Thursday, June 14, 2012

Up On the Roof

Louise Clarke, Aerial Gardener

Tradescantia ohiensis

Ohio spiderwort is an eastern North American perennial that blooms from May through July on the arboretum’s intensive green roof. Remembering this as a shady resident of my mother’s garden, I was skeptical of its performance on a green roof.

Spiderwort has adapted to the roof’s sunny, hot and dry growing conditions with aplomb. Its three-petaled blue flowers last only one day, like miniature daylilies. It receives no special care, other than being cut back in mid-summer after its blooms are spent. With adequate moisture, it may provide a second flush of flowers for fall. In garden beds Tradescantia may grow to 3’, but its stature is reduced on the green roof due to less moisture and leaner soil.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Young Red-winged Blackbird at Morris Arboretum

Tracy Beerley, The McCausland Natural Areas Horticulturist
Colonies of red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) arrived at the Morris Arboretum in early Spring. Within the Arboretum the birds are most common in the wetland and floodplain area.

The female spends three to six days building a nest constructed with grasses, sedges, mosses, and lined with mud. A clutch of eggs are incubated by the female and typically hatch in eleven to twelve days, the young birds are ready to fledge the nest two weeks after hatching.

This young fledgling is trying out his legs and wings for the first time. A male red-winged blackbird is watching overhead. You can hear his alarm call as he warns possible predators. The alarm call and nesting in groups are traits that reduce the risk of individual predation by increasing the number of alert and vocal parents.
Femal Red-winged Blackbird. Photo credit: Ruth Pfeffer
Male Red-winged Blackbird. Take note of the distinct red shoulder patch on the male. Photo credit: Ruth Pfeffer

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Up On the Roof

Louise Clarke, Aerial Gardener
If you visited the Arboretum during Bloomfield Farm Day, perhaps you noticed these cheery yellow flowers along the lower edge of the intensive green roof.

The eastern prickly pear, Opuntia humifusa, or devil’s tongue, is a native cactus of eastern North America. The green stems are flattened into pads armed with fine spines that easily dislodge, having an affinity for passing ankles. Last year’s edible red fruits persist through spring where they contrast with this year’s lemon blooms. Requiring full sun and a well drained location, the prickly pear was planted on the lower edge of the roof to spare the horticulturists a sharp surprise when performing maintenance.