Collaboration On Oldest Living Things


Wonders of life
All around us
Even below our feet
Letting go of what we know
To begin learning all the unknowns
Feeling that there is
More to life
Than we ever imagined

La Paz Group

Thanks to Jonathan Minard for the short film above presenting Rachel Sussman Carl Zimmer and Hans Ulrich Obrist, and the book that they collaborated on:

Since 2004 artist Rachel Sussman has been researching, working with biologists, and traveling all over the world to photograph continuously living organisms 2,000 years old and older. The work spans disciplines, continents, and millennia: it’s part art and part science, has an innate environmentalism, and is driven by existential inquiry. She begins at ‘year zero,’ and looks back from there, photographing the past in the present. Together, her portraits capture the living history of our planet – and what we stand to lose in the future.

View original post 415 more words

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold


DSC06144

Sometimes it is the the images and words of others
That are woven into ones’ own experience
Patterns are form
Never able to go back
A different view of the world
Beyond what any one person could live
Of good and bad, but hopefully never indifferent
Stepping over the thresholds
Knowing that one can never know all that is
Yet, maybe being able to see some things a little clearer

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside


DSC05969a

Thoughts and imagines inside
Expressed on paper
To be opened
To look inside
The hearts and minds shared
Transformed by each one’s own life
To the world that is out there
That not one can fully experience
It is the bits of each combined
That gives each of us a fuller life

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective


DSC05669a Click to enlarge

This winter I have taken two airplane trips to visit kids and as I looked out the window of the plane I was in awe of the beauty of the landscape with all of it changes and at the same time sadden by by our footprint in all of it’s environments.
As one stands on the ground you can’t always see the true impact we have had on natural wonders of a living earth, it takes that different perspective even though even flying is adding to the changes that are occurring.

DSC05756a Click to enlarge

From my perspective that is the problem – that of human dominance and our ability to take it all for our own needs; like a run away train without much thought of the future for us and all living things

DSC03058

My photos don’t do it judice, so I might recommend a book “Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air” for it is fascinating photos of America’s landscape

Designs on the Land Exploring America from the Air by Alex S. MacLean, Jean-Marc Besse, James Corner and Gilles A. Tiberghien
“Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air”
by Alex S. MacLean (Author) , Jean-Marc Besse (Author) , James Corner (Author) , Gilles A. Tiberghien (Author) , Alex MacLean (Author)

Weeds, Invasives and Books Part 2


antilandscaper

 

 

 

Sometime beyond 30,000 years ago the climate had changed, and the cold and ice advanced out of the arctic covering a large portions of North America, Europe, and Asia. The ice sheet was estimated to be a mile thick and with so much of the water of this planet frozen, the oceans were as much as 450 feet lower than they are today. As the ice sheet advanced to cover what we now call home, it had scraped and scoured the earth carrying soil particles, boulders and anything living in its’ path that couldn’t flee its’ approach. The areas south of the major ice sheets were what might be considered sub-arctic; a tundra and open boreal woodland with very little rain. Around 13,500 to 11,000 years ago the ice sheets receded and the flora that had managed to survive south started to advance north and grow in…

View original post 1,413 more words

Pillows and Cradles


DSC07230

Have you ever travelled thru the forest and have come upon the terrain that had pits and mounds that is sometimes referred to as pillows and cradles which is the result of a tree or trees being blown over by wind sometimes by thunderstorm microburst or straight line winds when the soil is saturated or hurricanes. The cradle is the depression caused by the roots torn out of the ground and the pillows is the soil around the roots that drop to the ground as the trunk and roots decay.

DSC03991a

This area of pillows and cradles might have been from 1938 hurricane that came thru New England and cradles have flatten out over the course time.

In areas where there is a few or more of pillows and cradles you can see if each are in the same direction this might indicate a single event or are they different directions which might mean different trees were blown over at different times with winds from different directions.

I might suggest an interesting book called “Reading the Forested Landscape – A Natural History of New England” by Tom Wessels published by The Countryman Press

51kuaxPyi9L__SX260_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_

In the book Tom Wessels has drawings of different forest scenes and then goes into discussions about what is there and indications of what it might have look like 100 years ago.Such as stone walls and rock piles which suggest that this land was once open farm land and if the walls were just large stones, it might have been pasture land. The rock piles or smaller stones pile on top of the walls would indicate that the land continually tilled for food production rather than for just livestock.

Onesies, Twosies and IPM


DSC05860

Sadly, this post isn’t about fashion, for when I created this title I learned that ‘onesies’ is also a garment that is wore by babies to adults, but opinions I leave to others
Let’s end this fashion scourge once and for all
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/11/anti-onesies-petition Onesies:
One Direction at Battersea, London, Britain - 08 Nov 2010

This about while I’m working or just wandering about taking pictures I come across something that I haven’t seen before or only on rare occasions. Many times I see something that I’m not sure what it is.
I try to click a picture to help me later ID it, which most times isn’t easy to do. I try to use Bug Guide.net as my first source, but I’ll say there are so many creatures out one can help stand in awe.

