Sure, it snowed just three days into spring—it’s Chicago! This week we’re set to hit the magic temperature, 45 degrees, and here’s what it will trigger in your garden.
©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org
This is my second CLM internship. Last year I worked in Vale, Oregon, and this year I have been given the opportunity to work with Carol Dawson at the Colorado State BLM office. I’m so glad and thankful to be here. I’m really looking forward to my work, and love living in Colorado. This year I will do some Seeds of Success collections, but most of my work will entail rare plant monitoring. So this month I have been familiarizing myself with several of the rare species we will be monitoring over the summer. I’ve become most familiar with a few Penstemon species, P. grahamii, P. scariosus var. albifluvis, P. gibbsenii, and P. debilis.
The BLM has been monitoring P. grahamii yearly since 2005, excluding 2006-2008 and 2013, using a permanent macroplot and restricted random sampling method. Last year the study population had been decimated, with only 16 individuals remaining, as compared to 148 in 2012. The severe decline is presumed to be from a herd of sheep mistakenly allowed to graze in the area. This year we will return to the location in order to evaluate whether or not continued monitoring is possible. Most likely, a new, larger population will need to be located and a new study site set up. The other CLM intern here, Nathan, has been working on new population locations for us to consider. P. grahamii is one of the species for which I have been preparing a status report.
A photo of P. grahamii I found online-I’m hoping to see it in flower this season, but is unlikely
The other species for which I’ve been preparing a status report is Penstemon scariosus var. albifluvis. This species shares a very similar habitat to P. grahamii. Both are endemic to the oil shale barrens of the geologic Green River Formation in the Uinta Basin, and face the threat of oil and gas exploration. The CO BLM has yet to initiate any demographic monitoring study for this species. We plan on implementing such a study this summer.
P. gibbensii and P. debilis are two more rare Colorado species and congeners of P. grahamii and P. scariosus var. albifluvis. There is extremely limited genetic information about P. grahamii and P. scariosus var. albifluvis, so I’ve been reading through the available information on P. gibbensii and P. debilis in order to gain a better understanding of their genetic structure, which may shed light on the possible genetic structures of P. grahamii and P. scariosus var. albifluvis.
A photo of P. scariosus var. albifluvis I found online-I’m looking forward to posting my own pictures soon.
I have also been brushing up on my statistic skills. I won’t really be analyzing any data until after the field season, but I’ve been making some box plots and normal probability plots with the data from previous years of Penstemon grahamii monitoring. This allows me to see if the collected data follows a normal distribution, and thus how accurate statistical estimates are.
Sorry this is such a boring post. Until next time!
As the first day of summer approaches, the Krasberg Rose Garden begins a show of flowers like none other.
More than 5,000 roses begin to unfurl countless buds in myriad colors that gradually fill the air with delicate, sweet scents. Dedicated in 1985, the Rose Garden is home to 200 varieties of roses that include old garden roses (also called antique or heirloom roses), hybrid tea roses, floribundas, miniatures, grandifloras, climbers, shrubs, and several other types.
A focal point among the roses is an impressive fountain designed in the shape of a Tudor rose (see lore, below). Amble along the curving path through the three-acre garden and you’ll discover some of the more than 34,000 other plants—trees, shrubs, and perennials—that enhance the Rose Garden’s overall design. Nearby (technically outside the parameters of the Rose Garden) is the History of Roses Bed, boasting a rose collection that spans antique varieties, from the earliest wild rose to modern hybrids. Newer All-America Rose Selections winners are also on display.
“I hope visitors view the garden for the aesthetic experience it is—the way it looks and smells,” said Tom Soulsby, the senior horticulturist who oversees the Rose Garden. “There’s probably a rose for everybody and every place.”
Besides their incredible beauty and an abundance of blossoms, many of the roses on display were chosen for their hardiness, disease and insect resistance, long period of bloom, and low maintenance requirements. “There’s not a lot to fear when it comes to growing roses,” said Soulsby. He aims to educate gardeners and demystify rose care.
