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Carrot Cake

CLM Internship Blog - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 1:36pm

Well hiya Stranger!

My mentor just sent me home with a carrot cake for my birthday.  Isn’t that awesome?  My mom makes me carrot cakes for my birthday back home in Georgia.  I’m so thankful for my mentor and other coworkers/friends for making Idaho feel like home.  “Idahome” to quote Avery’s last blog post.  In fact, I’m writing this post in a bit of a hurry so I can get a ticket to see our coworker, Peter, in a local musical. Avery, Taters and I will be departing for Yellowstone in the morning.

Tough life right?  I promise, I’ve been learning a tremendous amount of information recently, and doing good work.  Yesterday, we went out with the fire ecologist to see fire rehab projects at different stages of succession.  Talking with her about the fire mitigation and rehabilitation projects she is working on was extremely fascinating.  To continue the Idahome theme, it was heart warming to hear her perspective and well wishes for us young conservation scientists.

The four work days before that were spent training and working with local experts to identify and interpret wetland/riparian features, and to assess their current and potential functioning condition.  It was very rewarding to feel like an active part of their team, and to discuss management options to best conserve these sensitive areas.

The above only captures a fraction of the incredible experience that I am having during this internship.  To summarize, I’m feeling very inspired and grateful.  Thank you for reading.

Jonathan Kleinman

Jarbidge Field Office

Bureau of Land Management

Where’s the water?

CLM Internship Blog - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 1:35pm

With the plant field season coming to an end, it has been time to change gears.  I’ve been tasked with the impossible: Find water in the desert.  The hydrologist at the field office has a set of GPS points of possible water sources.  He used aerial imagery to search for areas of green vegetation, hoping that plants are growing there because water is present.  My new job is to go to these locations and ground truth them.  Although my success rate for finding water is pretty low, the job is actually quite fun and interesting.  Even though there isn’t much water to be found, I have gotten the chance to explore remote areas of the field office and I’ve seen a lot of cool things along the way.  In one week I saw wild horses, wild burros, a coyote, sage grouse, burrowing owls, and countless antelope.  I’ve also gotten the chance to summit a lot of the peaks in the field office and enjoy the views they offer.  One of the best was Hot Springs Peak, part of the Skedaddle Mountains.  It did not have any springs, let alone hot ones, but the view was still great.

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View of the field office from the top of Hot Springs Peak

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Wild burros near Lone Willow Spring

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Coyote

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Wild Horses grazing

I just found out this week that I am getting an extension added on to the end of my internship.  I will be staying in Susanville through January.  I am really excited to explore more of the field office, and to work on more interesting projects like this one.

-Sam

BLM Eagle Lake Field Office

Susanville, CA

Farewell Shoshone!

CLM Internship Blog - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:07am

Today is my last day in the Shoshone, ID field office. It is sad to say good bye to such a small town filled with wonderful people who treated me like family. Walking home from work the other day, a man in his garden offered me fresh carrots, peppers, and cucumbers and our lovely neighbors gave us beautiful ceramic bowls that their parents made. In only five months I feel like we have become part of this small community and I am grateful to have met everyone. One thing I will miss in an odd way is, the Union Pacific Railroad, which ran right through the center of town about 30 times a day. Though highly annoying when trying to make a phone call or at 3 in the morning when you’re sleeping, the railroad is why Shoshone was established and is fascinating to watch speeding by.
Railroad tracks through town

I will also miss our neighbors; Justine, Shelby, their dogs Bessie and Shimmer, and the cutest kitten in the world, Tater. Always down to BBQ or just hang out and drink a beer they made Shoshone feel like home. And just so everyone knows, Shelby’s softball team won the league championship…Booyeah!!

Tater

Shoshone has been such a pleasant surprise; full of vast landscapes, great people, and a productive field office filled with professionals who truly know how to manage the land out here. There was never a dull moment this summer and I could not have asked for a better internship. Ranging from vegetation monitoring to bat surveys to collecting native seed I have learned much more than I hoped for. I have become more familiar with GIS, identifying riparian vegetation and a better over all understanding of what it is like to work for a federal agency. I hope everyone is taking advantage of their internship, learning as much as possible, and leaving a positive impact where ever you go.

Here are a few of my favorite images from the Shoshone field office, enjoy!

Very clever

Very clever

Helianthus annus

Happy sheep dog

Happy sheep dog

Rainbow over Shoshone

Rainbow over Shoshone

Avery with our rescue lambs.

Avery with our rescue lambs.

Megan descending into Pot of Gold

Megan descending into Pot of Gold

Flat Top allotment

Flat Top allotment

Pot of Gold Cave

Pot of Gold Cave

Aragonite inside Pot of Gold Cave

Aragonite inside Pot of Gold Cave

Idahome

CLM Internship Blog - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:03am

Our time in Shoshone has come to a close, although luckily for both Alexi and I, our time in Idaho isn’t quite finished yet. After this week Alexi will be headed west to Boise and I will be heading north to Ketchum for a little bit. I think it’s safe to say that over the last five months we have both fallen in love with this unique and hidden gem of a state. Getting to know the species of the sagebrush steppe and all the idiosyncrasies of the the high desert has been a lot of fun. Working for the BLM Shoshone Field Office has been a great learning experience. Not only did we get to do a lot of botany-intensive projects such as nested frequency and seed collecting, but we also got to learn more about different methods of surveying bats and got to do a bit of GIS. I really appreciated our mentor’s effort to ensure we had a varied and interesting internship. I always felt like I was doing something that was useful to the office and that was important to conservation, which is essential in a field job like this.

My first impressions of Idaho have drastically changed over the last few months. When I first heard I was moving to Shoshone, I immediately looked it up on Google Earth and did a street view tour of the place (not a good idea!). The town of Shoshone isn’t exactly the most exciting town there ever was, but it is close to the beautiful mountains up north and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to live here. I will not miss the trains that come through town blaring their horns at ungodly hours of the night, the (still) mysterious siren that goes off every night at 10pm, or the crazy cat man neighbor yelling at his yowling cats at night. But I will miss our neighbors who made us feel welcome and the wonderful people in our BLM office. I would definitely recommend working in the Shoshone BLM Office to future CLM interns- especially if you enjoy hiking rocky peaks, fishing and swimming in alpine lakes, finding hidden hot springs, exploring lava caves and seeing incredible amounts of wildlife. All of this is at your fingertips if you live in Shoshone.

Overlooking my Idahome on top of Hyndman Peak outside of Ketchum, Idaho

Overlooking my Idahome on top of Hyndman Peak outside of Ketchum, Idaho

The sheer drop off on the other side of Hyndman Peak

The sheer drop off on the other side of Hyndman Peak

Fly fishing on the Big Lost River at dusk

Fly fishing on the Big Lost River at dusk

My next job will be in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI) conducting winter cave surveys for bats. I start in November, so in the meantime I’ll be staying with a friend up in Ketchum, Idaho and working for a landscaping company to make a little extra money. I’m excited because there’s still many peaks I want to climb, rivers I want to fish, and trails I want to bike and run before I leave Idaho.

A raised relief map of my next home, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

A raised relief map of my next home, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI). Found this at an antique fair in Ketchum, ID for $10!

