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Monday, April 29, 2013

April Showers bring....

May flowers....well today is the second day of rain we've had in the month of April?? The flowers are blooming, but slowly! This was seen at Stateline Woods Preserve. 

Arisaema triphyllum  or Jack in the Pulpit is a fairly common woodland flower (though some may not think it is actually a flower).  This plant is a useful, and low maintenance woodland plant that is a great addition to a shaded or woodland garden.  It prefers moist soils, but I rescued some from a mower a few years back and planted it in my very dry woodland. It is doing fairly well, though maybe not spreading as much as it would in a different setting.  I'll be posting more plants as we find them on our travels!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Planting day at the New Leaf Eco Center

On April 17th TLC had a staff planting day at our New Leaf Eco Center to beautify the preserve and help complete the bioswales project.
We planted several native tree species in the bioswales planting beds including Elderberry (Sambucus sp.), Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), American Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), and Which Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).

 Gwen's dog, Purdy even came out to lend a helping paw, well more so just to watch.

We also added more wood chips to the bioswales to level them up and provide a flat surface for storm water runoff to enter.

We planted White Pine (Pinus strobus) by the apiary to act as a wind break, protecting the hives from the bitter cold during the winter months. 

We planted Rudbeckia and Phlox, which are both native perennial flowers, in front of the kiosk.

We aslo planted Basswood (Tilia americana) and Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) along the road side by the kiosk. The edible garden received some attention as well, getting some Persimmon and Red Raspberry (Rubus) planted

On April 19 a group of Girl Scouts helped plant White Oak (Quercus alba) for Earth Day along the forrest edge just south west of the shed.

Thanks to everyone who came out to help make the New Leaf Eco Center a better place! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Wildflower Trips

Botanist, Karen Travers led  a group from TLC on our own private tour of the spring wildflowers in Mt. Cuba’s woodlands today.  Participants viewed common native wildflowers like may apple, trout lilies, Quaker ladies, woodland poppies, phlox, blue bells and more and learned how to incorporate natives into our own landscaping for attracting wild life and eradicating those pesky invasives.

Phlox stolonifera

Group at Mt. Cuba Center

We also saw the trillium garden and the experimental beds.  The tadpoles are busy in the pond and a toddler snapping turtle visited too.  Mt. Cuba is beautiful any time of year but spring is truly amazing as the earth throws off the blanket of winter and emerges gracefully into vibrance. Mt. Cuba is now open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays until November from 10- 4 pm.  Knowledgeable staff are on hand to help with plant identification or any other questions you have about the grounds and gardens.  There are places tucked in the garden to sit and relax as well as a picnic area for the family.  Mt. Cuba also has  a great native plant finder at 

The Land Conservancy will be holding a Wildflower Walk with botanist, Janet Ebert, on Sunday April 28th from 9am-12pm at our Bucktoe Creek Preserve; 432 Sharp Road, Avondale, PA 19311. CLICK HERE to register! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Living History

Chester County itself stands as a historical area fortunately located between the Philadelphia, Harrisburg and the Delaware State regions, all of which played a monumental role in shaping the foundations of Pennsylvania and our country as a whole. Along the south eastern border of Chester County is TLC's sister-preserve, Bucktoe Creek Preserve, which holds several historic sites that are part of the proposed Red Clay Creek Historic District, currently being prepared for nomination for the National Register of Historic Places. The West Branch of the Red Clay Creek Historic District follows the West Branch of the Red Clay Creek south from its source in East Marlborough Township to the Delaware State line.

Jane Dorchester, Architectural Historian, led a group of eight through the historic sites of Bucktoe Creek Preserve, which included the ruins of the Bucktoe Cemetery, J. Freeman ruins, Chandler Mill Bridge, Gregg House, and Deacon house ruins.

The Bucktoe Cemetery is located along Bucktoe Road and is open for public visitation during the day. The New Garden UAME, once located on site, moved to Linden Street in Kennett Square during the 1940s. The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, New Garden UAME Church, Bucktoe Creek Preserve, and Eugene Hough of Heritage Guild Works are working together in the ongoing process of restoring and discovering the Bucktoe Cemetery. Schools, students, and community members have volunteered their time throughout the pass three years helping with clean ups, ground penetrating radar techniques used to find unknown graves, and further restoration projects. The next volunteer date is Saturday April 20th from 1:00pm - 4:00pm. Contact to RSVP!

Group at the Bucktoe Cemetery
The Rev. Wiggins House ruin is located across the stream and uphill (NE) of the cemetery. This is where members of the church would have resided. Looking at the structure, Jane has determined it was a two-story house that had an addition built, which can be seen in the picture below. Located to the SE of this structure lies the Freeman and Gregg House ruins, so there is evidence of a whole community on the hillside. 

