Signs of summer

An early morning stroll in my ‘back 40′ led to some pleasant discoveries. First, the lovely Hardy Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’ is now wielding massive 8 -10 inch diameter blossoms on stems with bronze colored foliage. The fun thing is, it looks as gorgeous from the front as it does from the back – if only you take the time to notice.




Hardy Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’

While inspecting the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) that I planted two years ago (doing my part to save the Monarch butterflies) I discovered two half-inch long Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterfly caterpillars happily munching away. It will be fun to watch them mature.


Monarch butterfly caterpillar

Milkweed blossoms

Milkweed blossoms


Red Milkweed Beetle

There are many other insects that appreciate the Milkweed patch. One of the most obvious is the Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus). At first glance, this may appear to be a Spotted Asparagus Beetle, but it is actually one of our native long-horned beetles. This second photo has some focus issues, but the charachteristic long-horned antennae are more visible.DSC03904

Thanks to a late August birthday, I didn’t have fond memories of celebrating childhood birthdays in my school classrooms. Why? Back-in-the-day-oh-so-long-ago, school started after Labor Day. Needless to say, it felt like everyone had a birthday to celebrate during the school year but me. The one thing I always remember about my late August birthday is that you could tell that summer was winding down. How? The start of the cool and foggy mornings. Something like the one we had today. In mid-ish July! Spiderwebs adorned with the jewels of dew are mesmerizing! DSC03905




Oregon Historic District Garden Tour



The Oregon Historic District Society will present its annual Summer Solstice Garden Tour of nine distinctive private gardens on the first day of summer, Saturday June 21, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. As Dayton’s oldest historic district, the Oregon District is a rich mix of historic and contemporary homes, with architecture ranging from the mid-1800s to modern.

The garden tour will begin at the gazebo at Newcom Founders Park at Green and Brown Streets near downtown Dayton. Tickets for the self-guided tour cost $10 per person, and proceeds benefit the non-profit Oregon Historic District Society, which is involved in historic preservation efforts.

Desserts from Buttercream Lane Bakery and beverages will be available for sale at the gazebo, as will decorative potted plants. A master gardener will be on hand to answer questions about gardening. The tour will be held rain or shine. Fifth Street businesses and restaurants will be open during the day, including Lily’s Bistro, which will offer half-price appetizers to tour participants who bring in their admission map.

The gardens on tour demonstrate how much can be done with urban gardening spaces, ranging from small to large gardens tucked alongside and behind historic homes, including the Victorian mansion built in 1877 by John Balsley, a brick home built in 1845 with a lush garden filled with art, and an Italianate home built in 1881 with a summer kitchen in the narrow back yard. For more details and garden photos, please visit

Who wants to learn about Barn Owls?


Saving Ohio’s Barn Owls

June 23, 2014 at 10am Eastern

Ken Duren, Wildlife Biologist, ODNR Division of Wildlife

Barn owls were once very common in Ohio, but experienced drastic population declines. Now, their populations are starting to recover. Ken Duren with the Ohio Division of Wildlife will be discussing the interesting story of barn owls in Ohio. You will learn about the history of barn owls in Ohio, including why they declined, what was done to bring them back and what will be done to ensure their future in Ohio.


Never too late to learn

Ohio Invasive Plant Council Workshop – May 21, 2014

So You Know You Have Invasive Plants, Now What?”

OIPC along with several partners has announced a Workshop on Managing Invasives in Southeast Ohio to be held at Hocking Hills State Park Lodge (see this LINK for details). The Workshop will include Field Trips and Control Demonstrations (see this LINK for the Agenda). Attendance is limited to 100 participants. The $10 fee to cover lunch and materials will be collected the day of the workshop (only cash or checks please).
Registration will close on Monday, May 19, 2014.

Ohio State Training Alert – May 27, 2014

“Lyme Disease is Here: Now What?”

Twenty-four Ohio counties, including Butler County, have been labeled endemic for Lyme Disease.  It is  important to know how to identify ticks, prevent tick bites, and know what to do when you or someone you know has experienced a tick bite.  Cindy Meyer,  Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator and County Director, OSU Extension, Butler County, and the Buckeyes for Lyme Awareness have put together a very informative and timely program on Lyme Disease.  Participants will gain an understanding of tick biology, tick-borne diseases, prevention techniques, the impact of what Lyme disease can do to a person’s life, and proper tick ID. If you spend time outdoors, don’t miss this program! TIME:  12PM-1:30PM. LOCATION:  Ohio State University Extension, Butler County, 1802 Princeton Rd., Hamilton, OH 45036. Fee: $10. Registration Deadline: May 22; contact Cindy Meyer, 513-887-3722, Pay at the door or send check to: Ohio State University Extension, Butler County, 1802 Princeton Rd., Hamilton, OH 45036

Greene County Master Gardeners – June 5, 2014

“Pollinator-Friendly Spaces:
Practical Ways to Conserve, Attract and Protect Pollinators”

 If you are a gardener, grower, naturalists, or someone with an interest in pollinators please join Greene County Master Gardener Volunteers to discover the latest on pollinators, their health, their habits, their future and how you can support them.  Learn how you can attract, conserve and protect these important contributors to the preservation of our environment.