Thanks for this awesome experience CLM and BLM. Come visit me in Ketchum or SEKI if you get the chance! And of course I shall leave y’all with a final E. Abbey quote:

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” -Edward Abbey

Until next time,

Avery Shawler

Shoshone BLM Office

Learning about Learning at the Garden

Youth Education - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:27pm

Meet Melyssa Guzman. She is one of 20 College First students who spent eight weeks learning about environmental science and doing a research project at the Chicago Botanic Garden. 

 College First student Mely G.

College First student Mely G. would like people to plant butterfly gardens in their yards.

Mely, as she likes to be called, is a junior in the Chicago Public Schools district. She’s kind of a “girlie” young woman who wears a lot of pink, and likes flowery, feminine things. Mely also loves science. Each student had a staff mentor; I was Mely’s. Her project was teaching the public about butterfly-attracting flowers.

Although drop-in programs and exhibitions may be considered more “education” than “science,” understanding how people learn is an area of social science research that can challenge a smart student like Mely. This summer, Mely learned that museums and public gardens often test exhibitions and learning activities, using methods similar to those practiced by conservation scientists, to see how visitors will respond.

Mely began by researching butterflies and the flowers they prefer. Then she decided to set up a display at the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition, where she would teach visitors what flowers to grow in their yards to attract butterflies. The display would have different kinds of flowers—real flowers and pictures—and she would stand and talk with people who were interested.

 Mely G. taking notes.

After each group of visitors, Mely recorded notes about how long they stayed at her table, and how interested they seemed.

As kids today would say, her first try was an “epic fail.” Most visitors looked at her display with curiosity, but they seemed perplexed and did not stop to learn more. The display was lovely, with fresh flowers and pictures of native butterflies, but it lacked a clear focus. It needed something else to draw visitors in. The display board kept blowing over, which was another big problem.

 Mely G. prepares a display.

Back to the drawing board: Mely made a new display— one that would stand up better and entice visitors with a title that asks: “What Is a Butterfly Flower?”

Mely brought the exhibit inside and modified the whole thing. Instead of using a folding display board, she mounted a poster board on a cardboard box so it would be more stable when taped to the table. She added a title, “What Is a Butterfly Flower?” as well as some facts about butterfly flowers. Then she tested the display again. After each group of visitors, she recorded the time they spent at her table, and gave them a score of 1 to 4 to rate how interested they were, the kinds of questions they asked, and things they talked about while looking at the display.

Museum exhibit developers call this process “rapid prototyping.” Inexpensive mock-ups of exhibits are tested to ensure they work—that visitors enjoy them and get the intended messages—before the museum invests a lot of money on a permanent display.

 2014 College First student Mely G. gives a demonstration.

A mother and daughter listen as Mely explains what colors, scents, and shapes attract butterflies to a flower.

Mely made a few more minor changes to her display. Then she tested a hypothesis. She observed that adults with children seemed more distracted than those without children; that they did not seem to talk to her as much as the childless groups. She hypothesized that adults without children would spend more time, ask more questions, and talk more about butterflies than mixed-generation groups. She used the data she gathered during prototyping the display, analyzing who stopped by her table, how long they spent, and how engaged they were.

Surprisingly, she discovered that families with children actually spent a little more time on average than adults alone. She thought this may be true because adults who brought children to her display spent their time explaining things to them instead of talking to her. In other words, the adults were not distracted, but were directing attention on their children to help them also learn from the display.

Mely does not fully realize that she has stumbled upon a very significant principle of learning: that learning is social. Educational research has shown that interaction between family members has a positive influence on learning in museums and in other environments. I’m very proud of Melyssa’s accomplishment this summer, and I look forward to seeing her expand her research next summer—because we both learned something!

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Learning about Learning at the Garden

Garden Blog - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:27pm

Meet Melyssa Guzman. She is one of 20 College First students who spent eight weeks learning about environmental science and doing a research project at the Chicago Botanic Garden. 

 College First student Mely G.

College First student Mely G. would like people to plant butterfly gardens in their yards.

Mely, as she likes to be called, is a junior in the Chicago Public Schools district. She’s kind of a “girlie” young woman who wears a lot of pink, and likes flowery, feminine things. Mely also loves science. Each student had a staff mentor; I was Mely’s. Her project was teaching the public about butterfly-attracting flowers.

Although drop-in programs and exhibitions may be considered more “education” than “science,” understanding how people learn is an area of social science research that can challenge a smart student like Mely. This summer, Mely learned that museums and public gardens often test exhibitions and learning activities, using methods similar to those practiced by conservation scientists, to see how visitors will respond.

Mely began by researching butterflies and the flowers they prefer. Then she decided to set up a display at the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition, where she would teach visitors what flowers to grow in their yards to attract butterflies. The display would have different kinds of flowers—real flowers and pictures—and she would stand and talk with people who were interested.

 Mely G. taking notes.

After each group of visitors, Mely recorded notes about how long they stayed at her table, and how interested they seemed.

As kids today would say, her first try was an “epic fail.” Most visitors looked at her display with curiosity, but they seemed perplexed and did not stop to learn more. The display was lovely, with fresh flowers and pictures of native butterflies, but it lacked a clear focus. It needed something else to draw visitors in. The display board kept blowing over, which was another big problem.

 Mely G. prepares a display.

Back to the drawing board: Mely made a new display— one that would stand up better and entice visitors with a title that asks: “What Is a Butterfly Flower?”

Mely brought the exhibit inside and modified the whole thing. Instead of using a folding display board, she mounted a poster board on a cardboard box so it would be more stable when taped to the table. She added a title, “What Is a Butterfly Flower?” as well as some facts about butterfly flowers. Then she tested the display again. After each group of visitors, she recorded the time they spent at her table, and gave them a score of 1 to 4 to rate how interested they were, the kinds of questions they asked, and things they talked about while looking at the display.

Museum exhibit developers call this process “rapid prototyping.” Inexpensive mock-ups of exhibits are tested to ensure they work—that visitors enjoy them and get the intended messages—before the museum invests a lot of money on a permanent display.

 2014 College First student Mely G. gives a demonstration.

A mother and daughter listen as Mely explains what colors, scents, and shapes attract butterflies to a flower.

Mely made a few more minor changes to her display. Then she tested a hypothesis. She observed that adults with children seemed more distracted than those without children; that they did not seem to talk to her as much as the childless groups. She hypothesized that adults without children would spend more time, ask more questions, and talk more about butterflies than mixed-generation groups. She used the data she gathered during prototyping the display, analyzing who stopped by her table, how long they spent, and how engaged they were.

Surprisingly, she discovered that families with children actually spent a little more time on average than adults alone. She thought this may be true because adults who brought children to her display spent their time explaining things to them instead of talking to her. In other words, the adults were not distracted, but were directing attention on their children to help them also learn from the display.

Mely does not fully realize that she has stumbled upon a very significant principle of learning: that learning is social. Educational research has shown that interaction between family members has a positive influence on learning in museums and in other environments. I’m very proud of Melyssa’s accomplishment this summer, and I look forward to seeing her expand her research next summer—because we both learned something!

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

The phone hummed…

CLM Internship Blog - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 9:35am

The phone hummed, buzzing on the book next to Cooper’s mattress. An electric guitar cried out the tune of “Up Around The Bend.” Cooper awoke with a start, frantic to subdue the noise before it woke up his housemate down the hall. Without a second thought about the dream he was having about biking through the woods of an old-growth forest, Cooper sat up on the side of his bed, feet planted firmly on the wooden floor.