Group admiring the Rev. Wiggins House Ruins
The Chandler Mill Bridge, placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 2010, is located at the SE end of the Bucktoe Creek Preserve and connects Bucktoe and Chandler Mill Road. For the past two years the bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic, but is heavily traveled by bikers, walkers and runners. Jane spoked about the historical significance of the 103-year old, one-lane bridge and the impact it once had, and will continue have if preserved, to the community of Southern Chester County. To learn more about the Chandler Mill Bridge, visit our website

On Sunday, members of the Mississippi River Water Walkers gathered on the Chandler Mill Bridge to conduct a ceremonial blessing of the waters of the West Branch of the Red Clay Creek. Visit their facebook page to learn more about their mission: CLICK HERE

Group Gathering on the Chandler Mill Bridge

Mississippi River Water Walkers Conducting Blessing

Sunday, April 14, 2013

That pesky Yellow flower...

So after our volunteer day today, I headed out to Hamorton Woods Homeowners Association to lead a invasive species/trail maintenance clinic as a portion of a Landscape Visionaries session and I noticed my "nemesis" in early spring everywhere that I looked, so I thought I would take the time to let everyone know about that yellow flower that seems to invade the banks of the Brandywine (and every other stream, creek, and river in the tri-state area): Ranunculus ficaria (lesser celandine).  This is the blog post that I shared last year and I believe it is important to share it again.

Ranunculus ficaria is a small low growing plant with a very impressive underground network of bulbets and tubers that can continue to flourish if separated from the main plant.  The flower is typically bright yellow and the leaves are a deep green. 

The leaf of celandine, which is the only part of the plant that is currently showing, looks VERY similar to the leaf of a violet.  Note in the photograph the violet is on the left and the celandine is on the right.  Violet's tend to have more rounded lobes, and the celandine is sharper with points.  Typically the celandine has a glossier look than the violet.  You should be sure that you can differentiate between the two before you pull out leaves that belong to violets.   Once they bloom, they are easier to differentiate, but not all violets are purple or white, there are yellow violets native to our area.  Also, once the blooming has begun, it is typically more difficult to remove all of the tubers from the ground.

 When you pull out the celandine be sure to remove all of the tubers and bulbets that are attached to the plant.   You can actually assist in the spreading of the plant by leaving them behind.  I will lay the plant on a rock where it has little chance of re-sprouting in the ground.  You can also control celandine by spraying a glyphosate based herbicide at a low concentration.   Glyphosate is non-selective so it should be used with care since you may harm some of the spring ephemerals in the process.  If the area is very sensitive, I would recommend individually painting each celandine leaf.  This may be time consuming, but it is a great way to be very selective and to inhibit any further spread. Typically manual control is recommended for very small infestations and you will have to resort to chemical to obtain complete control when you are dealing with the "blanket" effect as in the earlier photograph.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring has FINALLY arrived...

So I realize as I write this, it's abnormally chilly and rainy once again, but in general, it feels like spring has arrived, so early next week I'll start talking about all of the great plants that I have spotted blooming (and some of the not so great ones!)  Along with all of the wonderful spring flowers (and rain) comes the busiest time in the world of conservation.  I thought I'd share some of the places that TLC is going to be this weekend in case you are looking for something to do in and around southern Chester County.

Saturday, April 13
Living History Hike at Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Road, Avondale, PA 19311
Traverse the historic sites surrounding the Chandler Mill Bridge and Bucktoe Cemetery with architectural historian Jane Dorchester.

Dig Into Spring at terrain
914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills PA
Attend the annual Dig into Spring celebration and an afternoon of seasonal crafts, fresh ideas for outdoor living, treats from the café, and kid's activities. We'll be manning a booth, so stop in and visit!
Sunday, April 14, 2013 
Race #1 in the Trail Creek Outfitters Trail Race Series at the Brandywine Valley Association. 
1760 Wawaset Rd  West Chester, PA 19382
Race begins at 8:30. Day of registration available--Run this race, then come back for The Stateline Loop 9K Trail Race for Conservation which is #2 in the series! Great T-shirts will be awarded to the runners who run in all four RACES!

Register online for the 9K:
Register online for the 5K:  

Volunteer Day at Stateline Woods Preserve
814 Merrybell Lane, Kennett Square PA 19348
Help us pot trees for our native plant nursery and do some general maintenance around the preserve.   

River Walkers Along the Red Clay Creek

Meet at 3:00PM at Chandler Mill Bridge 
Intersection of Bucktoe Road and Chandler Mill Road

On Sunday April 14th at 3:00pm, folks involved in the Mississippi River Water Walk 2013 are coming out to the Chandler Mill Bridge at the West Branch of the Red Clay Creek Corridor to conduct a blessing of the Waters Ceremony. 

