April 22, 2024
Earth Day may be chilly but I am the only one who seems to care

By Mary Reid Barrow

Earth Day woke up chilly this morning and the sun is half-heartedly trying to shine but nature doesn’t stop to complain.

My wood poppies, or celandine poppies, are still exuding their yellow sap! Yes, yellow sap! These sweet natives with leaves shaped a little like oak leaves, bright yellow blooms like little poppy blooms, and their wonderful white hairy seed pods have yet another fun feature.

Not long ago when Chris Beach with Eco Gardens 757 was helping me with my yard, he broke off a wood poppy leaf and showed me the yellow sap oozing from the stem.

The sap is so  yellow that Native Americans used it as a dye. It will stain your hands!

I began thinking about such quirks in other native plants. Spiderwort, for one, has interesting sap too.

I thought maybe it was so named because its tangled looking leaves are reminiscent of a spider web. But no. “Spiderwort” is much more apt than that. Its clear sap dries into stringy “spider-webby” bits, much the way Gorilla Glue or rubber cement does. It really does! The clear sap dripped away, hardened a bit and as it stuck to my fingers, it stretched out into little strings. But I couldn’t get a good photo.

I am very happy that a wren pair didn’t take bets on a pretty Earth Day. They have taken up residence in the wren bottle on my front porch. The two are fussing and fussing and coming and going constantly feeding little ones.

My cat appreciates their Earth Day entertainment as she lies on the steps inside the house watching the birds’ every move through the window. Either the intrepid wrens don’t see her through the window or, more likely, they are saucy enough to believe they are keeping her at bay with their constant reprimands.

Earth Day’s chilly dawning doesn’t bother a male brown thrasher either. He has moved up from his low lying shrubby ground level comfort zone to sing high from the tree top, an effort he makes in spring to attract a mate.

His Earth Day serenade is only music for a female thrasher’s ears. You will know it right off. The incessant love song sounds like a dramatically off-key mockingbird.

I am looking forward to a follow-up celebration of Earth Day at the Plant and Seed Swap at LRNow’s office, 3712 Holland Road, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday. Sunny and warm is the forecast.

Tidewater Compost, a company that turns local food waste into compost will be there. I want to purchase a bag of rich natural fertilizer from them to give my native plants the treatment they deserve.

If you’d still like to pre-order a LRNow native plant of the month from Southern Branch Nursery for pickup at the Plant and Seed Swap, click here.

“Happy Earth Day,” says my wild geranium, who doesn’t let swings in the weather affect her pretty lavender-pink self!


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