmania.  You can see the mountains in the distance.

Sheep graze near the ocean in northcentral Tasmania. You can see one of Tasmania’s many mountain ranges in the distance.

I’m envious.  Janelle of “What Makes Me Laugh” won a trip to Australia for herself and her husband by writing an essay about Jurlique products, based in Adelaide.   Her niece told her: Get your butt to Australia before my college year abroad ends (or something like that…)  So with only a few months to spare, Janelle figured out a free way to get to Australia by the deadline.

St. Columba Falls tumbles 295 feet into a dense rainforest of tree ferns, myrtle and sassafras, not far from apple orchards and meadows where dairy cattle graze.

St. Columba Falls tumbles 295 feet into a dense rainforest of tree ferns, myrtle and sassafras, not far from apple orchards and meadows where dairy cattle graze.

I’ve wanted to go to Australia for thirty years, but I just made my first trip there in January — and it wasn’t free.  I tried the contest method  (the 25th caller will win a chance to be in the drawing), but can you believe it, no one drew my name!  Janelle really did it the smart way, literally. (The link to how she did it is at the bottom.)

One week of her trip will be spent driving around Tasmania, which is one of Australia’s states.  I’m avidly reading her posts as she travels.  I’ve become a Tasmaniac.  I never even thought to go there until my friend Anita suggested we include Tasmania on our itinerary.  Now I’m enthralled with this island at the bottom of mainland Australia. (Tasmania is an archipelago of one main island the size of West Virginia and almost 300 much smaller ones.) The following is going to sound like an advertisement for Tasmania, and I’m not even getting paid.  What kind of fool am I!

Lavender fields.

Lavender fields.

Tasmania is a wild and beautiful place, a combination of pastoral scenes and unspoiled wilderness. It boasts four mild seasons, 1,000 mountain peaks and about the cleanest air in the world.  There are wild rivers and a wide range of forests from pine to eucalyptus to tree ferns and myrtle.  It has 2,000 species of native Australian plants, 200 of which are found only in Tasmania.  Forty percent of Tasmania is a park or nature reserve, but Tasmania is also a top world producer of lavender oil and medicinal opium poppies.  Vineyards and wineries thrive there.  Sheep and cattle graze in picturesque meadows.

The British established Port Arthur as a penal colony in.  Beaue of its remote location on a penisula on Tasmania, it was thought that prisoners wouldn't be able to escape.  A few succeeded, but didn't last long in the bush.

The British established Port Arthur as a penal colony in the mid-1800s. Because of its remote location on a penisula on Tasmania, it was thought that prisoners wouldn’t be able to escape. A few succeeded, but didn’t last long in the bush.

There are scores of fascinating animals, such as Tasmanian Devils, poisonous tiger snakes, duckbill platypus and fairy penguins. You can see many of these animals in nature parks.  You might find a wallaby lounging in a rutabaga (or swede) field.  Tasmania’s unique plants included some of the world’s oldest and tallest trees.  Flowers flourish in the mild climate.

Thousands of boats are anchored along its rugged, gorgeous coastline.   Australia’s oldest bridge still in use is in Richmond, Tasmania.   In one northeastern area, you can tour a Chinese tin mining museum, buy locally made cheese made from the cattle pasturing in a nearby field and visit the 295-foot-tall St. Columba Falls, which tumbles into a dense rain forest of tree ferns, myrtle, blackwood and sassafras.   Charles Darwin noted many interesting plants and animals when he visited Tasmania in 1836 while on his voyage on the Beagle  — nothing like he’d seen anywhere else.

The swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn was born in Hobart, Tasmania, the charming capital city situated on a beautiful harbor.    A modern Tasmanian is Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark.

Beautiful, lush parks like this one in Hobart are common in Tasmania.

Beautiful, lush parks like this one in Hobart are common in Tasmania.

One of Australia’s the first penal colonies was established at Port Arthur in Tasmania.  It’s now one of Tasmania’s top tourist destinations.   It’s a park-like area now, with tours, gardens, restored buildings, a museum with cafe (of course!) and a cruise on the harbor, where we saw a fur seal fanning its flippers.  I could go on and on (as I usually do….) but I’ll spare you…..this time.  You can check out the links and watch this space for more Taz Mania, including our encounter with the highly venomous tiger snake while on a bushwalk.  Crikey!

Discover Tasmania.

More about Tasmania.

