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Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall Views

Here are just some great fall pictures I couldn't help but share as this hurricane is going to make the fall foliage quickly disappear.  These shots were taken during our recent conservation easement monitoring. 

As an accredited land trust TLC must monitor all conservation easements once a year to make sure that the landowners are in compliance with their easements.  This usually ends up being a great day to get outside and see what great things our landowners are doing on their properties. 

If you are a landowner who is considering permanently protecting your land, we hope you'll consider TLC for your conservation easement options.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wood ducks...

I know I go on about them all the time, but wood ducks are among my favorite birds because I can readily identify them by flight, sight, and sound (which is a fairly large feat for me) sometimes I can do one or two out of three, but usually not all three, and I just think they are great birds.

They are fly off fairly quickly, and I was not able to get a great picture, but I have started to see wood ducks all around the Red Clay, and found a great flock while we were out monitoring conservation easements the other day.  This is a photo of the birds in flight--you'll just have to trust me that they are wood ducks.  I'll get a good picture at some point this fall and post it for everyone to see!

A great winter project to consider is building wood duck nesting boxes for placement in late February to early March.   If you are in need of nesting box plans, contact The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County or your local wildlife officer

Friday, October 26, 2012

Admiring the view

We have had some Ameri Corps volunteers with us over the last week and they will be returning for the week of October 29-November 2.  This group has been instrumental in helping us to create trails on our newest preserve that is not yet open: Auburn Heights II.  The Ameri Corps volunteers are stationed out of MD, and work together as a team for 10 months completing over 1700 hours of community service at different organizations throughout the east coast.  There are five home bases for Ameri Corps throughout the country each focuses on a different region in throughout the U.S.  Our team is known as Raven 4 and we are the last of their 10 month volunteer projects.  They have been a great group to work with, and have certainly helped us to achieve our goals.  We will be posting pictures about the work that they have accomplished at Auburn Heights II so keep checking on our blog, facebook, and website.

If you are interested in learning how you can get involved with Ameri Corps, click HERE to link to their website. 

TLC thanks all of the volunteers that help them throughout the year from local high schools, the community, local businesses, and Ameri Corps!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Foliage is not always king

Witch HazelHamamelis virginiana (American witchhazel) is a great shrub that will add interest to your garden or landscape, especially if you reside on the north side of the hill, or have a very shady area on your property.  This shrub does best in full to partial shade and would rather be planted in moist areas.  At a time when we are all admiring the fall foliage on the east coast, this plant is blooming.  It has lost its leaves, or is on it's way to loosing its leaves and has beautiful yellow flowers.  This native plant is perfect for those of you looking for something else to spice up your landscaping as opposed to beautiful foliage or mums.  These are some pictures of H. virginiana that I found growing in the woods.

   For more tips on best native plants for fall landscaping be sure to schedule a Landscape Visionaries visit today or think about purchasing one as a gift this holiday season.  Click HERE for more information.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Great Fall Look

I came across this plant while recently hiking in a meadow. I always forget how much I like the look of Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana) in the fall.  

 The seed pods create unique interest in the fall months, and the showy white flowers are fabulous in the spring.  Not surprisingly there is an invasive vine that looks very similar. The difference is that the invasive vine has rounded lobes as opposed to the toothed leaves present in the Clematis.  In the right setting, this plant can form great privacy hedges, and attracts hummingbirds and bees. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Improve your habitat this fall

As the leaves start to fall from the trees---and I go back to distracted driving since now I can see all of the birds in the trees, and I know the second I do not look, I'm going to miss seeing the migrating Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, or some other fun species that is not common in our portion of SE PA---you should be starting to think about prepping your lawn/landscape for the winter months.

I recently weeded my flowers (for maybe about the fifth and last time this year) and it does not look overgrown, I promise!! I did not cut the seed heads off any of my plants, except a few of my Vernonia sp.  (Ironweed) because we were painting the shutters of our house, and otherwise the plant would have ended up blowing into my paint.  However, I leave almost all of the seed heads as an additional source of food for our overwintering bird residents, and cover for any small mammals who might stop by for a visit.  You should be about done with separating the plants in your garden because at least where I am the first heavy frost should be right around the corner.  It is not advisable to plant any small plug this far into the fall as they could heave during an early and deep frost.  I would recommend waiting until spring at this point, but if you are really desperate to plant some last plugs before winter, make sure you check them on a fairly regular basis.  It is still a good time to plant trees and shrubs, in fact with all of the recent rain that we have had, this is among the most preferable time to plant trees.  If you have bird feeders, this is a great time to fill them to catch some of the fall migrants.  You should also make sure to keep out your hummingbird feeder as the little guys are still coming through on their way south and you may still be lucky enough to spot a vagrant hummingbird.