Denise Ellsworth, Program Director of Honeybee and Native Pollinator Education at The Ohio State University will be presenting “Pollinator-Friendly Spaces: Practical Ways to Conserve, Attract and Protect Pollinators” on Thursday, June 5th from 8:30 am-3:00 pm at Xenia Church of the Nazarene, 1204 W. Second St.

Additional information and registration forms are available at then “Master Gardener Upcoming Workshops and Classes”. Space is limited, register early.   This program also qualifies for Master Beekeeper Program Credits,  4 credit hours or 4.5 hours of MG CE . For more information contact Rebecca Morgann at 937-903-4801 or email

A peek in the nursery

Seedlings in the light garden

Seedlings in the light garden

It’s that time of the year when life bursts forth. Though a little later than normal, the daffodils are blooming – some are already done. My redbud’s buds are showing their lovely lilac hue. The red buckeye’s buds are unfurling. The last of the red oak’s leaves are stubbornly hanging on. Two weeks ago there were still loads of last year’s leaves left. Last week there were around 20 leaves…, only 3 remain.

Indoors, I have some seedlings popping up, reaching for the plant stand’s light. The most prized are the last of the Burpee Super Sauce tomato seeds I purchased last year. Though 2013 wasn’t a good tomato year the plants yielded quite a few ginormous sauce tomatoes allowing me to put up salsa for the winter. yum…….



Here…..birdie, birdie


Juvenile Bald Eagle

I love birdwatching. Anyone who has ridden in my car knows that I watch more than just the road. (Hubby doesn’t agree that this is a noteworthy skill….) I often do many a shout-out while driving when I spot a hawk, a flock of turkeys, a deer (live or dead and maybe even on the other side of the road, no less) or vehicles with unusual vanity plates – all while in the driver’s seat. I’m always on the alert. Just last week I noticed a larger than normal bird near a deer carcass off Nutt Road in Centerville. I HAD to stop in the middle of the road to try to get a photo. It turns out I spotted a juvenile bald eagle! Yippee!

Snowy Owl (photo by Roger Garber)

Snowy Owl (photo by Roger Garber)

Lately, I’ve been scanning the skies, barn roofs and pole tips for a glimpse of a Snowy Owl. Those familiar with Harry Potter movies or books will recognize that Harry’s pet owl, Hedwig, was a Snowy Owl. As of January 16, Jim McCormac of ODNR noted there have been 136 sightings in 46 Ohio counties. You can check out a map of the sightings HERENormally these majestic birds live in the arctic. But when their populations rise and/or the numbers of  their favorite meal (lemmings) drop, they may be found out of their normal range — something called an irruption.

All this just for a glimpse of a Snowy Owl (photo by Roger Garber)

All this just for a glimpse of a Snowy Owl (photo by Roger Garber)

They are quite large; the body is 20 to 28 in with a wingspan, 4.2 to 4.8 ft, yet they only weigh a wee 3.5 to 6.5 lbs! Birders near and far were all a-twitter when one was spotted in Washington Courthouse in Fayette County. They flocked, pun intended, toting spotting scopes, telescopic lenses and binoculars just to get a glimpse of this majestic creature. I did not get the opportunity to get there but my friend Roger Garber shared many photos on Facebook. Sadly, it was reported yesterday on the mailing list that the Washington Courthouse owl was found dead along side a road. I doubt I’ll ever find something so rare in my yard – though that doesn’t keep me from watching out for the unusual.


Downy Woodpecker

Ornithologists from Cornell University collect data from backyard scientists (like me) in a program called Project Feederwatch where surveys provide numbers and types of birds visiting bird feeders. Evidence is mounting that suggests that insectivorous birds like woodpeckers may be finding the emerald ash borer larvae a new and abundant food source. More food may mean more woodpeckers! My Downy Woodpeckers love this seed feeder (from Wildbirds Unlimited). I noticed (see how observant I am?) that the feeder is missing today. I’m going to lay blame on the DUMB SQUIRRELS! I’ll have to wait until the snow melts a bit to track it down…..

Be sure to occasionally check the EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES tab at the top of the page for upcoming events.


Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse

Visit Ohio Association of Garden Clubs, Inc.’s profile on Pinterest.