Rose maintenance—pruning, removing spent blooms, mulching, and monitoring for disease and insects—is a collaboration among Soulsby, other garden staff, and volunteers. “We take the most environmentally friendly means of dealing with insects and disease, and sometimes that means doing nothing,” Soulsby said. “One of our objectives is to minimize the use of chemicals. The volunteers are trained to look for things that might need to be addressed. Sometimes it involves handpicking Japanese beetles to get rid of them or handpicking leaves with black spot if the problem is small. If fungus is prevalent, we’re careful about sanitizing our tools with disinfectants so it doesn’t spread from one plant to another.”
The roses receive a water-soluble fertilizer in summer, which is important because each plant spends a lot of energy creating blooms. Deadheading—removing the spent flowers—is also done during summer. “That encourages roses to repeat bloom. If you don’t deadhead them, they form hips,” Soulsby said. Hips are the rose fruits that contain seeds and they may be shades of red, orange, purple, or black. The colorful hips provide winter interest and are often enjoyed by wildlife.
Most of the roses are pruned after Thanksgiving, and the crowns of the plants are covered with 2 to 3 feet of composted horse manure (preferred over Styrofoam rose cones) for winter protection. The compost is removed in spring and used as mulch. “It’s a great soil amendment and we spread as much as we can,” Soulsby said.
Although their fragrance is sometimes indescribable, many roses, especially old garden varieties grown before 1867, fill the air on warm summer mornings with a variety of scents.
Pop your nose into a rose blossom and you may discover a hint of cloves, anise, citrus, honey, or pears. Or, perhaps one flower reminds you of apricots, while another exudes a trace of lemon. When the tea roses are blooming, you might detect a trace of sweet orange pekoe tea in the air. Like fine wines, roses often feature a fascinating, complex collection of sweet smells.
Rose breeder William Radler is a consulting rosarian for the Krasberg Rose Garden. He developed the wildly popular KnockOut® series of shrub roses, which are also on display. “Will has been breeding roses for our area, along with other breeders, for a long time,” said Soulsby. The rosarian meets annually with Soulsby and other Garden staff to review the rose collection. This year, Radler will receive the 2015 Hutchinson Medal, which recognizes “outstanding leadership or professional accomplishment that has been significant in furthering horticulture, plant science, or conservation.”
Some of the roses have celebrated a 30-year reign since the Rose Garden opened, but others have been replaced over the years. “We constantly evaluate the rose garden; a plant may not perform to its full potential here. However, the need to change out roses is pretty minimal overall,” Soulsby said.
Although it’s difficult for him to name favorites, the Mr. Lincoln rose (Rosa ‘Mr. Lincoln’) tops Soulsby’s list. “I tend to favor hybrid tea roses,” he admitted. “There’s also ‘Olympiad’ and ‘Peace’ [see lore, below], but my favorites? It depends on the day.”
Soulsby calls June and September the “rock star” months for the Krasberg Rose Garden. “The best viewing time is around Father’s Day for the first flush of major blooms, and then again in mid-September through early October.” But there’s almost always something interesting to see. Flowering can begin as early as April, and there are even a few blooms in November. Come winter, according to Soulsby, there’s a lot of structural interest with the conifers and shrub roses silhouetted against—or accented with—fallen snow.
Long may the queen of flowers reign!
The Lore of the Roses
In ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Chloris (Roman counterpart: Flora) came upon the body of a lovely wood nymph one day, and asked other gods to help her change it into a flower. Aphrodite donated some of her beauty; the Three Graces bestowed qualities of brilliance, joy, and allure; and Dionysus provided fragrant nectar. When the nymph’s transformation into a flower was complete, Chloris proclaimed it the rose, queen of all flowers.
The rose was said to have bloomed without thorns in the Garden of Eden, but grew them after Adam and Eve were driven out of paradise as a reminder to man of his sinful nature. Inside and outside a religious sphere, roses have represented virginity and purity (white) and passion and martyrdom (red).