This is a good time of the year to cut the pesky and invasive bittersweet vine (and you can use it for fall decorations). Martha Stewart has plenty of ideas!! Cutting bittersweet when it is yellow typically limits the amount of re-sprouts that will occur. CLICK HERE to view my past post for full information about bittersweet control.  This is also a good time to spray your thistle one more time to have the most impact on the roots. CLICK HERE to view more information about thistle control.

Of course fall shouldn't all be about work! Make sure you take time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful days and fall color while it lasts! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Great find in a nearby meadow!

I was walking through a nearby meadow and came across this plant which is starting to exhibit it's fall glory.  Ilex verticillata or Winterberry Holly is a wonderful native shrub that looses its leaves in the winter--shocking I know for those of you who think of a "holly" as being evergreen.  The great thing about this plant is the loosing of the leaves makes it all the more showy throughout the winter--at least until all of the wildlife comes to visit and helps to remove the berries.  In order to ensure that you will have the beautiful berries on your winterberry holly, it is advisable to plant one male to every three females that you purchase--most native plant nurseries should be able to help you identify the male and female plants!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paulownia tomentosa

Paulownia tomentosa (Empress Tree) is a non-native invasive tree that grows rapidly.  The tree has HUGE leaves and can spread through either root sprouts or seed.  A root sprout can grow 15' in one season.  In the spring this tree will have pale violet fragrant flowers.  
Princess Tree 
This photo depicts the Paulownia tree and the very recognizable leaves and fruit.  In my experience, this tree can be easily controlled by using a battery operated drill and drilling a hole into the trunk of the tree.  The hole is then filled with a non-dilute solution of glyphosate like Round-Up.  The size and amount of holes that you drill into the tree depend on the size of the tree.  I typically will use a 1/2" drill bit, and then drill multiple holes depending on the size of the tree.  This slowly kills the tree and eliminates the root sprouts from forming.
 Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) looks similar to the Paulownia tree but is a native tree.  Both the bark and the leaf are very similar, the main differences are in the color of the flower--pale white as opposed to violet, the seed pods are long and bean-shaped and the lower leaves are not noticibly hairy like they are on the Paulownia. The Catalpa is pictured here with the white flowers. This tree has been known to grow rapidly and is fairly adaptable, but it is not invasive like the Paulownia.  Make sure you can correctly identify the tree you are attempting to remove to make sure that you are removing the correct tree.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who might be stopping by this winter

As fall migration waxes on, keep your eyes out for this fellow who might be coming to spend the winter in your back yard--he's been spotted many times throughout the last few weeks and its a great bird to add to your life list. Pine siskins are small songbirds who travel in large flocks.  They migrate towards nyjer seed feeders and are fairly advantageous when it comes to finding food.  They have sharp pointed bills and sharp notched tails.  Pine Siskins are very vocal birds and commonly utter a harsh, rising call: zzzrrreeeee? Also a variety of thin, high twitters, often in paired notes: twee-twee, jee-jee, twee-twee!

 Keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for this little guy this winter!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fall is definitely here

The leaves are slowly starting to change colors and for the most part everyone's garden is waning in color.  If you are looking at your garden and contemplating buying some mums to get that fall color--I've got some other options for you.  Asters are my favorite among fall flowers and right now, they are hitting the main stream pretty rapidly--I even saw some for sale at Giant the other day.   

However today, I'm going to talk about a much underused but great fall shrub:  the native American Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). This shrub gives you 3-4 full seasons of interest (mostly dependent on how many birds you have over wintering and munching on the berries)

In the spring you'll be treated to snow white blooms radiating in a pinwheel-like fashion around an inner circle of a tiny fuzz of cream, not unlike the lacecap form of the fabled bigleaf hydrangea flowers that northerners can only dream about. These are followed by bright cherry-red berries in large clusters that last from August through the winter and into the new year. In fall, let's deliver some of the finest fiery red and rich royal purple coloration available on any plant, starting early and usually lasting for weeks. 
Highbush cranberries are native to most of the northern woods, and prefer to grow in moist, organic soils with a little shade. However, they actually look totally different in a landscape setting as compared to their growth in the wild, and it's when they get adequate sun and good moisture without being crowded that they really earn their keep. They require virtually no maintenance and are relatively trouble-free.

This plant is useful in so many common landscape applications; as a stunning background shrub in the garden, as a solitary accent in the lawn, in foundation plantings, in masses in parks, or as a tall privacy screen or unpruned hedge. 

It's still a good time to plant those shrubs before winter sets in, so maybe head on over to your favorite native plant nursery this weekend for some fall planting projects.  If you need suggestions, I've got a list!

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