As winter finally starts to subside, our thoughts turn to gardening. But these thoughts can quickly become overwhelming – what should I plant? When? Where? Should I plant for birds? Butterflies? Wildlife? How do I make sure I’m not buying invasive species, and what are those, anyway? We’ve compiled a few resources to help you make all of those decisions!
Let’s start with the last question first: invasive species are non-native species that have the potential to harm the economy, environment, or human health. Invasive plants, in particular, often have the ability to grow very quickly, taking over areas dominated by native plants that local wildlife may rely on for food. This is important to keep in mind while planting your garden – gardening and home improvement stores may sell invasive plants, like English ivy or mile-a-minute weed. Learn more about common invasive plants at this website.
Luckily, there are lots of great resources online to help you figure out what you should plant!
If you’ve got an affinity for birds, check out Audubon’s Plants for Birds site. All you do is enter in your zipcode, pick which types of plants you want (trees, shrubs, perennials, etc.), and you’ll be presented with a list of native plants that suit your needs. You can even indicate which species of birds you’d like to attract. The Audubon site also has a lot of great resources about why to plant natives, caring for your plants, and making your yard bird-friendly.
The Xerces Society has a great list of native plants for pollinators in our region, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has a beautiful database you can search, as well. You can enter in your site’s light and moisture availability to buy plants that are more likely to survive! If you’re especially interested in milkweed for monarchs, the Xerces Society also has a native milkweed finder site.
On a snowy April Saturday, thirteen volunteers gathered at Siegel-Kline Kill Conservation Area to begin year two of our habitat restoration project, led by Master Gardener volunteers Tim Kennelty and Glenda Berman. Our task was to remove as much invasive Japanese honeysuckle along the roadside as we could in two hours.
Why were we working so hard to get rid of this plant? This invasive plant is bad for a number of reasons. Honeysuckle spreads rapidly, crowding out other native species that birds, pollinators, and other wildlife depend on for food. It is also suspected that honeysuckle produces a chemical in its roots that can make it hard for nearby plants to grow. While birds do eat the small berries honeysuckle produces, they are not the fat-nutrient rich food that birds need. A bird’s diet is much better served from native plants!
Volunteers cleared about 100 feet of honeysuckle along the roadside – what a difference! Once the honeysuckle has been removed, we will plant native trees and shrubs in their place, as part of our process of restoring native habitat at Siegel-Kline Kill. Thank you to all of the volunteers who came to help out!
If you want to join our next volunteer outing, please contact John Horton at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re interested in volunteering in another capacity (assisting at events, taking photos, maintaining trails), check out our Volunteer page to sign up.
In 2014, the CLC’s Farmer Landowner Match Program helped Mark and Miriam find landowners in Pine Plains to start their vegetable farm and fruit tree nursery, Full Circus Farm. The farm, still happily on that same piece of land, now grows organic produce to feed 40 to 50 local CSA families, as well as local markets and restaurants. They also supply fruit trees to gardeners and orchardists across the Hudson Valley.
Full Circus Farm is having a Spring Fruit Tree Sale on April 15th from 10am to 2pm. Their apple, pear and asian pear trees saplings and are certified organic and are both grafted and grown right on the farm. Mark and Miriam will donate 15% of their sales to CLC if you tell them you found them through us!
One of the exciting apple tree varieties they have this spring is Esopus Spitzenburg– an heirloom dessert apple that hails from the town of Esopus, right here in the Hudson Valley and it is rumored to have been Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple. In addition to fresh eating apples and pears, Mark and Miriam also grow apple varieties that are rich in tannins and ideal for pressing into hard cider.
Mark and Miriam use a team of draft horses to plow, spread compost and cultivate the soil. The horses are lighter on the land than a tractor, add fertility to the farm system, but most of all, they are just a joy to work with! Sandy and Sunshine, their pair of Haflinger ponies, are finally getting some exercise again now after a long and restful winter. They also have a small herd of cows, including a family dairy cow, and a small flock of hens.
Before the birds come back from their tropical vacations, and before many spring flowers have poked their heads through the cold ground, there’s a raucous party happening in the woods that you might not be aware of!
Some people may have heard a peep or two from their first spring peeper on one of the warmer days recently, or what they thought was a duck quacking back in the woods (probably a brave wood frog waking up). This is just a hint of what’s to come, though – what we’re really waiting for is the Big Night.
What’s Big Night? It’s the night (or several nights) when the conditions are right and mother nature gives the signal to some amphibians, like wood frogs, spring peepers, and mole salamanders to wake up from their frosty slumber in the leaf litter and get moving! In order to do so the conditions must be right: a warmish rainy evening when the temperatures are above 40 make for the perfect conditions for these sensitive critters to move. The frogs and salamanders often travel up to a half mile to get to woodland pools for breeding.