During the Middle Ages, the color of roses stood for different heraldic houses, such as the House of Lancaster (red) and the house of York (white), who fought in the War of the Roses (1455–85). At war’s end, after the houses were blended in marriage, a red-and-white striped Tudor rose became the national symbol of England and, eventually, its national flower.
The rose has long featured in literature, from Dante’s Inferno to the sonnets and plays of William Shakespeare, from William Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily to Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose, and many more.
Empress Josephine Bonaparte, wife of Napoleon, in the late eighteenth century sponsored the development of rose breeding at her gardens outside of Paris, where she reigned over more than 250 types of roses.
In World War II, while Americans grew victory gardens, the Peace rose (Rosa ‘Madame A. Meilland’) almost became a casualty when Nazis invaded the Lyon, France, home of breeder Francis Meilland. He smuggled the ivory-yellow hybrid tea rose out of Europe in 1940 to the protection of his business partner, Robert Pyle, of West Grove, Pennsylvania. Pyle continued its propagation, introducing the rose to the public at war’s end. The enduringly popular Peace rose is arguably the most popular in the world today.
This post was adapted from an article by Nina Koziol that appeared in the spring 2015 edition of Keep Growing, the member magazine of the Chicago Botanic Garden.
©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org
We spent three days in the Deep Creek area in mid-March with a 10 person Urban Conservation Corps crew, slashing and seeding unauthorized OHV trails. The area is a challenging one to work in becuase it’s open, relatively remote, and not regularly patrolled. Right now, we are focusing on “defensible” sites, where we can do work that won’t be moved or bypassed.
We’ve had several great volunteer events this month. In partnership with the Southern California Mountains Foundation, SBNF restoration staff hosted a work day for a local community college ecology class at our Lytle Creek nursery. Yesterday was our first yearly Green Thumbs volunteer day at the Mountaintop greenhouse, an event we host montly beginning in March.
I spent three (personal) days last week in the Newberry Mountians Wilderness, and am headed to the Orocopia Mountains as we speak. There’s a lot blooming out in the desert right now, such as the charasmatic desert five spot (Erelmanche rotundifoila) and dark red onion (Allium a great time to go botanizing!
Mountaintop Ranger District
San Bernardino National Forest
The Sierra Front District BLM botany team is now complete. Stevie, the final member of our team, and my roommate arrived last weekend. The six of us interns are now gearing up for a busy field season. Of course, in this first month we have all been busy completing various trainings. Much time has also been spent on processing herbarium specimens from previous years.
During the beginning of this past week, we all attended a grass identification course at the University of Nevada Reno. As part of the class, we dissected and examined under the microscope 49 different genera of Poaceae, as well as several genera in Juncaceae and Cyperaceae. I have done work with grass in the past but have never had such a comprehensive overview of the family. I’m sure the information I learned in this class will prove to be quite useful going forward.
Field activities over the past couple of weeks have revolved around post-fire restoration. As reported by Olivia and Maggie, we spent a good deal of time scouting for locations to plant Mountain Mahogany seedlings at the TRE fire site. We found a site with a bunch of charred Mahogany remnants and determined that it would be suitable for planting the seedlings. We were all excited for our first camping trip of the season and the trip did not disappoint. Just fewer than 300 seedlings were planted successfully and the crew was treated to some amazing views of the Sierra and Sweetwater ranges.
Today the six of us will depart for Boise for the Integrated Pest Management and Pesticide Application Training and Certification. This certification is valid across all government agencies and will likely be very valuable in future job hunting endeavors.
