E.O. Wilson on pollinators

e o wilsonWashington Post reports on remarks made by sociobiologist and two-time Pulitzer prize winner E.O. Wilson as part of National Pollinator Week.

… Wilson was focused on putting self-absorbed Homo sapiens in some ecological context. If humans were to disappear — he doesn’t advocate this, for the record — the effects on the insect world would be minimal. “It’s unlikely a single insect species would go extinct except three forms of body and head lice,” he said. Close relatives of the parasites could still live on gorillas. The primal, complex web of life would continue “minus all the species we have pushed into extinction.” Ouch.

But reverse the tables, remove the insects, and what would happen? Wilson paints a Mad Max scenario, in which not only do the bees, flies, beetles, moths and butterflies disappear, but all the plants that rely on them to set fruit, nuts and seed vanish as well. No worries, you say, because two-thirds of the crops we eat are wind-pollinated. But insects, not earthworms, are the principal tillers of the soil, and without them this secret microbial universe in the soil would decline, too. Dwindling food sources and plunging human populations would bring out the beast in people, who would do what humans always do — kill each other. Wilson speaks of “an ecological dark age” where “the survivors would offer prayers for the return of weeds and bugs.”

That’s upbeat. Read the whole article. It’s short.

Sod sofa

sod sofa

Short article in the Ithaca Journal this week about construction of a sod sofa by Alex Lavallo, a former student in my friend Marcia’s Art of Horticulture class. Alex worked with a dozen middle-school-aged youth as part of the Ithaca Youth Bureau’s College Discovery Program.

Nice job gang!

living benchSpeaking of living furniture, I spotted this one over at Paradis Express. Delphine has been on fire over there. You don’t need to understand French to enjoy the fabulous images she posts there.

Late June walkaround

june panorama
Click on images for larger view. Plant IDs from memory. (Don’t hold me to them.)

In an email earlier this week, Hank over at Lake County pointed out that I haven’t posted many garden pictures lately, and he was wondering how things looked. Actually, I’ve taken tons of pictures this season. Pictures of plants I wanted to write about. Pictures I wanted to make points about. Most got downloaded, edited and PhotoShopped. But I just haven’t had time to take them any farther.

So last night I did a quick walkaround and took some long shots just to record the peri-solstice garden and refocus a little on the big picture and not the individual plants (and weeds). While I love individual plants, the long shots make me appreciate the overall feel of the place in ways that I sometimes forget when I’m actually in the space.

The upper garden (below). My lame rock garden is in the center of the lawn. Miscanthis floridulus that blocks the road is about half its mature height. Various shrubs in the border are starting to come along. I like the old saw, “The first year they sleep. The second year they creep. The third year they leap.” But between the rabbits and the deer, I have many second years when it comes to shrubs.

upper garden

Front bed on the north side of the house. Goatsbeard (Aruncus) along the fence by the driveway. (Wild grape and clematis winds through it.) White valerian flowers float above. Big swath of yellow from evening primrose. Spirea flowers provide a little purple.

front bed

Did I make these curves by design (below, left). Maybe. Blind sow gets an acorn every now and then. Alchemilla and lysimachia provide yellows to right of walk. Grays are lambsears (foreground) and artemisia (background). Plume poppy provides bulk behind porch with autumn clematis climbing pole. Adjacent green mass is a tangle of mint and wild asters. I can’t take credit for the borrowed scenery of marsh and woods in the back. This one is really worth clicking on to appreciate. Pergola (right) with bittersweet, spirea (foreground) and Persicaria (background).

walk viewpergola

Blue bottle bed featuring scotch thistle, burdock, ornamental grasses, verbascum, phlomis, lots more.

blue bottle bed

The dry bed. Artemisia, verbascums, alliums (some flowering, some old), lots of cacti and succuents — hardy and tender — in pots and troughs.

dry bed

Veggie garden (yeah, I use a lot of garlic) and water garden (needs some work).

veggie gardenwater garden

The wet garden. Low spot stays wet most summers. Tradescantia, lysimachia, filipendula, turtlehead, willows, hibiscus, monarda, veronicastrum. It’s pretty plain now, especially since the tradescantia closes up in the evening. But this will be the most spectacular part of the garden before long.

wet garden

My goal is that someday my garden will look as good as the borrowed scenery I have as a backdrop.