Some species, like the wood frogs and spotted salamanders, are dependent on very specialized temporary wetlands to breed in. These small wetlands are created when the winter thaw and the spring rains fill up depressions in the woods. Because these wetlands generally don’t have an inlet or an outlet, they do not support fish, so they are essentially little nurseries for the frogs and salamanders that are successful in making their way there to lay eggs.
Unfortunately, these habitats are often fragmented by roads, and it can be a dangerous expedition for these small amphibians to make. But you can help the frogs and salamanders by being a citizen science road crossing guard, with the Amphibian Migration and Road Crossing project! If you have seen a stretch of road where on a rainy night it looks like a wave of frogs coming out of the woods, please think about taking some time to stop and help these little critters safely find spring love! For more information on the project watch this video and contact John Horton for an informational packet.
Here are some other interesting tidbits:
- The male frogs are the ones making all the noise, trying to attract females to the pools
- Spring peepers are the smallest frog we have, at about an inch, yet the females can lay between 750-1500 eggs each year
- Wood frogs are typically between 1.5 to 3 inches in length, and lay up to 3000 eggs in a season
- Once they breed and lay their eggs they move back to the forest where they spend the majority of the rest of the year, you might be lucking enough to find a spring peeper hanging out in trees and shrubs or wood frogs and spotted salamanders might be found in the leaf litter or under a log
- In winter they dig down into the leaf litter or under logs and they have an anti-freeze like substance in their system which allows them to endure freezing winter temperatures
- The secretive spotted salamander, a 6-8 inch long dark grey salamander with bright yellow spots; these chubby creatures spend most of their adult lives underground in mixed hardwood forests, laying around 100 eggs.
Click here for more information, or join us for our Full Pink Moon Walk at Hand Hollow April 28!
Thank you to everyone that came out and made our 2018 Pancake Breakfast such a success!
It’s always such a treat to see our community of members come together to enjoy some great food and even better company. This year, the breakfast was made extra special – we announced the CLC’s Capital Campaign – Columbia County Tomorrow, an effort to raise at least $7 million dollars to bring our work to the next level. Over the last year, generous donors have already contributed over $6.5 million toward the campaign, so we are almost there!
The three main goals of the campaign are to make it possible for CLC to 1) act quickly to conserve critical parcels of land, 2) steward our 4,000-acre system of Public Conservation Areas to the highest standard, and 3) substantially expand our education and outreach programs.
If you’d like to learn more, please visit the campaign webpage. You can make a contribution online, by mail, or by giving us a call at 518.392.5252, ext. 202. Right now, your donation will be doubled, thanks to a pool of donors who have offered $175,000 toward a community match!
Once again, thank you to everyone that attended the Pancake Breakfast on Saturday! If you couldn’t make it, we hope to see you next year! We would like to extend special thanks to the following:
- Tri-form Camphill for hosting us and providing a wonderful performance by the bell choir
- Mara and everyone at Simons Catering for cooking up delicious and creative pancakes (10 different flavors!)
- The Mountain Laurel Band for delightful toe-tapping tunes!
The artworks in Christie Scheele‘s solo exhibition Atlas/Hudson River Valley takes the viewer on a walk through the Hudson River Valley’s open spaces from Albany south to Manhattan.
In this exhibition Scheele brings together paintings, drawings, printmaking and mixed media and explores the personal and collective connection between our lives today and our increasingly fragile environment. Scheele continues her immersion into open spacious landscape painting. Using soft lines Scheele allows the viewer to sense and experience a particular place in our local environment; the way the light makes you feel as it changes during the day, how a place has it’s own color palette reflecting memory and process. Scheele’s use of color and atmosphere creates a suspended moment to experience the intangible power of nature.
With each destination on the “Site Map” we are invited to take an intimate look at how process, history and memory play a crucial role in our relationship to our natural environment.
In an effort to support our local land conservation initiatives, artist Christie Scheele and Thompson Giroux Gallery pledge 5% of any sales by the artist during Atlas/Hudson River Valley on view March 31-May 6, 2018 to benefit the Columbia Land Conservancy and the Woodstock Land Conservancy.
Please join us Saturday March 31st from 4-6pm for refreshments and live music by Josh Connors & Otto Gardnier.
For more information please visit www.thompsongirouxgallery.com or call 518-392-3336.
Thompson Giroux Gallery is located at 57 Main Street, Chatham NY 12037.
CLC is looking for a Director of Development to lead its multi-faceted fundraising program, with a focus on major/planned giving. The position reports to the Executive Director and is responsible for creating and executing strategies for major/planned gifts, annual giving, donor stewardship and recognition, fundraising events, and special campaign initiatives.
The ideal candidate is self-directed, goal oriented, has exceptional interpersonal and communications skills, enjoys working independently and is eager to be a part of a committed, collaborative team.
Click here to read the full position announcement and apply.