Another day was unfolding before Cooper, another day that, even though he had a comfort and routine with his work as a CLM intern at the Four Rivers Field Office in Boise, would more than likely bring about something unexpected. Omelette with toast for breakfast, carrot sticks, trail mix, and rice and beans in his pack for lunch, Cooper slipped out into the cool early morning.

The sun illuminated the sky like a mother watching her son grow. More and more the sun would rise but only until you looked away would it become evident how quickly it was changing, how quickly it was rising to warm the earth below it. Cooper loved this moment of the day. He especially loved the days in the field that would have already begun well before sunrise, so that he could walk through the grasses and feel more than see the sunrise.

Today was no such day. Today Cooper arrived at the office to hear that both he and his co-explorer, Prairie, would be seated upon their thrones in the great hall that was their cubicle. The posters hung, woven from the finest fibers, the text books rested, breathing slowly with their old age, and the two computers blinked, waking from their slumber. A fresh stack of DIMA-data sat upon their desk, letting off a sweet aroma of printer ink and pencil lead. With the click of the mouse and the tap of the keys on their keyboards, they were off. Soaring through plant codes, ground cover types, and sagebrush heights, the two interns sat stoically perched upon their computer chairs. This data would be reported throughout all the lands, both public and private. It was of the utmost importance that it be entered with diligence and care. Cooper and Prairie had grown to love each plant code as their own, subspecies after subspecies, each more cherished than the last.

And so this glorious DIMA-data entry day came and went. A beautiful reminder of the things and places we hold dear, the moments of the day we look forward to, and the joys of what being a CLM intern brings.

*The character names in this piece were inspired by a couple of raptor friends that we were privileged to get to meet and see this past week. Thanks for letting me get a little prose-y. Thought it would be fun to re-imagine the office days that are sometimes harder to love than the field days. Hope all is well with everyone!

p.s. I apologize for the tardiness.

Banding a Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) near Snowbank Mountain, Idaho.

Banding a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) near Snowbank Mountain, Idaho.

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Top of a switchback along Alice Lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness Area.

Top of a switchback along Alice Lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness Area.

Campsite at Toxaway Lake for our weekend hike in the Sawtooth Range.

Campsite at Toxaway Lake for our weekend hike in the Sawtooth Range.

Working on a river in the desert

CLM Internship Blog - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 4:27pm
Heading out with my boss for cuckoo surveys

Me and my boss heading out at sunrise to do yellow billed cuckoo surveys

Round-tailed Horned Lizard

Round-tailed Horned Lizard. These lizards are rock mimics

Very hard to see but there is a burrowing owl in this picture

Very hard to see but there is a burrowing owl in this picture

Aloha from Carlsbad, New Mexico. A few weeks ago I finished my work on the Dune Sagebrush Lizard. I am proud to say that my team was able to catch 15 of these little guys and we were also able to catch some in areas where no one had ever got close to trapping before. It’s safe to say that after digging over 300 holes to set pitfall traps I have become quite good at digging holes.

I have now shifted my focus on several riparian areas near Carlsbad. Specifically, I have been conducting macro-invertebrate, substrate, and water quality samples to determine steam health and community composition in the Pecos, Delaware, and Black river systems. I also conducted multiple yellow billed cuckoo surveys across the aforementioned rivers to detect a presence or absence of the birds.

One of my favorite days was conducting burrowing owl surveys where a potential oil line may be placed through. Several burrowing owl colonies were discovered in the oil pipeline right of way, so the construction company will have to re-route the pipe so they do not disturb the birds. The owls are quite personal and I was able to observe some of their natural behaviors in a beautiful part of the state. Being a herp nerd, I was pretty excited about seeing my first round tailed horned lizard Phrynosoma modestum while conducting some of these burrowing owl surveys. In the next few weeks I should start work conducting prairie chicken surveys and capturing and tagging birds found in riparian areas around Carlsbad.

The weather is starting to cool down and I am still exploring as much of the state as possible, and thoroughly enjoying myself. I can’t believe this internship ends in about a month. Until next time.

The Eriogonum Epiphany

CLM Internship Blog - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 2:59pm

After a lull in collecting, we are at it again, this time with late season Eriogonum species (elatum and strictum), yellow rabbitbrush, and hoary tansyaster. We also are going to do a second collection of Erigonum umberllatum found from a late-blooming population up high. During my time here as a CLM intern I really have gained an appreciation for the rough-and-tough, grow-nearly-everywhere nature of buckwheats. From scorching desert rock outcrops to wind-whipped alpine tundra, from the ashes of recently burned areas to gravel substrate at a 65° slope, buckwheats prevail. This genus not only colonizes and thrives in areas other plants may be too picky, or too “high maintenance” for, but it is one of the most important plants to have around for beneficial insects, and it helps suppress weeds. My mentor recently found a paper published this past May elaborating on how fantastic buckwheats are for conservation, restoration, and pollination. You can read it here: http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1603/EN13342

I guess my love for buckwheats is a living metaphor for my love of the West.

Growing up in Colorado I may have taken the breathtaking mountains, the sweet, but bitter-sharp smell of the aspens, and the laid-back warmth of the people for granted. It was really never until this summer, traveling between Idaho and Wyoming, spending every single weekend climbing, hiking, or exploring new towns and new wilderness that I realized how amazing and special the West truly is. Eriogonums to me are a symbol of the West—ever progressing, gloriously rugged, resilient, adventurous, and determined in spirit. Their spherical pom-pom inflorescence is like something only from fable and are often overlooked by most, but are sought after by those who realize their importance and character. My eyes have opened to the workhorse that the West is, much like the buckwheat, and how important public land—just like the buckwheat—is to conservation and restoration and producing resources. So here is a sticker-clad worn water bottle toast to buckwheats and to the spirit of the West, and may both ever endure…

 This is El Capitan above Alice Lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act being signed into congress, here are a few photos from my past two weekends: This is El Capitan above Alice Lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness

Did an awesome 21 mile backpacking trip through the Alice/Toxaway loop in the Sawtooth Wilderness with Joe, our mentor, and Zander. The moon was so bright, it was the first time we had experienced moon-shadows!

Did an awesome 21 mile backpacking trip through the Alice/Toxaway loop in the Sawtooth Wilderness with Joe, our mentor, and Zander. The moon was so bright, it was the first time we had experienced moon-shadows!

Over labor-day weekend I explored the Absarokas in Wyoming. This is on the way up to Franc's peak--the highest point.

Over labor-day weekend I explored the Absarokas in Wyoming. This is on the way up to Franc’s peak–the highest point.

Elk hunting in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness by the WY/MT border outside Yellowstone. Really trying not to get eaten by a Grizzly.

Elk hunting in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness by the WY/MT border outside Yellowstone. Really trying not to get eaten by a Grizzly.

The Panorama view from Sleeping Bear Peak in the Absarokas. This time I was trying to see Grizzlies at a moth site

The Panorama view from Sleeping Bear Peak in the Absarokas. This time I was trying to see Grizzlies at a moth site

Winding down

CLM Internship Blog - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 9:42am

With our SOS goals met and exceeded, field season is finally coming to a close. At the end of August, we traveled to the remote town of McGrath to make our final SOS collections via helicopter. Three days and forty-two collections later, we met our 70-collection quota for the season! Upon returning to Anchorage, the following week was spent digitizing and organizing data, and on Thursday we sent our seed off to the Plant Materials Center in Palmer for cleaning and processing. Since then, we’ve been mounting vouchers more or less constantly.

