Standing Still in 2018

These days, I feel like a single candle, cursing the darkness, both literal and figurative.
A Single Candle

The Anthropocene weighs heavy on my mind, and heart:

  • Global atmospheric CO2 (carbon dioxide) concentration has increased 30% in my lifetime, reaching levels that have not been seen for at least hundreds of thousands of years.
  • Global climate change is accelerating. We are seeing the effects in more extreme weather events. Our complex earth systems are driven toward chaotic respones by warmer termperatures, greater atmospheric moisture, destablizing air and ocean currents.
  • What fossil carbon we haven’t burned, we’ve converted to plastic, contaminating the deepest ocean trenches, and our food supply.
  • We are causing the Sixth Great Extinction of species, and life, on the planet.

Not only is there no political will to interrupt our collective psychosis, the kleptocrats insist on doubling and tripling down, forcing ever-wider disparities in wealth and income. As long as they get theirs before the final bell rings, screw everyone else.

Poor Persephone got off easy. She got to leave hell six months of the year.

Persephone with her pomegranate. Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Proserpine (Oil on canvas, 1874) – Tate Gallery, London

This season’s solstice (Winter in the Northern hemisphere, Summer in the Southern), occurs at 22:23 UTC, December 21, 17:23 Eastern Standard Time (UTC-05:00). Etymology: Latin solstitium (sol “sun” + stitium, from sistere “to stand still”)

The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, its apparent movement north or south comes to a standstill.
Solstice, Wikipedia

So we light a candle against the darkness, and try to keep it lit. If I’m feeling hopeful, I might reflect on these lyrics from Peter Gabriel’s song written in memory of Stephen Biko, who would have been 90 this past week:

You can blow out a candle
But you can’t blow out a fire.
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher.

Wishing for peace, wishing you peace, these dark days.

This page has a little MIDI file which bangs out the tune so you can follow the score.

Illumination of Earth by Sun at the southern solstice.

Related Content


Wikipedia: Solstice

Grief and Baking: Rolled Holiday Butter Cookies

Today is World AIDS Day. By coincidence, the 41st president also just died, reminding me – and the cohort of survivors from his dark reign – how many more of us died on his watch from inaction, and more active hatred.

It’s also my dad’s mortiversary, the 10th anniversary of his death.

As I did ten years ago, I turned to baking. In anticipation of our upcoming tree-trimming party, and a hoped-for cookie-decorating side activity, I chose a rolling cookie recipe from King Arthur Flour. Since I’m unfamiliar with this type of cookie, I stayed as close as I could to the original recipe.

Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018

I consider these a qualified success. There are some improvements I can make, mostly about technique. I’m happy with the basic recipe.


  • Confectioners’ sugar, 1-1/4 cups / 5-1/2 ounces (Their recipe gives 5 oz as the weight equivalent, but this is what my scale came up with)
  • Unsalted (“sweet”) butter, 18 tablespoons = 1 cup + 2 tablespoons, room temperature (I neglected to let mine come to room temperature, but with an electric mixer, it whipped up just fine, anyway)
  • Yolk of 1 large egg (reserve the white to brush the cookies and add decorative sugar before baking)
  • Salt, 1/2 teaspoon (I usually omit salt from my baking, but this was my first time with this recipe. The “Tips” section of their recipe suggests using 1 teaspoon when using unsalted butter. It wasn’t necessary.)
  • Flavoring:
    • Vanilla extract, 2-1/2 teaspoons
    • Lemon oil, 1/4 teaspoon
    • (I started with 2 teaspoons of vanilla. a taste test indicated it needed more assertive flavor, and a little something more than vanilla.)
    • (The original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of Fiori di Sicilia. I’ve never used that; I’ve only ever seen it in their recipes.)
  • White whole wheat flour, 2-3/4 cups / 11-1/2 ounces  (The original recipe calls for unbleached all-purpose flour)


  1. Whip the butter until it’s smooth and starts peaking. (If your butter is still cold, as mine was, slice it into small ~1/2T pats first.)
    Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018
  2. Gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar. Once combined, whip some more at high speed. (If you add all the sugar at once, you’ll get a cloud of sugar. I used a pouring shield to add it while the mixer was on slow speed and keep dust down.)
    Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018The batter after whipping together the butter and confectioner's sugar, Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018
  3. Separate one large egg. Add only the egg yolk to the batter. Beat it in until the batter is smooth. Keep the white refrigerated for the cookie-making.
    One large egg, separated, Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018Just the yolk added to the batter, before mixing, Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018
  4. Mix in your flavorings of choice.
    Flavorings for the cookies: 2-1/2 t vanilla extract (right), 1/4 t lemon oil (left), Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018
  5. Add the flour, mixing at slow-medium speeds until just smooth. If the dough is sticky to the touch, add a small amount of flour to adjust the texture. (Their recipe notes: “The mixture will seem dry at first, but will suddenly come together. If it doesn’t, dribble in a tablespoon of water.” This wasn’t a problem for my first time.)
    Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl. Wrap and chill the dough for at least 2 hours, or overnight. 

