Animals in the Garden

European Wool Carder Bees: Likable Bullies

European Wool Carder Bees: Likable Bullies

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Nature shows always get you to root for the protagonist, whoever that may be. If the star of the show’s a fox, you’ll find yourself cheering her on to catch the rabbit (although you may have cheered for the rabbit in a previous episode). If the subject’s a skunk, you’ll wish him well as you watch him go about his… Read more →


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Borage as a Butterfly Host Plant

Borage as a Butterfly Host Plant

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By growing borage (Borago officinalis), I’ve been feeding butterflies all along and didn’t realize it. I love Portland, but I’ve been lamenting its scarcity of butterflies since moving here two years ago. Back in the Ohio Valley, I raised monarchs, viceroys, tiger swallowtails, zebra swallowtails (my favorite), giant swallowtails, spicebush swallowtails, pipevine swallowtails, red-spotted purples, and American ladies from eggs… Read more →


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The Weird, Wonderful World of a Peat Bog

The Weird, Wonderful World of a Peat Bog

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“I’d like to visit the swamp.” My parents thought this an odd request when I visited my home state of Minnesota last week, but I’d recently learned that I’d grown up literally next door to one of the most unique plant communities in the world, and I had never appreciated it. So I set out to rediscover the peat bogs of… Read more →


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How to Grow Native Milkweed from Seed for Monarch Butterflies

How to Grow Native Milkweed from Seed for Monarch Butterflies

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If you’ve noticed that there don’t seem to be as many monarch butterflies around in the summer as there used to be, it’s not your imagination. Largely due to habitat loss, the monarch population has dwindled. I’ve learned that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops are likely the biggest culprit, causing me to question my earlier, overly rosy opinion on GM crops. These genetically engineered… Read more →


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When Does Bamboo Bloom?  The Answer Will Blow Your Mind

When Does Bamboo Bloom? The Answer Will Blow Your Mind

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So, I’ve been looking for a plant to screen a gap in the hedge that looks right into the neighbors’ backyard (and trampoline).  I thought a well-behaved clumping bamboo might do the trick, and I checked out the helpful website of Bamboo Garden Nursery near Portland, Oregon. It seemed the common and quite hardy (to Zone 5) Fargesia nitida looked like… Read more →


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A New Garden (And Living with a Celebrity Cat)

A New Garden (And Living with a Celebrity Cat)

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With MUCH fanfare, happy tears, hugs, and rejoicing, I am ecstatic to report that my garden buddy George the cat is home safe. That little fuzzy-faced muppet walked 12 MILES back to our old home after slipping out during the move across town.  This is a cat who regularly locks himself in the bedroom when he accidentally nudges the door shut.  This… Read more →


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Exploring the New Neighborhood

Exploring the New Neighborhood

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I’ve been off-line for some time, in a deep and sorrowful funk. We moved into our new house two and a half weeks ago, which was a joyous occasion, but it was also the day our youngest cat, George, ran off in all the commotion, and we haven’t been able to find him since. He is microchipped, but no one… Read more →


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The Unsung Season of Baby Leaves

The Unsung Season of Baby Leaves

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In much of the country, April is a frenzy of blossoms–cherries and magnolias, crabapples, lilacs, and tulips.  The landscape is flooded with new flowers, and they receive all the glory. Another, more subtle season also unfolds now, however.  It is the season of tiny new leaves.  Out they come in shades of bronze, silver, mustard, toffee, and lime green:  maples… Read more →


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Four Seasons?  How about 43!

Four Seasons? How about 43!

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Spring, summer, fall, and winter.  That covers it, right? Not by a long shot. The more I have gardened, and observed, and become attuned to nature’s rhythms, the less satisfied I have become with our clumsy, generalized words for the seasons. Four measly divisions?!  It’s like trying to describe all the colors in the rainbow using only the terms red,… Read more →


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dragonfly

The Bizarre, Sordid Secrets of Dragonflies You Will Wish You Had Never Learned

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I’ve always enjoyed it when dragonflies visited the garden, but I realized I didn’t know much about them. I knew that dragonflies had finely tuned, 360-degree vision, because I knew how hard it was to get close enough to them for a photo.  I knew they were territorial, because one of them took ownership of the tip of our car antenna for about… Read more →


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