HORT travels

Exploring the horticultural beauty in every adventure.

Seeds Travel

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Ouch! That was definitely an acorn that just hit me on the head. There seems to be a bumper crop of them falling from our trees this year.  When a slight breeze blows it sounds like hail falling through the trees. THUNK!  A black walnut hits the top of the car as I cruise along River Road taking in the fall colors and noting Delaware River water levels (low). Holy moly was that loud and a little bit scary! No dents (in my head or in the car) but all of this fruit flinging has gotten me thinking about the purpose of fall.

Turns out that there are other reasons for fruits to fall from the trees than providing ammunition for you to throw at your younger (though similar sized – I’ll have you know) sibling.  The autumn colors signal to many of us winter is on the way. It’s time to split the rest of the firewood, dig out the long sleeves and extra blankets and find the snow shovel underneath the accumulation of beach chairs and coolers that piled up this summer. Similarly, for wildlife, the changing of the leaves signals a bounty to be eaten and preserved for the cold winter months.

Think about the small red fruits of a dogwood or spicebush, they would be tough to see from a bird’s location high above, and it would take a lot of energy to stop at each tree to figure out if there were ripe fruits to eat. Instead, birds can keep an eye out for the changing of the colors, an entire tree full of red leaves signals to those flying above ripe fruits to be had, fuel for continuing the long migration or fattening up to make it through a (hopefully) snowy winter.

As I explore various places this fall I take a look at the fruits, and the trees from which they fell, and consider their purpose and value.

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The Small Things

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Ahh the Ladybug...Everyone's Favorite carnivorous Beetle

Ahh the Ladybug…Everyone’s Favorite Carnivorous Beetle

Over the past couple of weeks I have been noticing the insect life on the plants near me. So many times I interact with people interested in gardening for the beauty of the flowers and the value of vegetables for their dinner table. Little do they think about the value of the fruits of our garden to the smallest residents, the insects. Rarely, when they consider their newest plant for their garden do they consider the beauty of the bloom or the fragrance of the flower is meant to attract insects, and just happens to be appealing to us as well.

People get frustrated when caterpillars chew holes in leaves, when bees surround the flowers planted near walkways. But that is the purpose of the flowers. They are just doing their job! The same can be said for the insects. I run into students when I am teaching expressing grave concern regarding the bugs in their yard, asking what they can do to get rid of them. “Pave your yard“, is my internal answer. Not much thrives on asphalt. Being an educator, my actual answer is an explanation of the insect/plant connection and ultimately the insect/human connection. You know, how without insects, our lives would be much much harder. Really, you can’t have beautiful flowers without the bugs that go along with them.

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