This will be a nice way to bring positive spirits to the issues surrounding the Chandler Mill Bridge.

CLICK HERE to see the River Walkers journey. Please feel free to walk over and join us. Light refreshments will be provided.  

As you can see--we are going to be all over town this weekend! Hope you'll join us! Stay tuned for some of the things that are blooming that we spot while we are out and about!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Check Out TLC for the Bees HERE

In an attempt to streamline our online resources, TLC will be combining this blog with our TLC FOR BEES blog written by our apiarist, Dan Borkoski.  As we merge the two blogs, and gear up for our 2013 Open Hive Days, I will post old content from TLC FOR BEES blog onto this blog--there is still time to check out all of the wonderful and informative beekeeping posts written by Dan HERE

 Written March 28, 2013:

One hive down...

After almost two full years of enjoying our healthy hives at TLC's demonstration beeyard, we finally lost one one of them this winter.  Winter losses are all too common for beekeepers these days (average winter losses are somewhere the in the neighborhood of 30%), and there are a number of reasons a hive might not make it through this trying season of the year.

Without leaving sufficient stores on the hive (I'd say at least 50 lbs. of honey), a colony could easily starve over the winter months.  In our parts, beekeepers usually harvest in the summer, trying to leave enough honey for the bees to get through the summer dearth.  We then usually experience a modest nectar flow in the fall, and the beekeeper may or may not do some supplemental feeding at that time to get the hive up to weight.

Also, if there are problems with the queen in late summer or fall, there might be a low population going into the winter, so that they have a hard time forming a sufficient cluster to stay warm and move to where the stores are in the hive.  Bees don't exactly die from the cold, but if there is inadequate ventilation in the hive, it can become damp.  Cold and wet bees is definitely a deadly combination.  Add to the equation stresses from parasitic Varroa mites and their associated viral diseases, and the cluster of bees could already be dwindling throughout the winter due to a really high attrition rate.

The hive we lost was "Hive A", which was previously a superstar, but attempted to swarm last summer and stumbled a bit in requeening itself.  It didn't seem to have an especially high Varroa count, but honestly any Varroa mites in the hive are not helping matters.  When I found it dead on March 16th, I didn't have time to do a full autopsy, but peeked in and closed up the entrance to prevent the remaining stores from being robbed out.  There seemed to be a rather small number of (dead) bees in the hive, which leads me to believe there weren't that many in there going into winter.  That may have been related to queen issues from last year, that I didn't pick up on in the fall, or it may have succumbed to a combination of other stress.

The fact of the matter is- hives die; though it's sad, it's the beekeeping world we live in.  On the bright side, the hives at TLC's apiary have done better than average.  Also, as long as Hive A did not fall to a communicable disease, we can reuse all of the equipment and drawn comb from that hive to give a new colony a real head start this spring.  Sounds like a post for the near future!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rocks & Minerals

The Land Conservancy for SCC hosted our favorite geologist, Gale Blackmer of the PA DCNR, for the second Rocks & Minerals event at Bucktoe Creek Preserve. Gale led the first program last fall for the PA Master Naturalist group, and we were happy to have her back again. The group of eleven were tested at the beginning when asked to categorize an unidentified group of rocks. Some participants separated the rocks based on color, some on texture, and even some based on the weight. We learned that identifying rocks is a detailed process, which is often determined by testing of the chemical structure. However, there are a few ways to narrow it down using a few simple tools. Visit this website that will help you ID a rock step-by-step:

Gale Blackmer and two participants identifying rocks.
Metamorphic rocks made of quartz, feldspar, and granite.

There are three fundamentally distinct rock types called Metamorphic, Igneous, and Sedimentary. Overtime, rocks go from one type to another in a process known as the rock cycle. Generally, rocks are initially formed from cooling magma above or below ground, which are called Igneous rocks. Once exposed to Earth's surface, weathering, water, erosion, heat, and pressure can transform an igneous rock into a sedimentary or metamorphic rock. Below is simple diagram showing the cycle: 

Credit: Center for Educational Technologies and the COTF/Classroom for the Future. 

Along Chandler Mill Road we visited a large outcrop, which is a patch of exposed bedrock that allows geologist to study the history of the land.

Participant inspecting the outcrop.

Full view of outcrop. 

