Land of Opportunity!

Land of Opportunity!

So exciting! I started out to do some research for an art idea I have and in doing so I just discovered a new world! of opportunity at Google Earth!  When I realized I could be more specific in my search, this is where I found myself.  And then here!  Ok, now it’s your turn! The sky’s the limit!

Meanwhile, there’s been some progress dealing with the debris as a result of that microburst that landed a few trees in our yard.  Actually, I was told five good sized hardwood trees.  We found someone who wanted the wood to burn and he’s been coming to saw and haul a little at a time.  It’s a win-win situation.  He’s probably got enough wood there for the rest of his life and we are gaining our backyard back. (We do keep a wood stove in the cellar for occasional use but I have a hard time breathing with the wood dust.)  As the logs get hauled out I’ve been discovering some good stuff and some bad stuff, but we’ll focus on the GOOD STUFF!

Now, I know that the blackberry leaves print beautifully but I’m not so sure about the dewberry or the blueberry leaves.  Have you tried eco printing with them? I’ll be trying them out after I come home from Quilting By The Lake, which I’ve been packing for all week!

Nina Marie is there now!  Sad we are not there at the same time!


Beware of Invasive Plants

Beware of Invasive Plants

Although I’ve been a lifelong gardener, my interest and knowledge of plants has taken a new twist since becoming an eco dyer and printer. It turns out that many of the plants that I use in this practice are not native to the area I live in, but are from other countries far and wide, brought here mostly by means of trade, sometimes attaching themselves to ship ballasts or even as accidental migrants on the soles of our shoes.  Often the seeds or berries are ingested by birds who travel long distances before excreting those seeds in other countries. The wind then spreads them even further.

While I love having access to some of these plants, I’ve become more aware of the hazards of misusing these plants, even now, after they’ve been here for years, even centuries and and have become invasive species, sometimes threatening to eradicate our own native plant life.

Garlic mustard is only one example of a plant that threatens to do serious damage to our land as we know it.

I found this garlic mustard with little white flowers,  Alliaria petiolata, in my own backyard growing just in front of some tulips.

“Threats:  Garlic mustard is currently displacing native understory species in the forests of northeastern America and southern Canada.  Native wildflowers include spring beauty, wild ginger, bloodrot, Dutchman’s breeches, hepatica, toothwortsm, and trilliums.  It displaces native herbaceous species within 10 years of establishment.  Garlic mustard can invade undisturbed areas as well as disturbed areas.

Garlic mustard is also a threat to species that depend on the native understory species.  For example, the endangered Virginia white butterfly (Pieris virginiensis) uses toothworts as a food supply during the caterpillar stage.  Garlic mustard displaces toothworts, and is toxic to the eggs of the butterfly.  Similarly, the native American butterfly (Pieris napi aleracea) which commonly use native mustards as their host plants, tries to use garlic mustard, but their larvae die.”

I’ve always been an organic grower, but since becoming aware of the nature and extent of the invasion of “alien” species, I’ve begun to change my own bad habits that only serve to foster this danger to more protective ones that foster more environmental responsibility.  Change begins at home.

Possibly the most important thing I can do is to isolate these weeds as I pull them up (by the root of course!) .  I don’t just throw them in my compost pile now!  I first place them in a heavy black plastic bag, close the bag tightly and leave it in the sun to burn up within the bag. As these pile up, I will burn them before placing the ashes in with the compost.

I’d say that on this property, the biggest danger is posed by Oriental bittersweet
(Celastrus orbiculatus).  If you dig up the root, it’s very red.

Invasive Bittersweet
For more info and pictures on bittersweet go here, to the Forest Resource Center.

This week I’ve begun a project to landscape my front yard with native plants. This could take a few years. So far, so good!

A Way To Go
See my FB post for more details.

I’m sure you can guess that you’ll see more about this in coming posts!

Mid May – A Mixed Bag

Mid May – A Mixed Bag

The news is a mixed bag today:  bad news first.  The piece I made especially for the “Currents” art call did not get accepted.  Just shows to go ya!


But the other one I submitted was accepted and will be shown at The Brush Gallery in Lowell opening on August 7th.

Across The Pond

By the way, these are the ones that sold at the festival:

I’m working on four new ones at the moment; that is, after I do my gardening in the morning.  I divided up , replanted and gave away some Gayfeather (liatrus), Lily of the Valley and Euphorbus.  I also transplanted some Poppies- hope they all survive.

Linking Up with Nina Marie at Off The Wall Friday. Looks like there’s a lot going on over there today!