The Serviceberry is a large shrub/small tree known by many names. Also called Shadblow, Shadbush, Juneberry and Wild Currant, this shrub is a pollinator powerhouse. One of the earliest blooming plants, its white blossoms come out in late March, giving those waking pollinators a reliable food source early in the season. By June (hence the name Juneberry and at the same time the American Shad begin their annual upstream river run, accounting for another of its common names Shadbush) the berries have formed and are ready for consumption. An under story tree, it grows well in both wetland and non-wetland areas and is moderately drought and salt tolerant. The berries that ripen in late May or early June are reminiscent of blueberries in taste but keep an eye on them, as they are a favorite of songbirds, who will clear a harvest before you can get to them. Whatever the songbirds leave, will quickly be gobbled up by wild turkeys, grouse, bobwhites, mourning doves, skunks, red foxes, raccoons, black bears, squirrels and chipmunks who are also avid fans of the fruit. Rabbits, beavers, and deer browse the twigs. The leaves of this useful shrub turns a beautiful red in the fall, giving you loads of autumn color. Serviceberry attains a maximum height of 25 feet and has a moderate growth rate and will happily grow in full sun to part shade.
The Eastern Larch (also known as the Tamarack) is the only deciduous conifer native to Ohio, which means that the Larch loses its needles in the winter. But before it does, the Larch features beautiful yellow-orange needles in the fall, providing a stunning autumn display. This conifer requires wet soils, and sunlight. Extremely cold tolerant, the Larch grows in zones 2-5 and will winter in temps as cold as -65 degrees. In our area, constant moisture in swamps, bogs and flood zones allow the larch to keep its root zone cool and its ability to thrive in anaerobic soils allows it be the perfect tree for those constantly wet spaces. The Larch is a tall tree, topping out above 80 feet at full maturity so give it plenty of room. The wood of the Larch is rot resistant, which is why the Native Americans used the root strings to sew their birch bark canoes and used the tough wood for snowshoes. Later, the timber was used for a variety of uses including shipbuilding, railroad ties, telephone poles and more. If you’re looking for an unusual native tree for a habitually waterlogged site, the Larch may be the tree for you!
I live pretty far from most civilization. Fairly common around here, it’s where the gravel road meets the dirt road and then you drive a little further. The kind of place where you go to sleep with the sounds of bullfrogs and crickets and the sound of cars is disruptive. A month or two ago, I had a delivery to my house and when the city boys delivering my order got out of their truck, it was dark and quiet and I chuckled to myself as I heard one of them say “Man, I ain’t ever been anywhere this dark before.”
When I moved to my home, one of the first calls I made was to the power company. I told them to head on out and remove the giant light at the top of the electric pole near the driveway. I didn’t need it. They were shocked but I was resolute. We also removed the motion lights and we made sure we didn’t leave any lights on at night. I hate nighttime light because it blocks the view of the stars and more importantly, we didn’t have any fireflies. What? What is that about fireflies? Well, there were so many nighttime lights around our house, we couldn’t see the stars and we didn’t have any fireflies. There are lots of perks living where there are real roads and if I’m giving them up, well let’s just say that I’m going to, at the very least, need some stars.
Fireflies are dramatically affected by ALAN (or artificial light at night) and recent studies show that our North American firefly populations are under threat. ALAN severely affects the reproduction and communication of North American Firefly species and may be one of the leading causes of their decline (along with a loss of habitat). ALAN is classified into three distinct types.
1. Skyglow-the glowing haze you see over urban areas.
2. Light trespass- light at ground level spreading beyond its intended area. This occurs when you have outside lights that spread far beyond the pathway you are attempting to light.
3. Glare- this is the excessive lighting you have from large or high wattage fixtures (my power pole light is a perfect example).
These lights affect more than just the fireflies. They disrupt the life cycles of nocturnal animals, amphibians, birds and other insects. In Florida alone, it is calculated that millions of sea turtle hatchlings die annually as a direct result of light pollution. ALAN affects their ability to find the nighttime horizon to reach the sea. There are significant questions about what nighttime light does to the human circadian rhythm as well. Light pollution has significant consequences to the plants and animals around us and there are so many easy ways to help.
