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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Nourish TLC's Roots

If you are looking for something to put on the calendar July 29 through August 4th--TLC recommends that you stop by Kennett Square to visit The Market at Liberty Place.  This market has vendors that will fill your needs from juices, wine, seafood, crepes, pizza, and Philly's own sandwich (the cheese steak).    
Nourish Juice Bar and Cafe, is celebrating their Grand Opening by partnering with TLC. 

From July 29—August 4th, Nourish will be donating 50 cents on every juice, coffee, and espresso drink sold during the week to help TLC Nourish their Roots.  All of the funds donated to TLC will be MATCHED 100% through an ENDOWMENT CHALLENGE created by a generous TLC supporter.  TLC will receive a matching donation up to $300,000 each year for the next five years toward an endowment fund.  Each juice, coffee, and espresso drink purchased during this time will go twice as far to help TLC blaze trails, preserve natural habitats, build a greener community, and instill curiosity and appreciation for the natural world in future generations. 

Nourish Juice Bar & Cafe will be open M-F 7am-7pm; Saturdays 7am-5pm, and Sundays 7am-3pm.  Stop by to check out their menu and support TLC.  Join our Facebook event page and share with your friends. 


Friday, July 26, 2013

Bee's Knees...

Maybe it was used in the Roaring Twenties, but the expression "It's the bees knees" seems to have fallen by the wayside.  The slang translates to something that is great--and while there are many ideas swirling around about how the term originated, I thought it appropriate to talk about how bees actually use their "knees".

Since they have not yet mastered the art of basket weaving, bees have another way of collecting pollen that is very efficient.  There are hair follicles on their hind legs (near their "knees") which secure pollen onto their legs.  The pollen particles are loaded up from the bottom, each particle gets pushed further up the legs as the bee collects the next pollen particle.  Interested in learning what happens after those bees take their pollen back to the hive in their baskets??

Join TLC at the New Leaf Eco Center on Sunday, July 28 for the Open Hive Day.   and now you have a fun response the next time someone mentions that the movie they just saw was the bee's knees!!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have been visiting the Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower) in my garden.  Echinacea is such a great plant, and seems to stay upright no matter what the wind and rain does to it.   The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail can spend its entire life cycle without leaving the confines of my small suburban yard.  The green eggs of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail are laid singly on the plants of the  Magnoliaceae and Rosaceae families.  The Sweet Bay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) in my front yard gives the butterfly a place to lay their eggs while the purple coneflower that is present in every single one of my gardens provides nectar for the adult stage.  A small property can provide homes for some many beautiful and beneficial insects.  
Join TLC at the Heirloom Tomato Festival on August 17 at terrain as we tout "TLC Approved Native Plants." 

Terrain will be donating a portion of the TLC approved plants back to our organization to support our mission. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

July Life in the Garden

Now that the heat of the summer is upon us, I thought it would be worth looking at some garden plants that are flourishing despite the heat, and the fact that they are most definitely not getting babied!! If you are sick of watering, weeding, and babying your flower gardens--maybe this photo of my garden will convince you to jump to my side of the fence and plant natives! They thrive, spreading happily, and choking out any weeds that may appear.   These plants have not been watered once this summer by anything but rain storms.  I can count the number of times I have weeded the entire season (for about 10-15 minutes each time) on three fingers.  Are you jealous yet??   The plants blooming in the picture include: Monarda didyma (Beebalm)--attracts many pollinators AND hummingbirds (can you find the pollinator in the picture?), Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower)--there are only a few plants shown in this angle, and Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)--readily spreads, comes in many more colors than the white shown in the photograph.

If you are interested in learning more about low maintenance native plants, contact us today to set up your fall Landscape Visionaries session.  I guess it is important to note that all plants require some maintenance when they are actually planted and they do need some attention, but in the long run, they do not require the pampering of some of the non-native garden favorites. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Visitor to Wave Petunia's

The recent visitor to my hanging wave petunia baskets is worth mentioning.  "Hummingbird moths/ or Spinx Moths" are fun moths to watch which look very similar from a distance to our Ruby Throated Hummingbird. 