Preparation and Baking

Our kitchen is tiny, with no counter space. (Seriously: attentive readers may notice that the “counters” in the photos are the side-drain of our sink and the space between the burners on our stove.) Since I was doing this as a tech rehearsal for a party activity, I used our dining room table as the surface for setup and rolling. I rolled the dough out directly onto parchment paper for cutting and pre-decorating, then lifted the parchment directly onto the baking sheet.

Setup for rolling and pre-bake decoration, Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018

  1. “When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let it soften for about 20 to 30 minutes, until it feels soft enough to roll. It should still feel cold, but shouldn’t feel rock-hard.”
  2. “Sprinkle your rolling surface with flour, and flour your rolling pin. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it 1/8″ to 3/16″ thick.”

    Starting to roll out the dough, Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018

    Notes: I found rolling the dough evenly to be difficult. This resulted in uneven baking, both among the cookies, and even across the surface of larger cookies.

    The thicker cookies baked more evenly, and had a nicer “tooth” to them. The thinner cookies ended up more like crackers. I want to invest in some rolling pin rings to eliminate this variation, and get more professional looking cookies. With rolling pin rings, I can do some more precise experimentation with different thicknesses. I think 1/4″ cookies will end up being my favorite.

  3. Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes. Collect the trimmed dough for re-rolling. They won’t spread much in the oven, but leave 1/2″ between them so they don’t butt up against, or into, each other. (Most of the cookies I cut out in these photos were too close together. Lesson learned!
    Cutting cookies, Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018
    Cookies cut out, starting to trim the dough, Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018
  4. Optional Pre-bake Decoration: Mix 1 teaspoon of water into the egg white you reserved earlier. Brush cookies lightly with with the white-water mixture. Cover the cookies with coarse or colored sugars, edible glitter, etc. (I tried some peppermint crumble, but it wasn’t designed for baking; it all melted.)
    Cookies cut out, starting some pre-bake decoration, Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018
    Cookies prepped and transferred to the baking sheet, Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018
  5. Bake the cookies in a preheated 350°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes, until they’re set and barely browned around the edges.
  6. Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool right on the pan. If you’ve used parchment, you can lift cookies and parchment off the pan, so you can continue to use the pan as the cookies cool.
  7. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough, rolling, cutting, and baking cookies.

Related Content

Flickr photo set

Gerard Kreussling, 1931-2008
Grief and Baking: Peppermint Swirl Meringue Cookies, 2008-12-16
Some of my photos of my father [Flickr set]

Other recipes on this blog


Original recipe: King Arthur Flour

Extinct Plants of northern North America 2018

I’m limiting this list to northern North America for two reasons:

  1. Restricting this list geographically is in keeping with my specialization in plants native to northeastern North America.
  2. There are many more tropical plants, and plant extinctions, than I can manage; for example, Cuba alone has lost more plant species than I’ve listed on this blog post. 
If you have additions to this list, please let me know, and provide a link which I can research.
  • Astilbe crenatiloba, Roan Mountain false goat’s beard, Roan Mountain, Tennessee, 1885
  • Narthecium montanum, Appalachian Yellow Asphodel, East Flat Rock Bog, Henderson County, North Carolina, before 2004?
  • Neomacounia nitida, Macoun’s shining moss, Belleville, Ontario, 1864
  • Orbexilum macrophyllum, bigleaf scurfpea, Polk County, North Carolina, 1899
  • Orbexilum stipulatum, large-stipule leather-root, Falls-of-the-Ohio scurfpea, Rock Island, Falls of the Ohio, KY, 1881
  • Thismia americana, banded trinity, Lake Calumet, IL, 1916

Extinct in the wild (IUCN Red List code EW)

  • Franklinia alatamaha, Franklin Tree
  • Extinct versus Extirpated

    I often come across misuse of the word “extinct,” as in: native plant extinct in New York City.

    • “Extinct” means globally extinct. No living specimens exist anywhere in the world, not even in cultivation. 
    • “Extirpated” means locally extinct, while the species persists in other populations outside of the study area. To correct the above example: extirpated in New York City. Any regional Flora lists many extirpated species.

    When a species is known only from one original or remaining population, as those listed above were, loss of that population means extinction for the species. In this case, extirpation and extinction are the same thing.

    Another category is “extinct in the wild,” when the species still exists under cultivation, like an animal in a zoo. A famous example of this is Franklinia alatamaha.

