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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Homeowner Association Clinic

 Many Home Owners Associations have open spaces or common areas which typically have trails and provide some habitat for our local flora/fauna.  One local Home Owners Association was interested in learning more about ways to control invasives on their property, and maintain the trails through there open space. TLC's Landscape Visionaries team was hired to do clinics where we take interested residents around their common grounds and control invasives, talk about native plants, help build water bars, and other control tactics.  These pictures are from the second in a four part series of clinics for this local HOA.  The top picture is where I am professing my love for Asclepias Tuberosa (Butterfly weed--OR THE MONARCH FLOWER--click here to see previous posts and more information).  One of the people on the hike asked what the orange flower was in the middle of the field, which lead to a long discussion about the wonders of Asclepias in general!

In the bottom photo, I am pointing out a least favorite native plant of most normal people (besides those of us who are not affected by the rash) I'll give you a hint..leaves of three....yup---Poison Ivy.  After a few more stops to chat about various plants along the way, we made our way into the woods to target some invasive trees that were fairly prominent along the trail.  In addition to combating the invasive plants, we also ended up opening up sections of the trail that were becoming overgrown with species such as Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle) among others!

Is your HOA interested in learning ways that you can better manage your open space?? Contact us today to learn more!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Paddling the Brandywine

Beautiful morning on the Brandywine River.
TLC and friends explored the Brandywine River this past Saturday with Environmental Educational Consultant, Vivian Williams. Our group of eleven began the adventure at the Brandywine River Museum, and paddled down stream for an hour and a half until we reached Point Lookout Beach where Vivian awaited with lunch! The Point Lookout Beach is along the Brandywine at the home of Jamie Wyeth.

After the delicious subs from The Landenberg Store, our group examined life in the river. Mayfly, stonefly, water penny, and caddisfly nymphs were plentiful. Unique findings included, adult mayflies, adult stoneflies, caddisfly casings, and fresh water mussel shells.

Vivian demonstrated the proper techniques for collecting and handling these delicate macro invertebrates. As a group we determined the Brandywine River possessed macro invertebrate species that indicate a healthy stream quality. Participants are now able to conduct small stream surveys to determine water quality in their own backyard.
Vivian Williams & group exploring life on rocks. 

BIG thanks to Vivian Williams and Wilderness Canoe Trips for making this a great experience for TLC!

Vivian Williams will be leading an Origami Dragonfly workshop with TLC on July 13th. Be sure to register here ahead of time!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Great American Backyard Campout

TLC always encourages friends and families to turn off the computers and get outside whether it is taking a hike on one of our Preserves (which are open dawn until dusk seven days a week), attending one of our programs, or just enjoying your own backyard with your family. 

The beautiful weather of the weekend will lend itself to joining TLC as we celebrate the longest day of the year with an owl prowl.  On Saturday we will be canoeing on the Brandywine to meet educator Vivian Williams--this program is sold out, but you can still experience the great outdoors by participating in the Great American Backyard Campout with your family.  More information can be found here:

Enjoy all the beauty that summer and nature has to offer at a nature preserve near you! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pollinator advice for National Pollinator Week

If you are interested in learning more about how to provide habitat on your property, TLC offers their Landscape Visionaries sessions.  A TLC staff member will discuss your vision on a visit to your property, and then write a report with suggested recommendations.  In honor of National Pollinator Week, check out this brief glimpse of a report for a local landowner who had beehives, and was also interested in native pollinators: 

"We had discussed planting a patch of sunflowers near your bees for easy pollen access.  I would recommend using Helianthus helianthoides (False sunflower).  This plant flowers for approximately eight weeks with the peak blooms occurring in mid-July.  It is self-sowing, attracts butterflies, bees, and if you leave it standing into the fall, the birds will flock to it to eat the seeds that have not already dropped into the ground.  This plant can tolerate moist to dry soils, and prefers full sun to partial shade, so the best option would be to plant this in the sunniest area near the bee hives.

We also discussed planting either a vine or some other type of shrub that would work as a wind block for the bee hives.  Locerina sempervirens (native honeysuckle) is a well behaved member of the honeysuckle family that attracts hummingbirds with its reddish orange flower.  This is a twining vine that needs some type of support to get started climbing.  It can be trimmed to your specifications.  The amounts of flowers on the vine are directly proportional to the sun that the plant receives.  It can tolerate drought but prefers a moist soil.  I would think that you should purchase four or five plants to act as a windblock for the bee hives.    

    Ilex glaubra (Inkberry) is a semi-evergreen shrub in the holly family (though not prickly like the American Holly).  You must be sure to plant male and female plants so that you will get berries and cross pollination.  The shrub produces a white flower in May, June, and July and is another plant that is touted by the Xerces Society as being a great plant for both honeybees and our native bees.  "

Sunday, June 16, 2013


It's a little off our typical blog topics but TLC has just unveiled the new look of our website and I wanted to pass it along to all of the blog followers out there--if you have checked out our website in the past, we hope this new version will be a little more streamlined and more image friendly!

We have a new look but the same URL:

At least all the stormy weather that we have had recently has given us some fun photographs--sun peaking through the clouds over preserved open space--yet another reason to help us protect our views!

Friday, June 14, 2013

And you think a squirrel is a pest??

The PA-Birds list serve is a wonderful resource to find out about all of the bird sightings and events throughout southern Chester County.   A great story and photographs worth sharing came across the list serve--if you think you have trouble with squirrels at your bird feeders, check out this MI man's encounter with his feeders.  The pictures are worth it!!