Floodplains just west of McGrath

Floodplains just west of McGrath

Ridgetops as seen from the helicopter.

Nomex and voucher-material-collecting

Nomex and voucher-material-collecting

The panoramic vista from our collection site at Mystery Mountain

The panoramic vista from our collection site at Mystery Mountain

Polygonal tundra!

Polygonal tundra!

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Last week, I joined a handful of folks from the BLM Anchorage office, The Kuskokwim Corporation (a Native corporation), and the Army Corps of Engineers on a trip to Red Devil Mine. Red Devil Mine is a retired cinnabar mining facility is currently being rehabilitated by the BLM. Thus far, engineers have rerouted Red Devil Creek so as to minimize contamination from old pilings. My task was to collect seed and to scout for potential next-season SOS collections so that local seed sources will be available when the project reaches the revegetation stage.

Cinnabar! Presumably the namesake of the village, too.

Cinnabar! Presumably the namesake of the village, too.

On Thursday, we leave for our final stint with the NRCS Soil/EcoSite Survey crews. This time we’re headed up to the village of Central, which lies about 100mi NE of Fairbanks, and with the Alaskan Autumn already in full swing, it promises to be a chilly stint indeed.

Immersing myself in Alaska’s autumn ochre while backpacking in Kachemak Bay State Park

All in all, it’s been a wonderfully productive field season. I’m sad to see the long days fade, but I’m excited for the season of winter sports and kitschy sweaters to commence!

Until our return from Central,
BB

Bring on the Rain

CLM Internship Blog - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 9:39am

Trees!

Rain!

I’ve officially spent multiple days in the two things that make me happiest!

Lovely rain

Look! Trees! In the distance! Soothes my displaced PNW soul.

Grand Tetons, looking across Jenny Lake.

Grand Tetons, looking across Jenny Lake. So dramatic and beautiful if really quite cold.

Fall seems to have hit Wyoming early this year. Suddenly, attempting to make our last few seed collections is becoming difficult. We should have had a natural lull between our grasses and forbs and our shrubs but now we struggle just to get into the field. Everything is too sodden. Constant rain and thunderstorms have practically stopped all field work (well, thunderstorms and my sinus infection; goodbye 2-year, illness-free streak). Can’t have soaked, moldy seeds and can’t drive on clay roads in the rain. Can’t really function with your head on the floor or feeling like it should be although you swear you’re sitting upright.

However, as our mentor likes to say “the seeds come first.” So, in the last weeks we’ve finished 18 collections, have one partially complete, all data sheets are up-to-date and all information is written in standardized format, half our collections are shipped, and everything is verified. Now, if it will only pause in the unseasonable rain and let us finish our last Psoralidium lanceolatum, Elymus elmoides, Geranium richardsonii, both our Krascheninnikovia lanata, and both our Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus collections we will only have to wait for our Artemisia collections and we will be done!

I do love grey, stormy weather, I do love rain, but this is August. I just want to finish those collections so we can help with new projects. For example: next week we get a rare break to take two days to help the fisheries biologist survey Muddy Creek, an area of special interest as it is prime habitat for four fish species endemic to the Colorado Basin; Colorado River cutthroat, bluehead sucker, flannelmouth sucker, and roundtail chub. Coal and natural gas development in the area cause huge amounts of waste water that has not always been properly disposed of, often making its way into the riparian system. Agricultural runoff, grazing, and a naturally high sediment load further stress this watershed. Finally, invasive species prey upon and have begun hybridizing with the native species. I really just want to get back to some solid hydrology work. I miss working survey and hydro and I’m pretty stoked to get to learn a new protocol and help with a new project.

Outside work, I spend most of my time trying to find ways to stay sane. Sometimes, sanity is really difficult to find and to keep in a place like Rawlins, WY. So, I run away on weekends. Or I dog sit. Dog sitting is good. I don’t have to stay at the barracks. I get to breathe for a second when I dog sit. I also get a lot of free salmon, antelope steaks, white tail burgers, white tail tenderloin, and ground elk. I never ate much meat before coming here but this is different. This is all sustainably hunted and processed, hormone-free, fantastic, tender, game meat. Shoot, never thought I’d say or write such a thing: I get paid in meat. Ha!

I also ramble, I knew that though. Here, pretty flower pictures! Cool bugs!

Scarlet Gillia, Prospect Creek Road.

Scarlet Gilia, Prospect Creek Road, S of Riverside off 230 E toward CO.

Geranium richardsonii, Prospect Creek Road.
Geranium richardsonii, Prospect Creek Road.

Cool bug

Cool caterpillar

I also apparently forgot to hit the “submit for review” button so this is now quite late. Whoops!

BLM Rawlins, WY

 

 

Operation: Do Everything Humanly Possible!

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:00am

Sorry everyone! I am a week late! o_O I have been very busy with all sorts of projects and adventures! No worries, this blog entry is going to be shorter than my other entries… I think ^_^;;

Wildlife Society: Wyoming Chapter Annual Conference

For a couple of days, all of the interns had the opportunity to go to the Wildlife Society’s Wyoming Chapter Annual Conference! This conference was located in Sheridan, Wyoming, which was a thirty minute drive away! We went to many lectures that involved the study of ungulates, diseases, rodents, birds, lizards, and bat surveying. Most of the lectures involved sage grouse, mule deer, and moose. We learned a lot about the inner workings of what the wildlife biologists and policy makers in Wyoming and other Central Plain states do for a living. This was a great place to make connections, network, and learn about new research opportunities. We even met two other CLM interns, Lila and David, from Cheyenne, Wyoming! Since I did not go to the Chicago Botanic Gardens this year, it was nice to see other interns and hear about what they do for their job. Overall, the conference was very educational and I learned a great deal about GIS, wildlife biology, and the importance of restoration/ mitigation studies.

Heather, Myself, Jill, BLM Legend Don, and Sara at the Wildlife Society Conference

Heather, Myself, Jill, BLM Legend Don, and Sara at the Wildlife Society Conference! \(^_^)/

PRBR: Powder River Basin Restoration Program

Heather had the fantastic opportunity to work on the PRBR program. This study helped with the restoration and enhancement of sage grouse habitat. She would take us to different sites to do an assortment of ground truthing projects. Heather wanted to make sure that the ground truthing/ ocular estimates were similar to the supervised classifications developed from the ArcGIS program. This would help with an accurate assessment later in the planning stages. We mapped different juniper stands, looked for prairie dog towns, and estimated cheatgrass cover density. The results would help with future restoration projects involving the spraying of cheatgrass and the planting of sagebrush and other native plants in the area to promote ideal sage grouse roosting conditions. (Heather could give you a more detailed explanation of the project… I am just giving the cliff notes. <_<;;)

Determining cheatgrass densities using the ocular estimate method.

Determining cheatgrass densities using the ocular estimate method.

When we would go out to some of the sites, we would draw the landscape on a paper map with colored pencils showing where there were cheatgrass patches, sagebrush, warm season grasses, and bare ground areas. Heather would then use a detailed scale form to assess the landscape. All of the sites we visited had fire history, so we were looking within the fire perimeter for disturbed areas and cheatgrass densities.