Here’s a plug for my two posts on Tasmanian Devils.  I’m a Friend of the Tasmanian Devil and More Deviltry.   I’m re-reading a book I first read twenty years ago called, “The Fatal Shore, The epic of Australia’s founding” by Robert Hughes.  It includes a lot of history about Tasmania, including a tale of some convicts who escaped from the prison at Port Arthur and their grisly end.

You can get a great view of Hobart from the top of Mt. Wellington, but it's cold and windy even inthe middle of summer. Fortunately, there's a visitor's center.  Hobart was just a small town when Charles Darwin climbed to this site in 1836.

The view of Hobart is great from the top of Mt. Wellington, but it’s cold and windy even in the middle of summer. Fortunately, there’s a visitor’s center. Hobart was just a small town when Charles Darwin climbed to this site in 1836. These days, you can drive to the top.

Lavender Field.

This is one of the fields of Lavender House farm near Rowella, Tasmania. Lavender House grows 70 types of lavenders in a rural setting surrounded by vineyards.

Tasmania produces about 40 percent of the world's medicinal opium poppies, under strict regulation.

Tasmania produces about 40 percent of the world’s medicinal opium poppies, under strict regulation. This is a field of poppy pods nearly ready for harvest.

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Filed under Australia, Bird-watching, Conservation, Environment, Humor, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Travel

Snow

Paper birch in my front yard.

Snow fell in big, soft flakes this past week, swirling around this river birch tree (Betula nigra) in my front yard. I love the way the bark cracks and peels. So many textures, and the snowflakes add another dimension.

Red Cedar in my back yard.

This red juniper (Juniperus virginiana) is flourishing in my backyard. According to one of my botany professors (long ago), the red juniper (also known as red cedar) is the only evergreen conifer native to Kansas, where I live. Another evergreen fact: Kansas is the only state in the continental United States, plus Alaska, that has no native pine trees, according to my professor. I thought Hawaii also had native pine trees, but thanks to Ed Darrell, I discovered that pines were introduced to Hawaii, as were so many other species. I don't know whether pines will propagate themselves in Hawaii. They don't seem to in Kansas.

 

a cardinal grabs a snack in the snow at the bird feeder outside my kitchen window.

A cardinal grabs a snack in the snow at the bird feeder outside my kitchen window.

 

I didn't venture far to get this photo of snow on a holly bush in my backyard.

Holly berries! After three years of no berries, I thought the original owner of my house had planted only males. What's the point of that? But there were three holly princesses, after all. A holly prince was tucked in a corner (Who needs to see him? He doesn't have berries!) to pollinate this holly harem. I don't know why the romance took so long to blossom.

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Filed under Animals, Biology, Bird-watching, Birds, Environment, Gardening, Kansas, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Photography, Science

Let Us Be Truly Thankful

A bounty of currants hangs from a vine along the Virgin River in Zion National Park, Utah.

A bounty of currant grapes hangs from a vine along the Virgin River in Zion National Park, Utah.

“This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and friends!

To see my post on “Awesome Utah,” click here.

The Great White Throne towers over Zion National Park, Utah.

The Great White Throne towers over Zion National Park, Utah.

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Filed under Biology, Family, Food, Friendship, Life, National Parks, Nature, Personal, Photography, Random

Pesto

A bee works on a basil blossom.

A bee works on a basil blossom.

A hard freeze is forecast for tonight so I’ve been washing off my outdoor potted plants and rolling them indoors in my decrepit little red wagon.  I’ll worry later about finding them sunshine in the walkout basement. 

I just cut the last of the basil to make pesto.  Basil is the first to die when the temperature hits freezing, so I couldn’t dawdle any longer.  Making pesto is a pain in the posterior, but I’ll be sorry if a freeze kills my basil.   The bees love the basil flowers, so I hope they can find hardier flowers tomorrow. Eventually, they’ll tuck themselves in for the winter.  Where, I wonder?

My pesto recipe is to throw all of washed leaves (picking off the leaves is tedious) into a cuisinart with some olive oil and pine nuts and then whirl until it’s finely chopped into a paste.  Form into balls on a plate and freeze. (My fingernails turn green….)  Remove the frozen balls from the plate (sometimes I have to hack them off) and put into a bag to store in your freezer.  You can toss onto hot pasta or into a marinara sauce later when you want a taste of summer time.  You can add garlic and Parmesan cheese, if you want. Salt to taste.

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Filed under Biology, Environment, Food, Gardening, Homemaking, Humor, Insects, Kansas, Life, Nature, Personal, Random, Recipes