-- Shared using Google Toolbar My  birdfeeders were safe inside the doghouse for over two weeks...until this  morning. Very bold bear ate its fill while it watched me take pictures. There  were actually two bears in the yard.
The other had a light snout, and appeared  to be last years cub. Plan B is putting the feeders hanging from the peak of  my house, and filling from a stepladder, which is what I did last year. north  of Ishpeming, where the Blackflies and Black Bears roam  free!

If you are at all interested in learning more about birds (in addition to attending our wonderful birding programs--more information on our website: ) you can sign up for the list serve at:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


from our travels abroad, we see that the state flower of PA is in full bloom.   

Kalmia latifolia or Mountain Laurel, is a beautiful flowering evergreen plant that is native to the state of PA.  You'll find it blooming along the road side, or as you take a walk through the woods.  This shade loving understory plant is moderately deer resistant, and seems to like more acidic soils.  The flowers are more spectacular with a moderate amount of sunlight.  The native variety comes in various hues from white to a pinkish shade, personally, I think this plant is quite spectacular, but if you like a little variation within your garden there are numerous cultivars that change the flowering color quite drastically.  Anyway you slice it, this rain that we have been having recently is worth the beautiful flowers that are starting to bloom!

Want more advice on all things native plants or invasive plants on your property?? Schedule a session with our Landscape Visionaries coordinator today for a personalized visit and walk and talk.  After the visit you will receive a report with detailed information about the points that were discussed.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

TLC Bids Farewell to Aigas and the Scottish Highlands & Islands

TLC Travelers bid their final goodbye to the Aigas Field Center and the Scottish Highlands and Islands.  Our two week stay included forays to a variety of Glens, Firths, Lochs, Castles, Cathedrals, Priories, Archaeological Sites, Wildlife Restoration Sites, such as Aigas' reintroduction of the European Beaver and the Scottish Wildcat, the Isle of Skye and Orkney.  We glimpsed bottle nosed dolphins, pine martins, beavers, raptors, wild flowers, such as the infamous Scottish blue bells, and the ever illusive Scottish Primrose and enjoyed chats with and stories by Sir John, feasts created by Lady Lucy, and adventures galore provided by Aigas Field Rangers under the guidance of Warwick Lister- Kaye.  Words cannot describe our experience, photos may afford it some justice, so please CLICK HERE to experience memories and images from our last days at Aigas. Images for TLC Travels that will last a lifetime, well at least until our next trip!  JOIN US- IT WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD!
TLC Travelers Parting Shot 
Sir John and Lady Lucy with Shawn from Beauly Firth and  Glens Pipe Band 
Last Supper in the Aigas Hall
Green Roof Magnus Environmental Education Center at Aigas

Scoping for golden eagles at Glen Strathfarrar before heading to the airport

To learn more about our gracious hosts, naturalists and educators CLICK HERE 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

TLC Travels - Orkney

Scottish Primerose
TLC explored the amazing archeology and scenery of the Western Mainland on Orkney as part of the Historic Scotland sites. The theme was the Neolithic period with a look at life in the Orkneys 5000 years ago. We visited the chambered burial Cairn of Maeshow, the Ring of Brodgar and the fascinating site of Skara Brae, which is the best preserved Neolithic village in  Northern Europe. We wandered the cliffs of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Marwick Head Nature Preserve to search for puffins and other shore birds then scoured the cliffs at Yesnaby for the ever- illusive Scottish Primrose- found only on Orkney.  We are still in search of the puffins however...

Ring of Brodgar
The Orkney Islands are world famous for having the greatest concentration of archaeological monuments in Europe, and the Ring of Brodgar (pictured right) represents the ancient heritage of the area. The 27 stone ring stretches 104 meters wide and was believed to be dated between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. 

Marwick Head Reserve is a very important area with the sheer sandstone cliffs providing nesting sites for thousands of seabirds including guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, kittiwakes and puffins. The tops of the cliff (pictured below) are also a great spot for wildflowers.

TLC's Executive Director, Gwen Lacy,
searching for puffins at Marwick Head

Stay tuned for the final week of the TLC Scotland adventure. To see more pictures of Orkney click here - or for other sites of Scotland click here
Ferry to St. Margaret's Hope/ Orkney

Sunday, June 2, 2013

TLC Travels- Black Isle

Today we headed out from Aigas to explore the mosaic of habitats indicative of the Black Isle.  We got a great look of the resident bottle nose dolphins, cormorants, guillemots, and razor billed gulls from Chanory Point, said to be the best landward site in Europe. We took a whimsical hike through the Fairy Glen- a Royal Society for the Protection of Bird's Nature Preserve, followed by a look around Fortrose Cathdral, circa 14th century. CLICK HERE to see more photos from the Black Isle.

CLICK HERE to read TLC's Scotland host and owner of the Aigas Field Centre, John Lister-Kaye's article in The Telegraph. 
John Lister-Kaye: We should be worried about more than weather - Telegraph
As the coldest spring in 50 years creates havoc in the country, could darker forces also be at work?

Boarding Ecoventures on the Black Isle

Bottlenose Dolphins

Waterfalls at Fairy Glen

Fortrose Cathedral

Saturday, June 1, 2013

TLC travels leaving Isle of Skye

We have just returned from an amazing jaunt to the Isle of Skye.  We made our way back via turn style ferry with a Scottie dog named Bobby and a train ride along the lochs- breath taking. We had a bit of a history hike today with dolphin watches at the Black Isle tomorrow.  Next major posts will be of our journey to the mythical Orkney Island. CLICK HERE to view photos.

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