When doing PRBR assessments, sometimes we would go by prairie dog villages and see burrowing owls. They were pretty hard to find. If you look carefully, you can find one in this picture! ^_^

When doing PRBR assessments, we would go by prairie dog villages and see burrowing owls. They were pretty hard to find. If you look carefully, you can find one in this picture! ^_^;;

Office Work! Into the BLM Catacombs!

Did you know that the Buffalo BLM has their own hallway-road system within their office? They labeled each hallway with a specific name and there were maps of the office layout in different cubicles in case you were lost. Especially in the beginning of my internship, you could easily get lost within the building when trying to find the filing system. That was just a fun fact! ^_^;

An over exaggerated representation (brought to you by my imagination) of what I thought the BLM office looked like when I first arrived for my internship.

An over exaggerated representation (brought to you by my imagination) of what I thought the BLM office looked like when I first arrived for my internship.

Anyways, Sara and I were very busy with all kinds of office work relating to our 2014 field season.  Our main job would be to work with DIMA (Database for Inventory, Monitoring, and Assessment) and make maps with the ArcGIS. DIMA required a large amount of data entry involving habitat quality, species list, detailed notes, sagebrush densities, topography, slope, fire history, grazing history, invasive plants, water sources, climate, transect data, and soil profiles to name a few. We also had to develop detailed maps of our study area to help with future monitoring efforts. My goal would be to make the most detailed and accurate maps ever. After DIMA and the maps, photograph files of the transects for each site would have to be developed. In the end, we would have to enter the catacombs of the filing system room and create folders for each of the allotments we monitored. All of our data entry would be printed out and put into a folder within the filing system.

The Return of Russian Thistle

Watch out! Russian thistle is ready to take over!

Watch out! Russian thistle is ready to take over! Luckily the Buffalo CLM Interns are ready to weed!

We had to return to Welch Ranch Recreation Area to continue with weeding. Most of the field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) had been pulled, except for a few sneaky plants growing under the plastic tarps within the green needlegrass (Nassella viridula) section. With the absence of field bindweed, Russian thistle (Salsola tragus) wanted to take control and dominate over the southern section of the BLM Field of Dreams. Most of the Russian thistle was difficult to remove, because they had matured and developed a series of tiny spines. Each plant was the size of a softball with some growing to the size of a soccer ball. They love disturbed sites and each plant contained around 250,000 seeds! Fortunately for us, they were very easy to pull out of the ground. All of the interns used thick leather or rubber gloves and pulled a large amount of the Russian thistle. Now the bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) and green needlegrass were at peace thanks to the weeding efforts of the Buffalo, CLM interns. Looks like the Russian thistle would not make another appearance until next season.

CLM Interns weeding the Russian thistle. ^_^

CLM Interns weeding the Russian thistle. ^_^

To Newcastle, Wyoming! Where are you, Paper Birch!?

Jill was given the task by one of the Buffalo BLM fire planner staff members to go out into the field and collect seed from paper birch (Betula papyrifera) in the Black Hills region in the Newcastle District. The goal was to collect seed to help with future post fire restoration efforts. Jill, Heather, and I drove to the Newcastle BLM to pick up Caroline, who was another CLM intern who knew a lot about the Newcastle District. She helped us navigate in the back logging roads to the areas where there were paper birch! Caroline was talking about the forestry practices and helped us identify all kinds of trees. We went to two sites to look for paper birch. The first site was not very productive and we did not find a lot of birch trees.  We looked in different areas near ravines or valleys, but there were hardly any birch. We followed the map to the second site. When we arrived at our next destination, we found a huge population of paper birch!! They all had seed, but the majority of the crop was not ready to be harvested yet, so Jill would have to come back in a couple of weeks to collect some of the birch seeds.

On an adventure to find the elusive paper birch trees. We eventually found a huge patch!

On an adventure to find the elusive paper birch trees. We eventually found a huge patch!

Misadventures

Grand Tetons

On Labor Day weekend, all of the interns and one of the seasonal employees decided to visit Grand Tetons National Park! This area was my favorite place to visit! I must have been to this region at least twenty times in my life. Even though the weather was rainy and a little cloudy, we managed to do a couple of hikes, look at different visitor centers, visit Jackson Hole, watch all of the sunsets, take many pictures, and try to find as many bird species as possible. This place was so beautiful even with all of the rain clouds!

Some pictures of the Grand Tetons and their biological wonders!

Some pictures of the Grand Tetons and their biological wonders!

Would You Like to Go Rock Hounding?

Wyoming offers an abundance of wildlife, trails, mountains, and festivals, unfortunately they do not have many areas to go rock hounding. Areas like Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, or California have a plethora of rocks, minerals, and fossils. The state of Wyoming does have plenty of fossils, but they do not have a lot of interesting rocks or minerals. One of the most bountiful objects that could be found almost everywhere in the Buffalo Field Office District was degraded petrified wood. Some areas have orange calcite and interesting gypsum crystals. Areas around by Worland do have agates, jasper, star impact calcite, but they were hard to find. I do have a nice collection of rocks including a small meteorite that I found in the field! I am still on the search for rare rocks and minerals. Hopefully, I would hit the jackpot soon! ^_^

Here is an example of the rocks, minerals, and fossils I found in the field!

Here is an example of the rocks, minerals, and fossils I found in the field!

Thank you everyone for reading!! Have an awesome day! \(^_^\)

Justin Chappelle
CLM Intern
Buffalo, Wyoming

And now…I will leave you with a picture of a bemused cow in mid-chew.

Bemused cow.

Bemused cow.

 

Field and Office

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:51am

Hello,

The time here, in Carson City, as I presume everywhere else, flies fast. It is already autumn and I can’t believe that I’ve been here for more than half a year… Back in spring we saw all around vegetation sleeping, then flourishing and blooming. In the same way winter birds were here, then they left and are coming back already. As time is passing by, we try to be efficient, as usual, working on same projects but, of course, faster and better. As we spend three out of four week days in the field, a pile with completed field datasheets keeps growing. Which is logical and natural but at the same time, is always pleasant to notice. As we spent our summer primarily in the field, the oncoming events are going to balance our duties a little. This past weekend we had a Labor Day event at Sand Mountain, then we’re going to have a Public Lands Day and Tree Day. All of these recreational/educational events require an incredible amount of time for preparations. I’m sure we’ll do our best. The memories from the past weekend are still bright and vivid but after the Labor Day rest all efforts are directed to work again. Hopefully, along with decreasing temperatures the time flow will slow down a little too…

Until next time,

Andrii

Carson City, BLM

Big Bear Lake, August – Sept.

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:49am
DSCN3669

cf Solorina spongiosa

 

DSCN3460

San Bernardino grass of Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata var. cirrata, white flowers) on a rocky ledge on the Frontcountry RD

DSCN4019

Dwarf checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora dolosa) in a meadow in the Santa Ana River valley

 

We conducted night surveys for arroyo toad at the Deep Creek hot springs in late August (my last blog post included a bit about this endangered toad).  The hot springs are good habitat for this species because the warm water excludes non-native trout, which feed on the toads.  A more lurid inhabitant of these hot springs is an ameba called Naegleria fowleri, which enters the human body through the nostrils and can cause a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).  PAM caused by N. fowleri infection is rare; since 1962, there have been 134 reported cases in the US (CDC).  However, the survival rate from infection by N. fowleri is very low; of those 132 cases, three (2.3%) have survived.   The presence of this ameba doesn’t seem to deter the many people who soak in these hot springs.

