Local Nature

Local Nature: A Golden Oldie

You don’t need an advanced degree in plant taxonomy to recognize goldenrod. From the passenger’s seat of a car speeding down the Clara Barton Parkway, there it is: golden fingers waving at you from tall green stalks. The splash of dazzling color in early August from this roadside fixture signals the approach of fall. Well …

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Local Nature: Order in the Garden!

First year, sleep; second year, creep; third year, leap. That’s the advice of green-thumbs for those who decide to plant native species in their gardens. In other words, have patience with your new seedlings.  There may be a less happy corollary to this timetable, though, at least when your focus shifts from introducing a single …

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Local Nature: Summer’s End

The end of summer cues the flowering members of the Aster family to take center stage. Fall aster, boneset, mistflower, goldenrod, wingstem, and even ragweed turn out for the last big flowering episode of the season. The warm sunny days of late August bring the most colorful aster of all, black-eyed Susans. They appear then …

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Local Nature: Shady Characters

Tall oaks, hickories, tulip trees, hackberries, or maples create a lovely canopy in a yard and a veritable ecological umbrella: as food for an abundance of caterpillars that attract birds; shelter for bats that eat mosquitoes; protection from soil erosion during our increasingly violent rainstorms; and in summer, a much-welcomed ecological service—natural cooling of our …

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Local Nature: Pride of Maryland (Woodland pinkroot)

In nature’s beauty pageant, what is the most stunning wildflower native to Maryland? There are spectacular candidates like Calypso orchid and Shooting star. But my vote is for a wildflower that shares our state name—Spigelia marylandica—known more familiarly as Woodland pinkroot or Indian Pink. With  its spectacular 2-inch-long, crimson-tubed flowers on the outside contrasting with …

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Local Nature: Nature Rolls Out Her Carpets – Spring Ephemerals

Every spring, Mother Nature rolls out her most exquisite carpets for a limited time only. Rarely is it a red carpet, but throws in shades of yellow, blue, purple, and white on a green background are plentiful. There are the displays of Virginia bluebells, the lacy green foliage and peculiar pantaloons-like flowers of Dutchman’s breeches, …

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