Sunday, October 17, 2021
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Garden Notes: Fall gardens

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A week ago an impressive dragonfly flight was swarming soundlessly over a wide, sunny up-Island lawn that would mostly qualify as a “Vineyard Lawn.” “Vineyard Lawn” is the education program of Vineyard Conservation Society...

Wild Side: The buzz on bumble bees

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Everybody knows what bumble bees are: big, hairy, black-and-yellow insects flitting from flower to flower. At least eight species occur on the Vineyard, with two others known from historical records and a couple others...

Garden Notes: Protecting the environment

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Last Monday’s spectacular harvest moon and the autumnal equinox have ushered in a new season to garden in. Photons diminish daily, nighttime temperatures drop, heavy dew falls most mornings, while daytimes can be surprisingly...

Wild Side: Fuzzy fly mystery

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A typical field season generates more questions than answers for me, producing a lamentable sense of backward progress: As the years go by, questions accumulate, and I feel like I know steadily less about...

September song, or silence?

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Late summer meadowsong, September’s insect chorus, is swelling. Its leitmotif surrounds us, day and night. Remove your earbuds and listen for it. Uncountable crickets and katydids whirr and chirp their way toward summer’s end. The...

Wild Side: Island bees

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Everybody has received the basic message about native bees: they are ecologically vital, and populations of at least some species have declined markedly, often without an obvious explanation. These are good reasons for learning...

Garden Notes: North and south

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Weather-titillation buildup? As I write, it looks as though New Orleans is headed for another fearful, Force 4 bashing. Simultaneous with this column’s appearance, H. Ida or its remnants may be tracking nearby us. Going...

Wild Side: Non-native earthworms

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A down-Island gardener just brought me a surprise: a pail of compost containing worms the gardener had correctly identified as Asian jumping worms, one of several species in the genus Amynthas that have become...

Garden Notes: Summer winds down

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“We’re in the countdown,” the frequent greeting heard around mid-August, “only two and a half weeks to go!” Summer is winding down, and for many here, not a minute too soon. Rudbeckias for late summer Some...

Wild Side: Cicada killer wasps

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The most common type of question I get in early August has to do with wasps: Big ones, sometimes described as frighteningly large, black and orange with white banding, often seen as “aggressive” because...

Garden Notes: Of phlox and floods

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The daytime sound of August, cicadas’ rattling crepitations, has filled the air in the last week or so. Their shed exoskeletons startle when found clinging to twigs and fencing. The evening meadowsong begins at...

Wild Side: Butterfly milkweed

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If there is a particular plant worthy of being named the Vineyard’s National Wildflower, it is surely butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa. It’s a plant everyone on the Vineyard has seen, and it’s one that...

Garden Notes: Pollination

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Bats and fireflies at dusk mean glorious high summer. Butterflies, lovers of sunlit places and warmth, are more numerous and noticeable now, especially the larger and more spectacular species. Hot and steamy days have arrived...

Wild Side: East Coast grasshoppers

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As interesting as I find grasshoppers to be, I have to admit that as a group, these are not particularly colorful insects. In keeping with the benefits of staying hidden while perched on stems...

Garden Notes: Heat on our minds

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We are lucky to be here. The Western part of North America baked in deadly, incendiary heat as the holiday weekend neared, with the death toll climbing into the high hundreds. On the Vineyard...

Wild Side: How long will it stay?

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The past couple of weeks have been fine ones for me, replete with interesting wildlife sightings and opportunities to explore new or inaccessible areas. It’s hard to pick one single discovery as the high...

Garden Notes: Pruning after blooming

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Gardeners are thrilled. This spring, the dazzling bloom on flowering plants and shrubs has been the best kind of gratification; fantastic really, and it is not finished yet. Late rhododendrons are still colorful, specimen...

Wild Side: Leafhoppers

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Insects are currently enjoying a moment of mostly positive media attention, thanks to the remarkable mass emergence of periodical cicadas in parts of the Eastern United States. As a bug-lover, I’m delighted to see...

Garden Notes: Loving the Rain

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We have gone neon green, and every other color too. Late spring is beloved for the peony, iris, poppy, and rose display. Is there anyone who whines, “Noooo, I don’t like this”? After a lengthy...

Wild Side: Breeding birds

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As the month of May winds down, the bird breeding season peaks. Here’s a report on the nesting activity in and around our yard in Oak Bluffs. The yard is a modest one, a scant...
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