Friday, April 24, 2015

Come Celebrate Earth Day at ACUA's 25th Anual Earth Day Festival April 26 10am-4pm

This year is a milestone for ACUA's annual Earth Day Festival. The event has been held for 25 years in April rain or shine. I have always loved the festival. I used to attend it with my grandmother back in my younger days. It was here that I first met Howard Boyd, author of "Wildflowers of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey", which I purchased from him and he signed the copy for me. I became a vendor when I started raising native plants in 2005. For several years I have done workshops on native plants and will be again this year, only with a different touch. I will be talking about native plants for pollinators. Because our pollinators are declining, I felt it was important to talk about how we can use native plants to help sustain them.

I usually include a handout with  coupon good at my table. This year the coupon will be for a packet of Common Milkweed seeds. Milkweed is the only larval host plant for Monarch butterflies. I will also be selling Swamp Milkweed.

I will also have the following plants available: 
Blazing Star
Eastern Columbine
Common Milkweed
Smooth Blue Aster
Maryland Golden Aster
Silene caroliniana, Sticky Catchfly
New England Aster
Orange Coneflower
Narrow Leaved Cattail
Slender Blue Flag
Goat's Beard
Creeping Phlox
Sticky Catchfly
Wild Stonecrop

The Sticky Catchfly is a new one I am carrying this year. I bought my first one at Bowman's Hill. I love this little plant as it is small for the front of the border, early and a long bloomer. It makes a nice splash of pink in a rock garden. I was able to source some so I will have it available for sale.

Hopefully the weather will be nice, not too hot or cold. But the festival goes in all kinds of weather so come on out and hear why our native bees are so important and how you can help them thrive. There will also be other workshops of interest like organic gardening, permaculture, backyard chickens and rain barrels as well as local environmental organizations, live music and good food. Check this Twitter hashtag to see more info. #ACUAEarthDay.  Hope to see you there.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Earth Day Plant and Pollinator Area Presentations

I wanted to let you know about some upcoming presentations in the region, given by Daniel Duran, Assistant Professor at Drexel University, on some relevant topics related to native plants. Dan also teaches a native plant college course at Drexel University.


Wednesday, April 22 (Earth Day), 4-5pm
Sponsored by the Drexel Sierra Club
Drexel University, Papadakis Integrated Sciences Bldg, Rm 104
"Assessing the real and perceived environmental impacts of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)"

Wednesday, April 22 (Earth Day), 7-8pm
The 5 B's Lecture Series
Radnor Memorial Library, Wayne, PA
"Backyard butterflies, beetles, and other pollinators"

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Milkweeds are coming.

Each year I try to increase the amount of Milkweeds I grow as they are essential to the Monarchs. As I only grow local eco-types of our regional South Jersey plants, all are done fresh from seed each year. I have grown Asclepias incarnata, (Swamps) Asclepias syriaca (Common) and Asclepias tuberosa, (Butterfly)all quite successfully.

Blunt Leaf Milkweed in Egg Harbor TWP
 In the past I have tried to grow, but was unsuccessful, Asclepias amplexicaulis, ( Blunt Leaf Milkweed), not as common, but not rare. This year, I am happy to report that it did germinate and as of today there are twelve seedlings in the tray and I hope for many more. This plant is growing on my brother's property in Dorothy so it is a local Atlantic County eco-type.  I did sew the Swamps quite heavily and they have germinated and are growing rapidly. I potted up two trays today to have ready for the Earth Day festival at ACUA. I am hoping to have the Common as well, as they sprouted right behind them. The Butterflyweed are coming along a bit more slowly, but they are germinated. I doubt they will be ready for Earth Day, but should be ready by late May. The great thing about Milkweeds is that once potted up, they grow quickly.

If you are looking for Milkweeds, I am planning on bringing extra to the festival this year so I don't run out.  Also I will be giving a talk on Pollinators at 1pm. If you come to my talk I will give you a coupon for a free pack of Common Milkweed seeds with any purchase of 3 or more native plants of any species. I will also be bringing Asters and Seaside Goldenrod which is important food for the Monarchs on migration in the fall.

One thing to remember about Milkweeds and Monarchs is that the leaves are much more important than the flowers. So while the flower provides nectar for all butterflies as well as native bees, the leaves are what the Monarch caterpillars consume. Swamp and Common are the best choices here for the sizable leaves they provide.
Swamp Milkweed provides food for
 Bumble Bees as well as Monarchs

What I love about the Swamps is the beautiful flowers that attract so many pollinators especially Bumble bees. Bumble bees are in trouble as much or more even than honey bees. So in addition to helping Monarchs, you can help the Bumble Bees as well.  I will be talking about that at my presentation. Hope to see you  there.