I saw someone buzz right by me, and was excited that my hummingbird visitor had finally gotten into position for a photograph.  Then I took a closer look and realized that it was actually the "hummingbird moth".  The family is: Sphingidae, and they feed much like hummingbirds, hovering in front of a flower sipping nectar through a proboscis.  I believe that the Sphingidae that visited my hanging baskets was Hemaris thysbe--a hummingbird clearwing moth--though some people will use that term to generally describe all Hummingbird Moths.

I realize that the pictures are a little rough with the angle of the sun, but look closely to see if you can find the Hummingbird Moth in these pictures. The top picture shows it drinking the nectar from the plant, and it is hovering at the top of the other photo.  

Are your kids as curious about the wonders of nature, and all the goings on as we are here at TLC??? There are a few spots left for our amazing new summer program: Free Time Adventures in Nature which is sponsored by Trail Creek Outfitters. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oak Tree at Stateline Woods

For those of you who have visited our Stateline Woods Preserve, you have noticed the 200+ year old oak tree in our parking lot that is surrounded by a post and rail fence.  The reason for the fencing is to protect the roots of the tree from cars driving on it.  In the  fall of 2011, Astra Zeneca employees came out to Stateline Woods and planted 380 plugs of grasses and wildflowers within the fenced in area surrounding the oak tree.  Most of the plants have spread, and we are developing a nice wildflower area under the oak tree.  The plants shown blooming in the photograph are: Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot) and Helianthus divaricatus (Woodland Sunflower).  Some of the grasses in the foreground of the photograph were also planted during that time: Elymus virginicus (VA Wild Rye) and Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Lovegrass).  In the background are the tops of the late blooming Solidago caesia (Blue-stemmed Goldenrod). 

We welcome companies to contact us about our Corporate Volunteer Day and Team Building Opportunities. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Visitor at Marshall Bridge Preserve

Photo Credit: Chad Hudson
While we were hiking around Marshall Bridge Preserve, we came across this quite frequent visitor.  I'm sure that everyone has encountered a snapping turtle at some point in their life time.  These opportunistic fresh water feeders will eat almost anything from a small duckling to algae.  They look fairly prehistoric and a little known fact is that there are two types of snapping turtles: Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) and the Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii).

A common snapper has a smoother shell than an alligator snapper’s, which has three distinct spiky ridges. The alligator snapper has a more triangular head with little bumps that look like eyelashes around the eye.  Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and the hatchlings of the Common Snapper have ridges on their shell that will even out over the years.  This photo is most probably a Common Snapping turtle. 

Another interesting snapping turtle fact is that the incubation temperature of snapping turtle egg determines the sex of the turtle. Eggs typically need to incubated in the 80 degree range, but eggs hatched at cooler temperatures tend to produce males, and those at higher temperatures, females.

Want to have your kids come out to explore and experience all things nature?? Join TLC and Trail Creek Outfitters for our Free Time Adventures in Nature series-- in addition to checking out all the turtles, frogs, bugs, and salamanders that we find other adventures will include: geocaching, letterboxing and GNOMES....

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reconnecting with Nature

"In today's world of overpopulation and high consumption, it is essential that we make an effort to keep people in touch with the earth: its natural rhythms, the changing seasons, its beauty and mystery." 
- Paul E. Knoop, Jr.
(Taken from the Foreword of Sharing Nature with Children, by Joseph Cornell)

The rainy weather held off for the third Sharing Nature with Children event over July 4th weekend. A group of friends and parents met at the 300-acre Bucktoe Creek Preserve for a morning nature activity with TLC. Saturdays activity focused on strengthening memorization of natural objects such as, types of rocks, plants and seeds. 

Thirty seconds to memorize ten objects - Go!
We also got a bit distracted by the energetic group of frogs in the pond we were working next to :)
Sneaking up on a frog.

If you are interested in bring your child to Sharing Nature with Children, join TLC on the first Saturday of every month from 10:00 AM - 11:00! Click here to register for the remaining dates. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rain Garden Update

Our office rain garden changes throughout the season and we wanted to share what is blooming in July.   Overall, the rain garden has been functioning well since its installation during a rain garden workshop in the spring of 2012.

