Owls and evergreens

  I’m not much of a fan of winter but I do have a very soft spot for owls. I don’t think I need to explain why- you all get it. They’re flying sorcerers, the stuff of other worlds, the perfect (confounding!) union of lots of beauty and lots of deadly tools to dispatch little […]

Update From Ashokan High Point.

Posted by on Nov 8, 2015 in General, Hikes, The Catskills
Update From Ashokan High Point.

The dominant shrub of large parts of the Escarpment of the Catskills – its eastern flank facing the Hudson River Valley – is mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia.  There are good populations of mountain laurel in several places on the Escarpment, but probably the largest population is on Ashokan High Point, where mountain laurel covers most […]

Behold, the oak (and beech)

Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 in General

  Here we are, on the cusp of November. In the Catskills our leaves are long gone. The lurid striped maples and flaming ash last only a week or two up against mountain winds and cold nights that get colder quickly. Gaze out across a barren hillside and you will still see a colorful thing or […]

On the Preservation of the Grasslands.

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in General

A brilliant piece by Benjamin Vogt on our “least protected and most endangered ecosystem,” the grasslands, and how the decline of the monarch is just one component of a broader problem: the destruction of the entire prairie ecosystem in the middle of our nation. By 2100 the American Great Plains may lose 77% of its […]

Monarch Population Data.

Posted by on Mar 15, 2015 in General, Science

The website monarchwatch.org offers – among many other things – data on monarch populations year by year.  Since the monarchs overwinter in only a few areas, winter populations can be measured fairly accurately.  The bad news is that 2014-15 winter was the second-lowest population total ever recorded for monarchs, the monarchs covering 1.13 hectares of […]

Asclepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed.

Posted by on Aug 17, 2014 in Gardening, General, Plant Profile
Asclepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed.

It is a bit unfortunate that one of the best native plants for Catskill gardeners,  Asclepias incarnata, should have been given the name “swamp milkweed.”  I just tried to give away a couple of seedlings of swamp milkweed, and I was greeted with suspicion.  “Weed? Is the plant ugly?”  “No, it’s quite pretty.”  “Do I […]

Roseshell Azalea, or Pinxterblooms.

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Gardening, General, Plant Profile
Roseshell Azalea, or Pinxterblooms.

Now is the time to look for the one of the Catskills’ showiest shrubs, the Pinxterbloom Azalea, Rhododendron prinophyllum.  People who try to use common names for plants strictly will tell you that this plant is called Roseshell Azalea, and the Pinxter refers to Rhododendron periclymenoides, a similar but slightly more southern species.  But all […]

Sticky Little Leaves.

Posted by on Apr 6, 2014 in Gardening, General
Sticky Little Leaves.

Eastern Red Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, emerging from its winter slumber on Wildcat Mountain.  Spring is starting now in the mountains, as the earliest species are now beginning to wake up.  Columbines are important to the ecosystem as one of the first natural foods of arriving ruby-throated hummingbirds, and valuable in landscaping because as poisonous members […]

Residential Landscape and Ecological Restoration

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Gardening, General, Landscape, The Catskills

As a trained landscape architect, I have found my industry to be a tad much in the grey area when it comes to ecological restoration.  We are often not plants people.  We are also not often scientists.  We are often chained to desks working on drawings on drafting programs for long hours without a relationship […]

Winter Ferns in the Catskills.

Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in General
Winter Ferns in the Catskills.

If you thought your winter was hard, imagine living on top of a rock all winter, exposed to the wind the whole time. On top of this Catskill boulder we see Polypodium virginianum, rockcap fern, one of our evergreen ferns, and what looks like a very sad and droopy Dryopteris. Catskills Dryopteris species remain green […]