Thursday, January 5, 2023

Rime on the Ancient Juniperus

Yesterday’s tree ice was spectacular across the neighborhood. As relatively warm, moist air advected over cold snow, advection fog formed for an extended period. The air temperature had been in the low teens to mid twenties for some time and the trees, very cold branches. The aerosol moisture, in essence a cloud, in contact with those cold branches freezes to become rime ice. In this case, the finer distinction of soft rime which occurs more frequently when there is little wind -just that advecting or moving air. 

The iPhone, as good as it is, has trouble capturing the subtleties of color on one of my favorite winter trees: the often disregarded (due to its ability to colonize prairie and other disturbed sites) Eastern Deciduous Forest native Juniperus virginiana, Eastern Red Cedar. Highly drought tolerant, these evergreen (well, ever-bronze) do well in a home landscape, particularly where soils are well draining sand or gravel. In the right setting, they can live quite a long time -up to four hundred years. I love them in winter, when the greens turn to lavender-bronze and glow red-orange under lengthy sun sets. These, like many around Shelterwood and elsewhere, have grown in old farm fields, making for a low growing, homogeneous forest. Not ideal, but what is? 

I have a soft spot for this species -probably because one, just the one, grew alongside our fence line, in the sandiest of sand soils, providing shade for us kids under hot summer sun.  A laundry effluent drywell installed 25 feet away seemed to boost growth, bringing the tree from 25 to 40 feet or so in a matter of a few years. The bigger picture is to survey one’s own attitudes about plants. Often our desire to plant a species is due to our youthful experience with the same or similar species. Sometimes this drive is okay, sometimes it leads to poor decisions. 

When we desire a plant, strongly, it's helpful to think about why and whether or not it is a good choice for one’s yard conditions or the ecology it belongs to. Occasionally I see a seedling Juniper trying to get a foothold in the woods, on a trail, under any opening in the canopy that allows enough sunlight. Under those conditions, a spindly one may make it, but won't be able to rise above the canopy of deciduous trees. Others I find, occasionally, around the woods edges that border the human "yard." I pot those up or move them as needed. I get to see these on the roads around Shelterwood and that is good enough. 



Monday, December 26, 2022

Sonoran Winter

Not much available for the hungry in the Sonoran Desert in December: but a bunch of likely Soldier butterflies, Danaus eresimus, a Monarch cousin lookalike, feed on what looks to be Mistflower in Tucson’s Tohono Chul garden. 

A sweat bee on, possibly, Tetraneuris scaposa, Four nerve daisy. 

Amazing how many milkweeds are adapted to different biomes. Here we have Pineleaf Milkweed, Asclepias linaria.  

An unknown (to me) caterpillar, possibly a Tussock Moth caterpillar, -one of many on a roadside wall at 5000 ft. 

At a higher elevation, maybe 6000 feet -cactus, moss, and snow.  

You can identify this Monarch lookalike by its white spots on the tops of wings.


Saturday, November 5, 2022

Don't Go Into The Light

It's been a very busy year, and the last three or four months didn't disappoint. After wrapping up a fairly busy nursery season at Shelterwood, managing or teaching 35 photography classes at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, teaching landscape painting for three weeks at Chautauqua Institute, photographing at several sites in far northern and southwestern Minnesota, yesterday I opened my exhibit, "Don't go Into the Light," at my Minneapolis gallery Rosalux

Reflection of artwork in the plate glass window.

The gallery is open 12-4pm Saturdays and Sundays through November and I will be on site for Sunday hours. We are also hosting a couple of special events on climate change and native plants:

Radical Resilience: Climate Change, Habitat & You

Saturday, November 19th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Native Plant Clinic

Sunday, November 20th, 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Has news of a changing climate left you feeling anxious? Has the current drought changed the way you feel about your home landscape? If you want to irrigate less, help pollinators, feed birds, and see thriving life, this free program was designed for you.

Rosalux Gallery and the artist and owner of Shelterwood Gardens, Frank Meuschke is hosting an event on Minnesota-specific climate changes and what you can do to build resilience into your home environment.

Radical Resilience: Event Schedule

Seats are limited. To help with a headcount, please register using this link.


1:00pm: Frank James Meuschke introduces the event, gallery, and artwork

1:15pm: Past, Present, & Future Climate in Minnesota -climate scientist Sam Potter, PHD

2:00pm: Q&A with Sam

15 minute break

2:30pm: Bird & Bat Habitat (in Your Yard) -Hennepin County wildlife biologist Nicole Witzel

3:15pm: Q&A with Nicole

3:30pm: Planting for a Changing Climate -Shelterwood Gardens’ Frank Meuschke

End of Program: Free Bird & Bat House Raffle!

To limit spread of the Omicron Covid in our community, we encourage masking at this group event and please stay home if you do not feel your best. Thank you.


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

EBlast From The Past

A post by Marie on her blog sent me to Google street view and I was close, so I went to look at what had changed in my old neighborhood. The school, a block away is open, big, and then closed for Covid, but open again. It was still under construction when we left. J&L nursery is still there -almost surprising! The corner has a bump out, a traffic control measure that may have been finished before the school -I do not remember, it has been 7 years (what?!).

The first thing I noticed is how the Russian (why is that loaded now?) Zelkova trees have come to completely change the street feel. The former gardens would have been completely shaded and changed to shade loving plants, had those plants remained. They do not. All is gone, bare soil probably steeped in feline urine and poo, among other nasties.

A closer look indicates that my slate "patio" still stands. I mean they have not been moved at all -even the individual slates nearer the sidewalk. If it weren't for someone's outdoor accessories resting against the wall I'd say few, if any, have stepped over that ramshackle iron fence. That fence supported a never flowering, but lovely climbing hydrangea; it held my camera that walked away one morning as I clipped. I wonder if the Mayapples, removed from the trash heap of trail clearing, up in Van Cortlandt Park, still thrive under the last corner Yew. Likely not, but fun to think so.

It is nice to see the block hasn't changed all that much despite the restaurants and bars popping up. Neighborhoods have a way of holding when owners are your neighbors. Thank you Google Tours, Google Memories, Google Nostalgia for a touch of the old world witnessed from the farthest reaches of the eastern deciduous forest.