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Gardenscapes Newsletter March 2021

April is one of my favorite months. April is from the Latin word aperio, which means "to open" (bud), because plants begin to grow during this month. It is also a month where we celebrate both Earth Day and Arbor Day (here in Ohio.)
The best thing one can do is to plant a native tree or volunteer to plant trees in your community. Lucy Larcom, the great American teacher, poet and author from the 1800's said "He who plants a tree, plants a hope". That is something we and our planet all need...Hope!

Native Plants versus Cultivars

Nancy Lawson interviews Annie White, about her studies comparing how frequently pollinators visit native species versus their cultivars.  She talks a lot about Lobelia and the Hummingbirds.  The native red Lobelia (Lobelia cardinalis) has optimal nectar production which is important to the high energy hummingbird and cultivars just do not have the same nectar content, so the Hummingbirds are busy flying expending more energy than the cultivar/nectar can provide for refueling.  Native Blue Lobelia (Lobelia silphitica), has less nectar content, but is good for the bumble bees which actually do not require as much energy as the Hummingbirds.  Please educate yourself and others on the importance of planting native plants by taking time to read the article "Flower Power:  Cultivars vs. Straight Species".

“Dead” Trees are Actually Full of Life

Standing dead trees, called snags, provide birds and mammals with shelter to raise young and raptors with unobstructed vantage points. Large downed trees also provide important habitat for wildlife.

Hundreds of species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish benefit from snags for food, nesting or shelter! 

Only 30 bird species are capable of making their own nest cavities in trees. The pileated woodpecker is a famous example. Another 80 animal species, depend upon previously-excavated or natural tree holes for their nests. 

The insulation of a tree-trunk home allows wildlife to survive high summer and low winter temperature extremes. Tree cavities and loose bark are used by many animals to store their food supplies, while insects living inside the dead wood eat thousands of pests, which can harm living trees. Woodpeckers feast on the wood-eating insects.

If you live in a suburb and can't always provide snags on your property, please consider nesting boxes (which mimic tree cavities) and also building brush piles.

The following is a 4 minute video which explains how to build brush piles.  PA Game Commission; Building Brush piles for Wildlife

Monarch Winter 2020-2021 Numbers Released

According to newly released data, the population of monarch butterflies in Mexico wintering sites decreased by 26 percent over last winter. On February 25, 2021, the World Wildlife Fund-Telmex Telcel Foundation Alliance, in collaboration with the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, released data from the winter 2020–21 monarch butterfly population counts. Monarchs occupied 2.10 hectares in December 2020, compared to 2.83 hectares at the same time in 2019.

Monarch numbers are largely driven by climatic factors and habitat availability. Unfavorable weather conditions during spring and summer 2020, especially in the southern United States at the time the monarch population was migrating north from Mexico, led to lower numbers throughout the summer on the northern breeding grounds. While monarchs are able to fly long distances to find milkweed host plants and nectar sources, widely spaced milkweed patches mean that females need to search longer as they are laying eggs, and thus they lay fewer eggs over the course of their lives. In the wintering sites in Mexico, as forests become more heavily degraded they are less able to buffer the monarchs from temperature extremes, including both warm daytime temperatures and cold nighttime temperatures.

In addition to changes in climate and habitat, exposure to environmental toxins (including mosquito sprays), diseases, and predators also affect monarch survival.

One of the important aspects to saving the Monarchs is to be able to recognize them at each stage of their life.   We have provided pictures of what you should look for on our Save the Monarch page located on our web site. 

Please consider planting Milkweed (Asclepias) to help save the Monarch Butterfly!

We do not have the right to starve local pollinators species by not planting the native flowers on which they depend. 

We also no longer have the right to ignore the stewardship responsibilities attached to land ownership.

Organic Air Tree and Shrub Care

This is Bernie Carr, our friend in the green industry and  owner of Organic Air Tree and Shrub Care.  Too much soil burying the root flare of trees, is a slow death for most trees.  Improper planting, girdling roots, or soil build up around a tree's root system is not healthy for this living organism.  Bernie and his crew specialize in all facets of organic tree care including organic root-feeding, organic foliar sprays, repairing compacted soils (especially after new construction), and removing girdling roots.  Please visit their website for more information at

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