One interesting find in the past few weeks was a possible location of Solorina spongiosa, “fringed chocolate chip lichen”This lichen has relatively large, brown, sunken apothecia (fruiting bodies), which are surrounded by a distinctive ring of green tissue.  It has a worldwide distribution, but is rare in California.

I’ve been continuing surveys in the Santa Ana River drainage, focusing on areas near roads and streams, and also monitoring older occurrences.  One showy inhabitant of meadows and streams in this area is Sidalcea malvaflora subsp. dolosa (pictured).  We finished the invasive plant guide and will print this fall.

Mountaintop Ranger District

San Bernardino National Forest

Traveling Down the Glacier

Garden Blog - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:58am

There’s more to the new North Branch Trail addition than meets the eye.

It’s a great story to tell the kids or to share with a biking buddy as you try out the North Branch Trail addition. Join us for the grand opening: Saturday, September 13, starting at 2 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:30 p.m. (Details here.)

 A view from the boardwalk east to Green Bay Road.

A view from the boardwalk east to Green Bay Road

On the surface (literally), it’s a lovely new bike/pedestrian trail that slopes down from Green Bay Road, skirting the north edge of Turnbull Woods and linking up to the outer road of the Chicago Botanic Garden. But dig a little deeper (literally and figuratively), and you’ll find the reason for that slope: the “hill” is actually the remnants of a glacier. Its proper name is the Highland Park Moraine. It’s one of a series of five, collectively called the Lake Border Moraine System, found on the inland border of Lake Michigan.

 The moraines of the region, including Highland Park Moraine.

A helpful map for visualizing the ups and downs of the moraines and the valleys in between. Source: Luman, Donald E., LiDAR Surface Topography of Lake County, Illinois. ©2013 University of Illinois Board of Trustees. All rights reserved. LiDAR map courtesy of the Illinois State Geological Survey.

Flashback to geology class: a moraine is a giant accumulation—a ridge—of clay/sand/gravel pushed forward by the leading edge of a glacier, then left behind as it shifts its motion and melts/recedes. Moraines vary in sizes and heights.

Glacial ice that once covered northern Illinois began to recede about 14,000 years ago, leaving the five moraines, like scallops in the landscape, with the oldest to the west, the youngest to the east.

Oldest and furthest west is the Park Ridge Moraine; to the east of it is the Deerfield Moraine. The lowland between them is the west fork of the North Branch of the Chicago River. Third is the Blodgett Moraine; its creation dates back to 13,000-plus years ago. The valley between it and the Deerfield Moraine is the Middle Fork branch of the Des Plaines River. Next comes the Highland Park Moraine, formed about 13,000 years ago; Green Bay Road was built along its crest. The Chicago Botanic Garden lies in the Skokie River Valley between the Highland Park and the Blodgett Moraines. Finally, a bit north and east lies the Zion City Moraine, the youngest of the five.

As if all that isn’t cool enough, the Highland Park Moraine is also a mini-section of the Eastern Subcontinental Divide: water from the Highland Park Moraine drains toward Lake Michigan (Great Lakes watershed) on the east side, and into the Skokie River Valley (Mississippi River watershed) on the west side.

 A chart showing the geological specifications of the Highland Park Moraine.

Most people are familiar with the Continental Divide near the middle of the country; a secondary divide travels along our edge of Lake Michigan.

Planning & Planting

 Lake sedge (Carex lacustris).

Sedges do well in spring rain/flood conditions, helping dissipate water through respiration.

Planning for the new bike/pedestrian path included much deliberation about the plants that were already growing at the site.

As construction neared, ecologist Jim Steffen reached out to Glencoe Friends of the Greenbay Trail and Betsy Leibson, who heads up the all-volunteer group, which is dedicated to restoring the sections of the Green Bay Trail bike path that run through their town (and ours).

Steffen offered to donate hundreds of sedges (Carex pensylvanica and Carex hirtifolia) that were in the path of construction—and then helped Leibson and volunteers dig them up for transplanting along their trail. The sedges are reportedly thriving. GFGT showed their appreciation in such an appropriate way: see their July 14 post about it here.

 

 Bike.5 Reasons to Love the North Branch Trail Extension

  1. It’s safe (for all the bike riders who’ve wobbled in a vehicle’s wake on busy Lake Cook Road!).
  2. It’s ADA-accessible: 10 feet wide, smoothly paved, and appropriately inclined.
  3. It’s convenient for pedestrians heading to and from the Braeside Metra train station.
  4. It’s family-friendly for strollers and toddlers, and shepherding groups of kids toward the Garden.
  5. It’s the long dreamed-of and anticipated mile-long missing link between Cook County’s North Branch Trail and Lake County’s Green Bay Trail.

Become a Bicycling Member!

How smart is this? A special membership for those who ride their bikes to the Garden instead of driving. With plenty of perks included (discounts, member magazine, tax deductibility), but sans parking privileges, it’s a sensible and cost-efficient (just $50 annually) way to show your support for the Garden.

 Happy bikers.

Become a bike member of the Garden!

A bike membership makes a great gift for the bikers in your life, too.

Check it out here!

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Damselflies 101

Garden Blog - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 9:30am

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a great place to find damselflies. You can find them in every location here, and different locations will often yield different species.

 Rare form of male Eastern Forktail damselfly.

This is the rare form of the male eastern forktail damselfly. You can see what looks like an exclamation point on its back, similar to the fragile forktail damselfly. ©Carol Freeman

For example, you might find stream bluets along the river and orange bluets hanging out on the lily pads. Most species measure about an inch in length and can be easily overlooked, but when you take time to slow down and search for these tiny gems, you will be rewarded with finding some of nature’s most beautiful hunters. Indeed, these tiny insects are fierce hunters—but don’t worry, as they neither bite nor sting humans. Their preferred food choice is other, smaller insects (including mosquitoes).

The main differences between dragonflies and damselflies are their size and wing positions. Damselflies, in general, are smaller, and hold their wings over their abdomens. Dragonflies tend to be larger, with a heavier body, and hold their wings out to the side.

The most common species around here is the eastern forktail damselfly. Identifying them can be tricky, as they come in several different varieties! The males and females look very different from each other, and the females change color as they age.

 Male Eastern Forktail damselfly.

This is the most common coloring for the adult male eastern forktail damselfly (Ischnura verticalis). Note the blue on the end of the abdomen. ©Carol Freeman

 Immature female Eastern Forktail damselfly.

This is a young female eastern forktail damselfly (Ischnura verticalis). She will turn a light, powdery blue as she ages. ©Carol Freeman

 Female Eastern Forktail damselfly.

This is the most common coloring of the adult female eastern forktail damselfly (Ischnura verticalis). ©Carol Freeman

 

 Male Fragile Forktail damselfly.

This is an adult male fragile forktail (Ischnura posita) — similar to the rare form of the eastern forktail. Keep your eyes open for this one, as they often fly near the eastern forktails. ©Carol Freeman

I like to get out early in the morning. The light is low, there is often dew, and the insects move a bit more slowly until they warm up. One of my favorite places in the Garden to photograph damselflies is in the Dixon Prairie. They like to hang out on the grasses there. Walking slowly on the path next to the plants, you will see what look like tiny flying sticks. Damselflies will often congregate in one area and, if disturbed, sometimes land just a short distance away. I like to use my 105mm or 200mm macro lenses to photograph these beauties. They will fly until the first really hard frost. There are dozens of species native to this area—all of them beautiful and fierce hunters. 