It has been three weeks since I left Colorado and moved to Carson City, Nevada. I hadn’t spent much time in Nevada or in the Tahoe area before. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first arrived here. As I drove westerly across Nevada on Highway 50 – the Loneliest Road in America – I kept thinking how I was going further into the desert and more into the unknown. The Great Basin Desert is unique and far from any desert that I’m familiar with. It is different than the red sandstone arches and pillars of southeastern Utah, the petrified forests and badlands of New Mexico, and the Saguaro deserts of southern Arizona. At first glance, one might think of the Great Basin Desert as a barren and desolate landscape, devoid of life and water. But, as I have pleasantly discovered, the farther you venture into the desert, the more life you find. Multiple species of sagebrush, salt brush, greasewood, grass, and herbaceous forbs are scattered across the landscape. In less than a month, I have gained a great respect for the Great Basin Desert and an appreciation for the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The time has flown by quickly. My days are packed full with learning and working. I have learned more about the Bureau of Land Management, the various land management practices and protocols, the pressing and archiving of herbarium specimens, as well as local geology and botany. This past week was busy. We spent the first portion of the week looking at grasses through microscopes and the second portion of the week planting seedlings.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we attended a Basic Grass Identification Class in Reno. Before attending this course, grass identification was a weakness of mine. In the past, I could readily classify grasses and grass-like plants to basic groups and families based on key characteristics (e.g., the two-ranked leaves of Poaceae [Grass Family], the usually triangular stem of Cyperaceae [Sedge Family]). But I had found it quite difficult to key grasses to genus and species. Grasses comprise a major component of the environment and can indicate the health and status of an ecosystem. Therefore, it is vital to understand how to identify grasses. The class involved identifying over 45 species of Poaceae and several species of Juncaceae and Cyperaceae. We learned how to identify grasses and grass-like plants based on floret structures (i.e., presence versus absence of awns, bearded versus non-bearded calluses, number of florets within a spikelet, etc.). We applied our knowledge to dichotomous keys and were able to determine the genera and, most of the time, species. The course has provided me with more confidence as a biologist and botany intern. I can use my knowledge to determine the presence or absence of certain native grass species, which could influence the collection or planting of native grass seeds.
Thursday and Friday involved the planting of Mountain Mahogany seedlings. On May 22, 2012, flames from a fire in a residence’s backyard were released into the foothills of the southern Pine Mountains. The escaped embers resulted in the TRE Fire – a fire that burned for five consecutive days and burned more than 7,000 acres. A majority of the fire encompassed BLM land. Native perennial plant species were burned in the fire, including Single-leaf Piñon (Pinus monophylla), Western Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis), Desert Peach (Prunus andersonii), and Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius). Our job this past week was to plant about 300 Mountain Mahogany seedlings in a portion of the burn area where the tree used to thrive. The seedlings were grown from seeds collected by previous Seeds of Success Interns. It took two days, an overnight camping trip, and six interns to complete the planting. The beautiful weather, positive attitudes, and laughter made the planting gratifying! The project contained no impasses and was relatively smooth. When I was in the midst of planting some of the seedlings, I looked around at my fellow comrades and smiled from delight and zeal. Not only were we having a good time, but we were also restoring a species to a recently disturbed area. We were making a difference in the world of ecology and our work was important. I was encouraged to see how the collection of seeds can be used to restore and ameliorate an ecosystem. This project is a great story for the Seeds of Success program and emphasizes the importance of collecting seeds for future restoration efforts.
My seasonal allergies are beginning. Sneezing, runny nose, and swollen, itchy eyes – it must be spring! The leaves on trees are budding, rosettes are appearing more and more, and flowers are beginning to bloom. I’m immensely looking forward to more days out in the field, surveying plant species and collecting seeds.
It has been an interesting few weeks here at the Cosumnes River Preserve, a wonderful 50,000 acre conservation partnership in California’s Central Valley. I began working here in the Federal Pathways Program in 2011 and thought my time here was ending when I graduated in January. As I was wrapping up my projects and prepping my resume, a co-worker and former CLM intern informed the staff that he was leaving to take a new position in his home state of Iowa. This as it turned out was very fortunate timing for me (though I will miss working with him, great person and great employee) as I was able to take over his position as the Project Manager of a giant garter snake restoration project that is scheduled to begin in late summer of 2015.
After graduation I had the month of February off and used that time to do some travelling. My wife and I went to Park City, Utah for a week, then did some backpacking in the beautiful Desolation Wilderness, and finished with a trip to the Big Island in Hawaii. Needless to say there was a brief struggle in returning to work, but I have jumped in head first and am moving forward with the Badger Creek Restoration Project here at the Preserve.