The lighting isn’t great, they’re on the under side of a leaf or it goes to ‘flight or fight’
For I’m sure a camera lens looks like something that wants to eat it. So trying to move slowly trying to do the best I can, only to learn after that the shot didn’t always come out that good.

???????????????????????????????

DSC04860a

I find one of something that is new to me, but I figure there has to be more of them, for as it is with almost all living things it’s a matter of surviving, thriving and reproducing.

DSC04858a

One has to wonder is it a beneficial or is it a pest and might that sometimes be a judgement call. For what if that what we consider a pest, might it be a beneficial to some other species’ as a food source or in other direct and indirect ways?

DSC03724

And when I see them are they associated with that plant, does it serve as its host plant or was it just by chance that it landed where it did?

IMG_1790

And if it might be a host plant, how is it that insect knew that it was there.

DSC04199a

We get excited when insects come to pollinate the flowers of our plants, but not that excited when they decide to chew on its’ leaves.

DSC04549a

This brings me to the last part of my tale that of IPM
“Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

The IPM approach can be applied to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as the home, garden, and workplace. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides. In contrast, organic food production applies many of the same concepts as IPM but limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources, as opposed to synthetic chemicals.” EPA

P1020592

Just because we find an unknown insect on our plants or leaves being eaten do we have to react to it? In the evolution of plants and other species hasn’t it been built in to each of their survival The interaction and dependence of each in ways we may not understand.

DSC05616

There are plenty of products out there that pretty much can kill anything – insects, fungus and plants, but is it that selective to kill only what we want and nothing else? What about those chemicals that remain after our targeted pest is removed?
And are we wreaking havoc on the whole ecosystems by introducing chemicals we surely don’t know what they are?

And the one thing I think we all need to understand is that “Life is a Buffet” and that it isn’t or should be only about “Us”

A book that might be of interest on the subject is “Bring Nature Home” by Douglas W. Tallamy published by Timber Press

Reading Glasses and Small Details


DSC03890

Reading glasses hang around my neck
And for what I do, it takes 10 pair make a season.

P1010680 Something drilled a hole in the blueberry flower

Reading glasses make it a challenge when trying to catch a picture of small details such as pollen in a flower,
or the hairs on a sweat bee’s back.

Parenthesis Lady Beetle (Hippodamia parenthesis)
Parenthesis Lady Beetle (Hippodamia parenthesis) on Aronia flower

And then what amazes me when I look at the pictures that I have tried to capture,
is that there is sometimes a even smaller detail discovered inside a small detail that I was hoping to get.

043 (2)ab
Something is eating the eggs on a red bud leaf

Now yes, I think I know what you’re thinking, “maybe stronger glasses might help”, certainly doing a better job of cleaning the ones I have would help.

056 (3)a
A platygastrid wasp guarding the stink bug eggs into which she had inserted her own eggs and will remain until her brood is hatched

Yet sometimes, it like following Alice’s white rabbit down into the rabbit hole to a world that is always around us, part of us that isn’t observed or is hard to see and to imagine if you could look even deeper into a world that can’t be seen, even with much stronger glasses.

???????????????????????????????
Cute little guy with fuzzy butt

P1020437
Ants in the flowers of an Enkianthus

P1020820

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mother is preparing dinner while the babies hatch

P1020342
Ants farming aphids for honey dew

I might recommend a book by David George Haskell called ” The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature ” where he spend a year studying one square meter of old growth forest floor in Tenn. You might enjoy it

61vp3F3HYlL__SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_

Weeds, Invasives and Books Part 1


???????????????????????????????

A design is put to paper, plants are installed, and the compost and mulch have been spread, the site cleaned up and the photos taken for the portfolio, and even as you walk away; a new design is coming into play. In that walk, one can look around at the surrounding area of your project and begin to see the future and it might even be from the pieces of root, rhizomes and seeds that are in the soil of your finished landscape. For as much as we might consider the project as neat, orderly and creative, it is also a matter of disturbance and a void from it previous state; when that space was filled and covered by the trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants that had found their niche over an extended period, but now it is an area of opportunities to be filled with new plants and usually they are the ones that have evolved to best move in before others can even spread their roots. From the first person who decided to grow something, first for food and then maybe for pleasure, it required that person to make room for it, by removing the vegetation that was already there and then had to ‘weed’ to keep the native plants from returning either by the seeds that were in the soil and that had gotten tilled up closer to the surface or by seed and root from the surrounding area wanting to take back its’ own.

???????????????????????????????

