You can't really see it, but it's quite thick. Did I read every word? Pretty close. Will I remember everything? Extremely doubtful.
Not all the material applies directly to this blog or to gardening. But a lot does.
The focus is on reducing the footprint. As John Muir said, and the nature center proclaims on its signage, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
That philosophy isn't really new to me, but the training has given me a deeper appreciation for, and knowledge of, my state's natural resources. Here are just a few things I've learned through the experience:
- If you have an opportunity to take a class that interests you, go for it! The master naturalist training has been an incredibly rewarding experience. If your state offers master gardener and/or master naturalist training--and you have the inclination and can make the time for it--don't hesitate.
- You're never too old to "go to school." One of the best parts of the training is all the new friends I've made--from young folks in their 20s to retirees; men and women; and people with all kinds of backgrounds and areas of expertise.
- The transition from early spring to late spring is even more dramatic when you only visit a place once a week. Each drive over to my class near Milwaukee was different--and Southern Wisconsin sprang to life before my eyes from April to June.
On a more practical level, here are a few plant-specific lessons I've learned--some from class, and others in my own garden:
- Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is an exotic invasive shrub in the Midwest. Not only does it crowd out light to native understory plants in a forest, it also threatens wildlife. Recent research reveals that Buckthorn releases a chemical compound into amphibian breeding grounds that disrupts their embryo development and hatching. Click here for more information regarding the research.
- Fens and Sedge meadows are among the rarest plant communities in North America. Only a select group of plants can tolerate their unique wetland conditions. They have a disproportionate number of rare, threatened, and endangered plant species, compared with other plant communities in the Great Lakes Region.
- Various species of insect-eating warblers occupy different parts of the same tree. They minimize competition by using different parts of trees to find food. Bay-breasted warblers tend to hang out in the tree canopy, for example, while myrtle warblers occupy the lower branches. Other warblers prefer other sections of the same tree.
- If you're planting Clematis in a garden with large deciduous trees, do it as early as possible during the growing season. This will give its growth a head start before the trees leaf out. Also, if rabbits are a problem in your garden, surround the Clematis with as many barriers as possible. Place aluminum foil at the base to help repel the rabbits. It might not look nice, but it will give the plants a chance to grow. Once established, you can remove the foil.
- Hold off planting Hyacinth Bean seeds if you're having a cold, wet spring. I planted some a couple of weeks ago, and while they've sprouted, they haven't shown much growth. Recently, I've read on a few blogs that they don't like cold, wet soil. They actually rot if the soil isn't warm and dry enough.
- Wild Ginger can be an effective deterrent to Garlic Mustard. For more information, read my previous post on this topic.
I could go on, but now it's your turn. What gardening and nature lessons have you learned this season? If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, how is your harvest?
Please join in the Lessons Learned meme by sharing a new or a previous post you've written about what you've learned this season. Instead of using a Linky this time, feel free to add the link to your comment on this post.
Please also join Donna at Gardens Eye View for the Seasonal Celebrations meme. Posts that cover both memes offer a chance to reflect on the past season and look ahead to the next at the same time. Both memes will be active until the solstice, when we'll post the wrap-ups. Happy Summer!