Though it has only been a few weeks, I am already getting some excellent (and not so excellent) introductions to the wonderful world of state and federal permitting. I have written a few NEPA documents in the past, mostly for small projects/actions here at the Preserve, but this new project is a significant step up in complexity. I am currently working on wrapping up a joint NEPA/CEQA document that will cover both the state and federal requirements necessary to obtain proper permits and complete the project. This should be finished in the next few days (the previous CLMer had already completed a good portion of the document) and we will begin the review process. I will have much more to discuss in the coming weeks regarding the process but I thought I might end with a brief description about what we are doing at Badger Creek (I just realized that this post may end up looking like a Tarantino movie by the time it is over, introduction last?).
The Badger creek restoration project involves two separate but connected parcels of preserve lands that will be restored to provide habitat for the federal and state listed threatened giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas). The western parcel, known as Horseshoe Lake, is infested with yellow water primrose which will treated and/or mechanically removed to restore open-water foraging habitat. The eastern parcel, the Bjelland Unit, currently exists as ag land with a channelized portion of Badger Creek running along the southern property boundary. This parcel is going to be recontoured to create wetland and upland habitat which connects to the Horseshoe Lake Unit. The final product will be an additional 1.5 miles of restored habitat, and restored connectivity to the existing Badger Creek population of giant garter snakes. I am very excited to be working on this project and will check back in soon with an update.
Greetings from Arcata, CA and the Humboldt County sand dunes! I have just wrapped up my first week as a foredune conservation/rangeland monitoring intern under Jennifer Wheeler at the Bureau of Land Management, and what a week it was. In seven days I had my first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge as my plane landed from Canada, my first drive up the famous California coastline, my first chance to botanize in a sand dune ecosystem (Yes, I made botany a verb), and my first time judging an elementary school science fair. It couldn’t have been more fun!
The BLM of Arcata is responsible for the conservation and management of more than 200,000 acres of land in Northern California, including the unique dune system that makes up the coastline of Humboldt County. I jumped right in to this sandbox after a bit of bureaucratic orientation and spent everyday at a new monitoring site, learning the flora and performing transect monitoring. Though European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) and Ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) are a continuous menace to the native species, the level of restoration that the BLM, in concert with their partners, has managed to achieve is a bright beacon of hope in the sometimes dark world of ecosystem conservation. I was thrilled to see the amount of diversity (over thirty species in one transect!), curious to see the effect of the competition between the natives and the invasives, and enamored with the two special status endemic plants, the Humboldt County wallflower (Erysimum menziesii ssp. eurekense) and beach layia (Layia carnosa). These charismatic little guys are a conservation priority and their persistence in this damaged and ever changing system is in large part due to the ongoing restoration efforts of the BLM.
While I could have happily spent the entire week on the beach, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a judge for the local science fair. Over 130 students from fourth grade through high school participated, with the winners advancing to county and state fairs. The curiosity and ingenuity displayed by the students was a colourful and fun reminder of why we all got into science. Who hasn’t wondered which type of fruit will fly the furthest?! A sense of wonder, anticipation of the unexpected, the thrill of a discovery. These are the simple things that we must nurture to form our future scientists and they’re the things that the most fortunate of us retain through our entire career. I for one plan to approach my entire summer with this mentality!
Greetings from the land where there is still snow! Fairbanks is still covered with the white stuff so botanizing and wildlife-ing will have to wait until the green emerges. Temperatures had been on an upward trend but a week of -30 harshly reminded us what Mother Nature is capable of.
We are gearing up for a busy and exciting field season. In addition to the projects I mentioned in my last post (raptor surveys, bat monitoring, invasive species reconnaissance) I will also be planning and teaching some Invasive Plant Species Identification classes—should be a good chance to practice my public speaking and presentation skills, not to mention wax poetic about botany.
As of late I have mostly been researching, researching, researching for our little brown bat project (Myotis lucifungus). I am used to monitoring things that don’t move (or don’t move fast) i.e. plants so these batty guys are new to me. I’ve been reading a lot about bats, wildlife monitoring study design, echolocation, occupancy modeling etc. and chatting with many bat experts. Hopefully all this information will be put to good use this summer.