1. Turn out the lights. One of the things that I noticed after I turned the lights out was how much easier it became to see in the dark. Your eyes quickly adjust to the lack of artificial light and a full moon can quickly seem like daylight.
2. If you must have light for safety, install motion sensing lights. These will come on as needed but quickly go off, leaving the area dark unless the light is necessary.
3. Use timers to shut off lights, instead of leaving them on all the time.
4. Use the absolute minimum wattage necessary.
5. If you must use lights, make sure the lights point to the ground and use shields to prevent the light from shining into the night sky.
Some non-lighting ways to help the fireflies? Fireflies need rotten wood to lay their eggs and give their larvae a place to grow. They live in leaf and forest litter, so make sure that in your zealous attempts to tidy your yard, you’re leaving (no pun intended) good habitat for fireflies and butterflies. Fireflies need the same uninterrupted space as most insects, so attempting to leave their spaces undisturbed is the best way to create firefly habitat.
Oh, and my fireflies? I’m thrilled to say that one evening, last summer (more than six years after shutting off the lights), I went out to drink a cup of tea and listen to the bullfrogs before going to bed on a balmy summer night and my backyard looked like a million flashbulbs were lighting the night sky. There were more fireflies than stars. It was magical.
Today, let’s discuss the Chokecherry. This small tree is native to our Ohio landscape and grows to a height of about 30 ft. It is pleasantly shade tolerant and will grow in heavy limestone soils, along both riverbanks and fencerows. It thrives on soil disturbance and can be an excellent choice for erosion control. The Chokecherry is a great choice for wildlife, as most animals eat the fruit that ripens in the early fall. Bears love chokecherry so much that they will damage the trees trying to strip the fruit from them. The beautiful flowers are beautifully scented and provide local pollinators with late spring blossoms. The tree is a host for the Eastern Tent Caterpillar, and is susceptible to caterpillar damage. The fruits can be harvested to make delicious jellies, jams and wines once they properly ripen. One caveat is for those with livestock, the wilting leaves and young sprouts of the Chokecherry tree can be poisonous for all ruminants, horses and swine.
Good morning everyone! Today we are going to discuss Buttonbush. If you’re looking for a shrub to plant in wet soils, Buttonbush may be the one. A long-lived (up to 50 years in some cases) large shrub that reaches 7-12 feet tall at maturity, this shrub will thrive in wet spaces and stand up well to flooding. Buttonbush likes full to part sun (with at least 4 hours of sun daily). In drier spaces, the shrub will remain more compact. It is an excellent choice for controlling stream bank erosion and creates a fine windbreak along marshy borders. But the primary benefit of the Buttonbush is its flowers. Covered in white fragrant summer blossoms, this shrub attracts over 24 varieties of songbirds who consume the seeds of the Buttonbush. Pollinators are drawn to its nectar and Wood Ducks like to use the shrub for brooding nests. Buttonbush is of particular value for bees, producing copious nectar from July to September.
Our biggest event of the night was our annual election. It ended with the re-election of supervisor Lance Deal, who was running against Dr. Lois Zook. We appreciate the willingness of both Lance and Lois to serve… https://t.co/qAYjIuCdpx
Our annual meeting and banquet had some very special visitors this year. With this being our 75th Anniversary, we wanted to celebrate our extensive Muskingum County agricultural history. We have a total of 28 farms… https://t.co/CaABU6x9Qu
Our annual meeting and banquet had some very special visitors this year. With this being our 75th anniversary, we wanted to focus on Muskingum County's long farming history and we were lucky to have Kirk Hines from… https://t.co/tE9Jfmzc45
Each year we award an award for the biggest tree in Muskingum County. This years tree belonged to Carl and Linda Vernon. Carl and Linda’s tree is a beautiful White Oak measuring an enormous 210 inches in… https://t.co/QQ1HjoGp48
This year we had many great nominees for our Educational Outreach Award. But we realized that we could not compare apples to oranges. So we decided to award two programs and award a large group and small group… https://t.co/Um0TTmPSK7
Our Conservation Educator of the year award went to Jeremy Ryan, Agricultural Education teacher at West Muskingum School District. Jeremy is in his 9th year as the Agriculture Education teacher at West Muskingum High… https://t.co/3uRTOcUaNj