Leave the Leaves, Turn Out the Lights

Most people are aware of the global biodiversity crisis, the shocking declines of insects, birds, and other animals, yet many don’t connect it with life in our comfortable suburbs. Because everything is connected, what we do at home is more important than you might think. Anyone with a house and yard can take two actions that will immediately increase biodiversity by helping the creatures that share our neighborhoods: leave the leaves and turn out the lights.  I’ve never understood why sensible people would remove autumn leaves from under their trees and bushes, only to then pay good money to add mulch and fertilizer. Fallen leaves are nature’s combination fertilizer and mulch, full of exactly the nutrients trees and shrubs need. And regarding “messiness,” nobody walks through the forest preserves in autumn wishing someone would clear out all those darn fallen leaves. Those leaves are what make the outdoors comfortable for many animals, providing shelter, food, and habitat. Fireflies d

Something New to Do With Your Lilacs

In my opinion, every home gardener should join the USA National Phenology Network. What's that, you ask? The teacher in me wants to say "go to the website and find out," but I'll say something about it here. USA NPN is an organization that, among other things, is collecting data on plant phenology from citizen scientists. According to the site, "phenology is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, or phenophases, such as leafing and flowering of plants..."

Why are they doing this? To monitor changes possibly caused by global warming (or climate change, global weirding or climate disruption, as others call it). What you do is pick a plant or two from their list of over 200 species, observe it daily or weekly to record leafing out and blooming dates, and enter your data at the site on an incredibly simple-to-use form. Do this and you have just become a citizen scientist doing your part to study the effects of climate change.

Two lilacs happen to squat at the back of my yard next to the compost heap, overlooking the raspberries, rhubarb, oregano, and beebalm. It's high time they worked for their keep! So out I toddle on a fine, early spring day such as this one (sun and 58 degrees) and check them out. Today there were no leaves (late winter budstage), but there'll definitely be action within three days, with the weather this warm. On the way back I greet a red squirrel who is up on hind legs like a meercat facing the sun. Then indoors, about one minute on the computer, and I feel I've done the ecosystem a small good deed.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I think your lilacs are a good choice. They signal their changes pretty visibly, and getting near their lovely scent is a good thing for any reason.
MRG