There are a few opportunities for field work before “break-up” and one of those is moose surveys. This Friday I will be taking off to go to Bettles, AK for the week. There we will be flying transects over Gates of the Arctic National Park looking for moose. The survey uses what is called the Geospatial Population Estimator (GSPE) method. Basically, GSPE uses spatial correlation in moose populations to increase precision and flexibility in survey methods. A certain number of sample grids from a study area are selected and transects are flown over them. The spatial correlation among these samples is calculated and this relationship is modeled as a function of distance. This model can them be used to predict moose densities in un-sampled areas.
Usually, less intensive stratification flights are done before the actual survey to identify areas of high and low moose density. More survey effort is then dedicated to the high moose density stratum.
Here is a dizzying depiction of contour transects flown in mountainous terrain.
In other news, snow in Fairbanks allowed for two delightful winter activities these past weeks. First, a lovely ski trip to Tolovana Hot Springs with Anchorage friends including CLM counterpart Charlotte and former CLM counterpart Bonnie! And secondly, the IDITAROD! Moved to Fairbanks for only the second time in history due to lack of snow in Anchorage. A few choice pictures of both below.
Mario Buatta is known as “The Prince of Chintz,” but a minute on the phone with the legendary interior designer tells you an off-the-wall sense of humor is also part of his trademark: “Decorating is only decorating. It’s not brain surgery.”
The 80-year-old can afford to be self-deprecating. One of his latest projects—transforming the rooms of an 1850 South Carolina mansion for New York socialite Patricia Altschul—was featured in the October 2014 Architectural Digest. In 2013, he published his first book, Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration.
We’re honored to have Mr. Buatta as keynote speaker for our spring kickoff, the Antiques, Garden & Design Show, taking place April 17–19, 2015. Buatta’s appearance at the Garden is more fitting than you might realize. The storied New Yorker, whose client list includes Barbara Walters and Mariah Carey, has a great affinity for gardens. His trademark chintzes are bursting with flowers, and he weaves nature into the narrative of his work. He says, “No house is ever complete. It grows with you—just like a garden.”
Buatta may love a nosegay, particularly one printed on cotton and finished with glaze, but he is definitely no shrinking violet. Ask his take on current decorating trends and you’ll hear: “I see a lot of bad trends. Younger people want everything done overnight. Instant gratification. Everything simple, easy to take care of. No silver. No brown wood. No antiques. No old pieces.”
The result is a cold, unwelcoming home, in Buatta’s opinion. He says, “The things that make a house a home are the things with a family connection.” He’s been drawn to antiques since childhood, purchasing his first piece at age 11—an eighteenth-century lap desk acquired with $12 in saved allowance. “Antiques spoke to me, because they reminded me of the old days that don’t exist any more.”
A home needs connection to family and the past, but it also needs color. No white walls, or chrome, steel, and glass desert for Buatta: “I couldn’t live in a house without lots of color. Color is a like a garden. It brings a house to life.”
Hours in museums as a youth, looking at the works of Matisse, Bonnard, and other impressionists, taught Buatta a great deal. A professor at his alma mater, Parsons The New School for Design, put it this way, “If you don’t understand the colors these artists use on their canvases you will never be a good decorator.”
Some of Buatta’s favorites include apricot, chartreuse, blood red, and nature’s colors, such as sky blue and green. He’s also crazy for blue and white with yellow. His own living room is three shades of pistachio green, and his bedroom is eggplant. “You should always have a touch of red in a room. It gives it life. A touch of black pulls in all colors. It says quality. It’s very important not to repeat colors in two rooms so your house is a palette. You really want to set the mood for the time of day you use the room.”
In our brief conversation, snatched between urgent phone calls, Buatta displayed mastery, humility, showmanship, and outrageous humor. He quips, “I’ve been a celebrity since I was born.” His upcoming lecture, “If You Can’t Hide It, Decorate It,” promises to be anything but dull.
©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org