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) These are the red spikes.  This plant is not a true perennial but readily re-seeds in disturbed soil.  This makes it a great addition to a rain garden or any planting with soil disturbance. This plant attracts hummingbirds, and can be a great addition to any garden, but if you plant it in your regular garden, be sure to disturb your soils each year so that it has a place to re-seed.  
Liatris spicata (Blazing star) These are the purple spikes throughout the garden.  This is a fairly adaptable plant which makes it a great choice for a rain garden--it favors moist soils, but is drought tolerant and can also grow well in drier soils if no other options exist.  It will grow in full sun to partial shade.  This plant is a true perennial and maintains the upright structure in the garden.  For those of you interested in planting a pollinator garden, this plant has special attraction for bumble bees--in fact I saw a few floating around while I was taking these photographs.  

Liatris is a plant that is on the wishlist for my flower beds, once the moratorium on my plant addition has been lifted. (unless i sneak them in and my husband doesn't notice..)  I love Lobelia but my fairly aggressive plants (and lack of disturbance) in my gardens would smother the plant before it would have the opportunity to establish itself.

Our rain garden workshop was one example of ways that TLC strives to educate landowners about changes they can make on their property.  Always check our education programs and upcoming events to learn about the next demonstration session which could pertain to your backyard.  If you are interested in a one-on-one interaction, then perhaps our Landscape Visionaries sessions are for you.  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Rainy Weather and the river banks

I'm sure that at some point over the last few weeks an over flowing river, creek, or flash flood has made you change your course as you drive throughout your daily commute.  If it hasn't, apparently your vehicle is a little higher off the ground than mine.  Some of these creeks and streams that are overflowing their banks have done it for centuries, and human interaction has not caused the problem. 

However, there are some cases where water flow is added to the creeks because the removal of vegetation and the addition of impervious coverage.  Less places for rain water to infiltrate back into the ground means more run off which makes its way into our waterways overflowing the banks.  Developed farmland is one such culprit, and organizations such as The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, help to provide options in ways to protect these lands from development.  If you are in a position of holding land and looking for options as to how to sustain it, or protect it for future generations we hope that you'll consider contacting TLC to learn about your options!!

Now is the Best Time in History to 
Preserve Your Land! 
 Taxes rates are high, that's bad news, but the good news is that favorable tax incentives and offsets for private landowners are the best that they have been in history -- especially for working family farmers and landowners of modest means -- who preserve their land with a voluntary conservation agreement.
 But conservation minded landowners only have until DECEMBER 21st 2013 to take advantage of the enhanced tax deduction. NOTE: Landowners must contact TLC by OCTOBER 1st 2013 at the latest to begin the conservation process. 
When landowners donate a conservation easement to TLC they maintain ownership and management of their land and can sell or pass the land on to their heirs, while foregoing some or all of the future development rights. 
 The enhanced incentive applies to a landowner's federal income tax. Specifically it:
  • Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%;
  • Allows many farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income; and
  • Increases the number of years over which a donor can take the deduction from six to sixteen years. 
If you are interested in preserving you land, have questions about how tax incentives work or would like to hear about TLC's landowner conservation financing options, contact Gwen Lacy, Executive Director at 610-347-0347 ext. 102 or

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bugged Out..

This awesome fella was found hanging out at the house of one of TLC's staff..they brought in the picture to see if we could figure out what it was.  I'm not an entomologist by any means, but the internet is sometimes quite useful (except when it doesn't work) and we ID'ed this fella: A Eastern Eyed Click Beetle. 

The two eye spots fake out predators who may just think it is a snake looking at them known in the field of biology of mimicry or Batesian mimicry (a harmless mimic poses as something harmful).  A tree snake would think of a bird as a tasty dinner... So you are saying, right harmless--what about my vegetable and flower gardens? He's bound to eat them right??  Our friend the Eastern Eyed Click Beetle, will not do damage to living plants, and their larvae prey on the larvae of wood borers--which is a beneficial thing! So next time you see an Eastern Click Beetle--listen to hear it click (when they are threatened they perform like circus acrobats, flipping over onto their backs, and the hinges in their thorax make a "clicking sound" as it launches into the air)--but don't fear, because your plants are safe.  We'll leave the discussion of the ornamental grass that he is perched on for another day---there are many wonderful NATIVE grasses that could go in its place..

Insects, flowers, stones and more--all things you'll learn more about by attending one of TLC's educational programs. Check out this full list HERE or come out this Saturday to Bucktoe Creek Preserve for our ongoing Sharing Nature with Children program.  Be sure to RSVP. 

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