 An adult female Eastern Forktail damselfly eating another insect.

Here is an adult female eastern forktail damselfly with her catch of the day. ©Carol Freeman

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

A French landscape architect in Chicago

Garden Blog - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 10:12am

I am a July 2014 graduate of the National School of Landscape Architecture of Versailles in France, where I studied landscape architecture for seven years. I like this field because each project is different, and we can work on different kinds of spaces and scales; park and garden projects, or public space (square, street, district) studies for cities or larger territories. For my diploma, I worked on a landscape project for salt marshes in a huge area in the south of France.

 Maxime Soens with the Fruit & Vegetable Garden terraces.

Standing on the bridge to the Fruit & Vegetable Garden; terraces and apple trees as a backdrop

I chose to do an internship here in the United States to learn more about plants and the American garden culture. This internship was initiated by the French Heritage Society, which has organized student exchanges between France and the United States for the past 30 years. I am here through a partnership with the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Ragdale Foundation, an artists’ community in Lake Forest.

I spent four weeks at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden working under that garden’s horticulturist, Lisa Hilgenberg. The team was great, and it was a really interesting experience to discover new vegetable species or new ways of maintenance. I have done similar internships before, like in the kitchen garden of the King in Versailles, or at Potager du Roi, but those were not educational vegetable gardens like the one here in Glencoe. The Chicago Botanic Garden is wonderful, and I appreciate particularly the quality and variety of its vegetal compositions. Generally, I’m very impressed by the work of American gardeners and landscape architects. They are perfectionists. 

 The Grand Square of Potager du Roi.

The Grand Square of Potager du Roi. This three-hectare garden is composed of 16 squares bordered by espalier pear trees that are grown upon support frameworks. The majority of the garden’s vegetable plants is located within this area. « Potager du Roi » par Paris HistoireTravail personnel. Sous licence CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

When I was not at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I worked at the Ragdale House to help with the volunteer gardeners. It’s a historic garden designed by the famous architect Howard Van Doren Shaw at the end of the nineteenth century. Uses of the garden have changed since then, and there are different kinds of challenges for the maintenance today. I was asked to design a project for the garden as part of my internship. During this process, the prairie was a source of inspiration for me, as it is a typical landscape of Illinois. My main goal was to find a new link between the house, the garden, and the prairie, and I chose prairie native plants for a lower maintenance in the flower beds.

 Maxine's presentation for Ragdale.

The finished project/proposal for Ragdale is displayed at its Benefactors’ Garden Party. Low-maintenance native plants create a link between the house, the garden, and the prairie.

My stay at Lake Forest and Glencoe was an enriching exchange with the gardeners and the artists, and I hope that it will be the beginning of a new relationship in the coming years.

Maxime Soens
Paysagiste DPLG

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Late summer comes to the Bulb Garden

Garden Blog - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 8:30am

One should never assume that this late in the season we are done with blooming bulbs—that simply isn’t the case. There are still plenty of bulbs blooming their hearts out! Summer annual bulbs like dahlias, cannas, and begonias are still blooming like crazy, and several unusual perennial bulbs are just starting their show.

 Bulb Garden path.

Annual bulbs such as Dahlia help carry the Graham Bulb Garden through the summer.

Lycoris have many common names—surprise lily, magic lily, naked ladies, and several more—which allude to the fact that these flowers spring forth from bare ground with no leaves in sight. (They leaf out in spring without blooming and then go dormant; blooms appear in fall as a single stalk appears from the bare ground where the bulb resides.) There are currently two species blooming in the Graham Bulb Garden. Lycoris chinensis has beautiful golden-yellow flowers, and Lycoris incarnata has pale pink flowers striped with magenta, giving it the common name of peppermint surprise lily. 

 Magic Lily (Lycoris chinensis)

Magic lily (Lycoris chinensis)

 Peppermint surprise lily (Lycoris incarnata)

Peppermint surprise lily (Lycoris incarnata)

Autumn squill (Scilla numidica) is a rarely-seen relative of the spring blooming Siberian squill (Scilla siberica). It features soft pink wands of flowers that will gently reseed to form a colony.

 Autumn squill (Scilla numidica).

Autumn squill (Scilla numidica)

Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’ is a hardy relative of the ever-popular florist alstroemeria. The yellow-and-orange blooms begin in July and persist for weeks. Just like their cultivated relatives, these make excellent cut flowers.

 Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'.

Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’

The shadier parts of the Bulb Garden aren’t being left out this late in the season, either. Annual bulbs such as Begonia ‘Million Kisses Honeymoon’ and Caladium ‘Raspberry Moon’ help light up a dark area under the crabapples (Malus ‘Selkirk’). And containers spill over with a cascade of blooming bulb varieties.

 Bulb Garden path.

Begonia ‘Million Kisses Honeymoon’ and Caladium ‘Raspberry Moon’ light up the right side of the path, while wood aster (Eurybia divaricata) helps hide the bare stems of the lilies on the left side.

 

 Container garden featuring a mix of bulbs.

Bulbs even work in containers! This container in the Bulb Garden features a mix of annuals: Scaevola aemula ‘New Wonder’, Lantana ‘Little Lucky Red’ and Helichrysum petiolare ‘Limelight’ with a pair of smaller-scale bulbs, Tulbaghia violacea ‘Silver Lace’ and Oxalis adenophylla.

There is still a lot going on in the Bulb Garden, and there is still more to come!

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Interns Harvest More Than Veggies

Community Gardening - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 8:30am

A summer spent at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden is full of little joys and big surprises.

Interning at Windy City Harvest, we (Lesley and Rachel) started our time with grand plans to become farmers, urban agriculture pioneers, business owners, and horticulturists. We thought a summer at the parent organization—the Chicago Botanic Garden—learning about a vast collection of fruit and vegetable plant varieties would be a good way to jump-start our careers in the field.

But the weather and the Garden had a much different education for us in mind.

 Fruit and Veg interns Leslie and Rachel

Fruit & Vegetable interns Leslie and Rachel weeding the beds

The summer’s weather has been very cool and wet: this is not ideal for some of the fruiting crops that most people prize. Cucumbers and squash are everywhere and right on schedule, but the bright red, heavy tomatoes we love to harvest this time of year are taking a bit longer to ripen in the cooler weather. And yet, the cooler weather has brought visitors to the Garden in friendly droves. These visitors (avid gardeners, young children, families, and globetrotters) have encouraged us to keep the garden in good shape throughout the season, and shared their own sense of wonder about fruits and vegetables.

Although the Chicago Botanic Garden has a separate garden—the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden—dedicated to working with children, many families bring their children to visit the Fruit & Vegetable Garden while they are here because of the broad range of fruit and vegetables we have on display. They can also learn about bees or growing watermelons. They may even spot toads here and there, if they have a quick eye.

 Potato flower (Solanum tuberosum 'Kennebec')

Can you identify this gorgeous bloom? Its tubers are a staple food crop.