For more information visit the PA DCNR Geological Survey website:

Friday, April 5, 2013

PA's history in the soil

As a child, when I would be out digging fence post holes (I did this more than you may think!) I would inevitably hit rock--my dad always said, "That's our soil, lots of shale!  Here's a digging bar, that will help break through the rock."  (really sympathetic don't you think?!)  Years and years later, I found out that Shale is actually known as Wissahickon Schist, and is one of the major geological formations of our area.  Shale is the parent rock that can metamorphosize into: slate, phyllite, schist or gneiss depending on the degree of heat and pressure and of course, Shale and the Marcellus Shale is a hot topic of conversation at the moment.  

However, I'm not writing to tell you about my childhood woes of digging fence post holes or talk about Marcellus Shale, but about the importance of knowing the geology of your area.   A knowledge of the soil type and geology of an area is helpful when you are choosing plants to plant on your property.  

I have found myself wishing that I would have taken that "Rocks for Jocks" class in college (or some similar type alternative) where I learned more about geology.  Lucky for any of you, TLC is holding a Rocks and Minerals educational program tomorrow at the Bucktoe Creek Preserve. It will be led by Gale Blackmer who has taught me everything I now know about the geology of our area (I still have a long way to go!!) 

Go HERE to sign up and find out more information about the class--you can just show up the day of to learn more about our geology and about the volcanic rock?! and icebergs which helped to give southeastern PA many layers, and a very interesting geological foundation. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Plant Diseases and Control from PSU Plant Pathologist Dr. Moorman

 This article was forwarded along to me from the PA State Extension Office Green Industry Newsletter, and I thought it was worth sharing. There are always countless questions about various spots on leaves about this time of the year so I thought this would be a great article to share: 

Spring: A Key Time for Plant Diseases and Disease Control

Posted: April 1, 2013
Spring is a key time for disease control. This is especially true for many leaf, needle, and flower diseases, regardless of the type of plant involved.
Leaf and flower gall on azalea.
Leaf and flower gall on azalea.
Plant disease is a dynamic interaction among the susceptible plant, the environment, and the pathogen that occurs over a period of time and results in a disruption of the plant's appearance or physiology. This interaction occurs in most cases when the plant and pathogen are both active.  And, control measures are usually used when the plant is most susceptible and the pathogen is most vulnerable.  For these reasons, spring is a key time for disease control.  This is especially true for many leaf, needle, and flower diseases, regardless of the type of plant involved.

From the time the buds begin to open until leaves and branches are fully expanded, a plant is highly susceptible to most of its pathogens. Young expanding leaves and twigs of dogwood, ash, oak, maple, and sycamore are vulnerable to infection by the various fungi that cause anthracnose and other leaf spots. Likewise apple scab, rose black spot, Volutella blight of pachysandra, Ovulinia petal blight on azalea, leaf spots on viburnum, Entomosporium leaf spot on hawthorn, and black rot on Boston ivy all begin in the spring as new leaves are forming.

Bacterial diseases too, such as fire blight on the Rose family of plants, cause new infections during flowering in the spring. The needlecasts on Douglas-fir (Rhabdocline and Swiss) and spruce (Rhizosphaera and Stigmina) infect the current year's needles as the needles form in the spring. The cedar rusts that overwinter on junipers form spores in the spring that are blown to their broadleafed hosts. In the case of herbaceous plants, gray mold (Botrytis) and downy mildews (not powdery mildews!) begin as young plants emerge from the ground or are moved from the greenhouse to the landscape.

Although the pathogens involved have been lurking about on plant parts that were infected last year or were dormant in plant debris not cleaned up at the end of the previous season, they were not active during the winter. They were in a dormant state, highly resistant to cold and wet or dry conditions. Because they are not active, they are not sensitive to any chemicals applied to them during their dormancy.  That is why there are no 'dormant sprays' for plant pathogens. The physiology of the pathogen must be active in order for it to be disrupted by fungicides or bactericides. 

During plant and pathogen dormancy is when other things are done to manage disease including pruning infected plant parts and cleaning up and removing plant debris...physically removing the pathogen from the vicinity of what will become susceptible plants in the spring. Spring is when temperatures favor the activity of most plant pathogens and when the wetness on leaves and twigs that is required by almost all plant pathogens for attack is supplied abundantly by Mother Nature.

For these reasons, if you plan to use fungicides or bactericides to manage plant diseases and expect them to give you effective control, application during flowering and leaf and twig expansion in the spring is when these chemicals should be applied.

Later in the summer when the symptoms are obvious but the pathogens have slowed their activity because of high temperatures or lack of wetness, applying a fungicide may make you and your client feel good but the pathogens have had their day and are saying,  "Bring it on. You're too late!" 
Plant pathogens 'spring' into action as buds open and leaves and twigs expand. That's your signal to spring into action too.
Gary W. Moorman, Professor of Plant Pathology

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