So what is a weed? The basic description of a weed is “Something that is growing where it isn’t wanted” pretty basic that can cover a lot of things, including people. An example might be milkweed Asclepias syriaca which when it grows in it’s native environment in meadows, fields and even along roadsides it might be considered a keystone species which is “a species whose very presence contributes to a diversity of life and whose extinction would consequently lead to the extinction of other forms of life” for the Monarch butterfly depends on milkweed in it’s migration north from Mexico as it lays its’ eggs on it, which then become the butterfly that continues the journey north. The butterfly in its’ larvae stage eats only on the milkweed plant which contains glycosides a toxic substance to other animal species, which protects the butterfly from being eaten by birds. Now if that milkweed has gotten into a garden bed, it certainly might be considered a weed, its’ habits such as its’ root structure that runs deep horizontally that when you try to remove the plant most times it breaks where it is connected to the root and even when the root are gotten, each root piece left behind can grow new shoots. When it is left to flower and go to seed it can produce 200 seeds per pod and each seed has silky hairs that help carry it in the wind where it may land where it is allowed to grow or settles in another bed to be regarded as another weed. Grass growing in the lawn is what is wanted and expected; grass growing in the landscape beds is a weed.

???????????????????????????????

In the book ‘My Weeds’ by Sara Stein the author of ‘Noah’s Garden’ who’s own definition of a weed is “ A weed is a plant that is not only in the wrong place, but intends to stay” In this book she covers wide range of subjects about weeds, including the botany of weeds. How does a section of root know how to grow new roots down and new shoots up? In another chapter she writes about the ‘succession of the landscape’ and observes that in the town where she lived; it had been 80% farm land and pastures until early part of the 1900’s and by the time she wrote the book 1988 most of land had become a mixed deciduous forest; for folks had stopped trying to maintain much of the land as farm or pasture and how that land when thru the succession of plant species reverted from open land to forest. First with annual and bi-annual weeds, crab grass and a mix of other pioneer weeds that spread their seeds far and wide. This was followed by tap rooting perennials such as burdock, curly dock, vetch and tough grasses. In a couple of years the shrubs moved in and pioneer tree species. Over the years, the maples, oak, beeches and hemlocks were filling the canopy over this once farmland.

P1010734

The natural landscape is one that is constantly changing; even when it reaches the climatic stage, for there will be natural disturbances that will allow for more changes. So as far as our landscaping goes, it may take days or weeks to design and install a landscape, but it takes so much more time after the fact to keep a landscape as it was intended, and the timing involved in weeding, before different plants have time to establish, set seed and spread their roots, and what plants may be growing off some where that can throw their seed into the mix. I know even working on landscapes I had installed over the years that I now have a more familiar relationship with the weeds that keep popping up than the plants that I had put in. Or to work next to a landscape that haven’t been maintained to see how fast the changes occur and all that wasn’t intended take a firm foothold and outcompete the installed plants. Then to watch when someone finally tries to deal with it, but doesn’t know what should or shouldn’t be there as part of original plan; the area usually gotten back under control is small and never stays that way for long.

???????????????????????????????

The thing about most plants we work with in landscaping and even those plants used in agriculture is that many of them are clones of plants who’s features and habits have been breed for what we might consider desirable, whether flower, form, fall color, fruit or has some pest or disease resistance and then they are produced asexually so that they have the same characteristics, the same genes. On the other hand weeds are uncultivated, an ever mixing of genes from one generation to the next; thou maybe there is some cultivation involved, for where a weed may stand proud, shallow rooting and takes a long time to go to seed, it may never make it to the next generation, it will be those that are not easy to get rid of that will survive and continue on to the next generation and then the next. So over the course of time, in the constant battle between farming, gardening and nature that we may have breed perennial vetches, red sorrels who’s roots were made to be snapped and then grow new stems again, or a dandelion that has a good size tap root, grows flat on the ground, and even when mowed or chewed it can produce a another flower in a day and go to seed by the next. So in the book  ‘Botany of Desire’ by Michael Pollen he writes about apples and the famous Johnny Appleseed, John Chapman who traveled around the mid- west planting apple seeds which according to Pollen, most folks had used the apples for hard cider rather an eating, from the original seeds, they produced new offspring, new varieties with each genetic mix, one apple with it’s 5 seeds each will become different variety of apple tree from that of the parent tree and each other, some may be better suited to that location, some may flower a little later than the last frost and produce fruit that was more desirable. Today, when we eat the fruit of a Delicious, a McIntosh or one of the other varieties they are each grown from grafted trees that came from that one original tree that had produced that particular fruit and any seedling from its’ fruit would be a totally different apple.

DSC07466

So for anyone who is trying to maintain the intended landscape; it is important to know the intended and the unintended, to understand the nature of a plants including ‘weeds’; their evolution for continued survival, such as how the move about, when they might set seed, what kind of roots they have and when best deal with them. One of the useful tools you might want to carry with you besides your trowel and cape cod weeder is the book  ‘Weeds of the Northeast’ by Richard Uva, Joseph Neal and Joseph Ditomaso, published by Comstock Publishing Assoc for the pictures are good, it shows what the plant looks like not just when it is flowering, good descriptions of plant habit, leaves, roots and seeds. It covers 299 weed species – moss to grass, herbaceous to woodies and trees that you are most likely to come across.

I’ll add one final thought that is when you compare the 299 species covered in this book with The Nature Conservancy/ National Park Services composite invasive, alien weed species list; 131 (43%) of those species are on both.

012 (2)