Both of us have enjoyed showing children how carrots and potatoes grow, since those plants, specifically, look very different when they are growing than when they are on a plate. Getting the chance to talk to children about food and farming has affirmed our commitment to the work that lies ahead. Sharing our knowledge about growing healthy, sustainable food is one of the most important skills that we can develop as future farmers.

One warm July day, a group of 7- and 8-year-olds walked into the garden, where we happened to be cultivating “the three sisters” (corn, beans, and squash). They stopped in their tracks, entranced by the long ears of corn. “Do you know where popcorn comes from?” Rachel asked. The curious kids looked at one another, shrugged, and all eyes turned to the apprentice farmer. She asked the children to look around and spot the plant that might be responsible for the delicious snack. Suddenly, it dawned on a few of them, and they jumped and pointed, “It’s the corn! It’s the corn!” The corn plants took on a new significance when we were able to put them into context.

 Popcorn cob

The discovery of how favorite foods grow brings delight in the garden.

The diversity of plant life in the Fruit & Vegetable Garden attracts some of the most inquisitive, passionate, and skilled gardeners from around the globe. Patrons are constantly asking us questions about plant varieties, weather patterns, soil amendments, and why our eggplants don’t look like their eggplants. They want to know what cardoons taste like, or where we sell the gigantic Zephyr squash.

 Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)

A highlight of the vast collection displayed at the Fruit & Vegetable Garden, the cardoon. Is it a thistle or an artichoke? A little bit of both—and edible!

On a particularly lovely early morning, a couple from England pulled us aside and shared what they’ve been growing in their allotment garden across the pond. They were inspired by the fruits and vegetables they saw in the garden and wanted to share and compare notes about their own bounty at home.

“Have you ever made beetroot chutney?” they inquired. We looked at each other and shook our heads, but we wanted to know more. We had never heard of the recipe but were certainly intrigued by the sound of it. The couple explained that it was a savory dish consisting of sautéed beets, onions, herbs, and vinegar—lovely as a condiment or side dish. We were both inspired to call beets “beetroot” and make beetroot chutney after that conversation.

Herein lies one of the greatest gifts of our internship: we have been able to learn from experts, share knowledge with visitors, and get a lot of hands-on experience. We thought we might have a difficult time adjusting to the early morning hours and manual labor, but the joy we have experienced has definitely made it worthwhile. Our paths have crossed with so many interesting and amazing people—all in the name of fruits and vegetables.

Both of us are former educators who value the gifts of teaching and learning. Our previous classrooms had four walls that bound us to a specific space. We continue to teach and to learn. But our classroom looks a little different—no walls, open space, tons of possibilities—the Garden.

 Girls gather in the vegetables on a field trip to Fruit & Veg.

There is much knowledge to share about growing fruits and vegetables—for experienced pros and newcomers alike.

These experiences are not only for Windy City Harvest interns. Hop on your bike, take a walk, and plan a visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden or your local farm and talk to your gardener!

 

Lesley Grill
Rachel Schipull

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Interns Harvest More Than Veggies

Garden Blog - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 8:30am

A summer spent at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden is full of little joys and big surprises.

Interning at Windy City Harvest, we (Lesley and Rachel) started our time with grand plans to become farmers, urban agriculture pioneers, business owners, and horticulturists. We thought a summer at the parent organization—the Chicago Botanic Garden—learning about a vast collection of fruit and vegetable plant varieties would be a good way to jump-start our careers in the field.

But the weather and the Garden had a much different education for us in mind.

 Fruit and Veg interns Leslie and Rachel

Fruit & Vegetable interns Leslie and Rachel weeding the beds

The summer’s weather has been very cool and wet: this is not ideal for some of the fruiting crops that most people prize. Cucumbers and squash are everywhere and right on schedule, but the bright red, heavy tomatoes we love to harvest this time of year are taking a bit longer to ripen in the cooler weather. And yet, the cooler weather has brought visitors to the Garden in friendly droves. These visitors (avid gardeners, young children, families, and globetrotters) have encouraged us to keep the garden in good shape throughout the season, and shared their own sense of wonder about fruits and vegetables.

Although the Chicago Botanic Garden has a separate garden—the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden—dedicated to working with children, many families bring their children to visit the Fruit & Vegetable Garden while they are here because of the broad range of fruit and vegetables we have on display. They can also learn about bees or growing watermelons. They may even spot toads here and there, if they have a quick eye.

 Potato flower (Solanum tuberosum 'Kennebec')

Can you identify this gorgeous bloom? Its tubers are a staple food crop.

Both of us have enjoyed showing children how carrots and potatoes grow, since those plants, specifically, look very different when they are growing than when they are on a plate. Getting the chance to talk to children about food and farming has affirmed our commitment to the work that lies ahead. Sharing our knowledge about growing healthy, sustainable food is one of the most important skills that we can develop as future farmers.

One warm July day, a group of 7- and 8-year-olds walked into the garden, where we happened to be cultivating “the three sisters” (corn, beans, and squash). They stopped in their tracks, entranced by the long ears of corn. “Do you know where popcorn comes from?” Rachel asked. The curious kids looked at one another, shrugged, and all eyes turned to the apprentice farmer. She asked the children to look around and spot the plant that might be responsible for the delicious snack. Suddenly, it dawned on a few of them, and they jumped and pointed, “It’s the corn! It’s the corn!” The corn plants took on a new significance when we were able to put them into context.

 Popcorn cob

The discovery of how favorite foods grow brings delight in the garden.

The diversity of plant life in the Fruit & Vegetable Garden attracts some of the most inquisitive, passionate, and skilled gardeners from around the globe. Patrons are constantly asking us questions about plant varieties, weather patterns, soil amendments, and why our eggplants don’t look like their eggplants. They want to know what cardoons taste like, or where we sell the gigantic Zephyr squash.

 Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)

A highlight of the vast collection displayed at the Fruit & Vegetable Garden, the cardoon. Is it a thistle or an artichoke? A little bit of both—and edible!

On a particularly lovely early morning, a couple from England pulled us aside and shared what they’ve been growing in their allotment garden across the pond. They were inspired by the fruits and vegetables they saw in the garden and wanted to share and compare notes about their own bounty at home.

“Have you ever made beetroot chutney?” they inquired. We looked at each other and shook our heads, but we wanted to know more. We had never heard of the recipe but were certainly intrigued by the sound of it. The couple explained that it was a savory dish consisting of sautéed beets, onions, herbs, and vinegar—lovely as a condiment or side dish. We were both inspired to call beets “beetroot” and make beetroot chutney after that conversation.

Herein lies one of the greatest gifts of our internship: we have been able to learn from experts, share knowledge with visitors, and get a lot of hands-on experience. We thought we might have a difficult time adjusting to the early morning hours and manual labor, but the joy we have experienced has definitely made it worthwhile. Our paths have crossed with so many interesting and amazing people—all in the name of fruits and vegetables.

Both of us are former educators who value the gifts of teaching and learning. Our previous classrooms had four walls that bound us to a specific space. We continue to teach and to learn. But our classroom looks a little different—no walls, open space, tons of possibilities—the Garden.

 Girls gather in the vegetables on a field trip to Fruit & Veg.

There is much knowledge to share about growing fruits and vegetables—for experienced pros and newcomers alike.

These experiences are not only for Windy City Harvest interns. Hop on your bike, take a walk, and plan a visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden or your local farm and talk to your gardener!

 

Lesley Grill
Rachel Schipull

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