    Related Content

    Extinct Plants of northern North America 2015, 2015-11-29
    Extinct Plants of northern North America, 2014-11-30


    Wikipedia: List of extinct plants: Americas
    IUCN Red List: List of species extinct in the wild
    The Sixth Extinction: Recent Plant Extinctions
    Extinct and Extirpated Plants from Oregon (PDF, 5 pp)

    Plant Blindness and Urban Ecology

    A small patch of biodiversity – i.e.: weeds – from my driveway.
    Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

    A recent article in the Wall Street Journal has people talking about it, e.g.: on the Twitter. The term “plant blindness” has been in use for a while, especially among those of us intensely interested in the subject of plants, from gardeners to botanists.

    “Apps” and Social Media

    I’ve seen folks get more interested in plants when they can reduce, or eliminate, the risk of being shamed by others for ignorance. (Which is nothing to be ashamed of, nor to shame others for. We all start out ignorant. Choosing to remain so, on the other hand …)

    I’ve been on BugGuide for a decade. This is an expert-curated Web site where you can upload observations of any insect – and many other arthropods – seen in Canada and the continental United States. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from the experts there, both professional and “amateur”, and continue to do so. However, it is curated; I’ve had many of my photos “Frass”‘d – trashed – because they did not meet someone’s standards for image quality. (“Frass” is caterpillar excrement.) So I can’t rely on BugGuide as a record of my observations, even for insects. Even so, I’ve often wished for the equivalent for plant identification.

    The widespread availability of handheld computers with visual processing capabilities – i.e. “smart” phones with cameras and displays – has given rise to applications such as PlantSnap to help people ID plant “on their own”, without having to ask others for help. I’ve not been impressed with the accuracy of such apps. And better alternatives are available.

    The rise of iNaturalist has been astonishing, and refreshing. Anyone can upload any observation of any living organism anywhere in the world. The technology behind iNaturalist is also a decade ahead of BugGuide. Geotagging and labels are automatically picked up, you can explore observations by region or place, or even just be exploring a map.

    Anyone can assist in identification. This community aspect raises it up to the level of social media. I know a lot of conventional garden plants; I can help those who don’t know a Rhododendron from a Hydrangea by identifying their observations. I may even be able to go back to the same plant to confirm what it is, using the geolocation. In this way, I’ve made more identifications of others’ observations, than observations of my own.

    Countering Plant Blindness in Urban Settings

    When I’m sharing my knowledge, informally or formally, I find that people welcome the opportunity to learn new ways of seeing. It could be discovering that there are different kinds of bees, or that an asteraceous “flower” like a daisy or sunflower is not a single bloom, but hundreds of flowers. I’ve yet to come across someone who wasn’t excited to learn something new about living things that have been there all the time, right around them, where they live, not in some distant, inaccessible “preserve”.

    We’ve had an unusually rainy year. The first half of this August gave us twice as much rain as the average month. A good time for the weeds; not so much for the gardeners.

    I’ve been joking that the weeds are so out of control that I should do a “Bio-Blitz” of my own driveway. And why not?! Let’s get started.

    Here is a small section, maybe 10 square feet in total, of the broken up concrete we call a driveway. How many different plants can you find in this photo? (Don’t worry, we’ll get some closer looks.) If, at first, your eyes glaze over and just see green, let’s practice. Are there any differences among all that green?

    • Is it all green? I see some yellow and brownish spots (aside from the leaves) in there.
    • Even among the green, is it all the same shade of green? Some is lighter, some darker. Maybe some has more yellow in it.
    • How about texture? Some seems coarse, some seems fine. Maybe those are different leaves, warranting closer inspection.

    Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

    Instead of looking down, let’s look from the side. Now we can see there are many different heights and shapes of the plants themselves (and more evidence of an inattentive Gardener). The field of green starts to distinguish itself into groups of vegetation, even individual plants.
    Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

    Let’s start to look at some groups. Let’s call them A, B, and C.

    Group A: How many different kinds of plants can you see in this photo?
    Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

    Group B: How about this one?
    Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

    Group C: Feeling confident? Let’s go back to the photo at the top of this post. How many different plant species are in this small patch, no more than two or three square feet in area?
    Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

    My answers:
    A: 2 (maybe 3): crab grass, and Euphorbia (might be two different species)
    B: 3, at least: The above two, plus Oxalis stricta, a native weed.
    C: 7, at least: The crab grass and Euphorbia, plus Viola sororia, a foxtail grass, horseweed, and two I’m going to iNaturalist to ID to species: an Acalypha, copperleaf, and the one with pretty little yellow flowers (seems like a Sonchus, a sow-thistle, but the flowers don’t look right).

    Now, I’m still a native plant gardener, and it is a driveway, not a garden bed. Once I’m done with my IDs, I’ll pull all the weeds. But knowing which weeds are native, and which are not, I can “edit” my weeds more selectively elsewhere in the garden, leaving the natives to pop up where they like, and reducing the competition from the non-native species. Thread by thread, I can weave ecological associations back into the landscape, even if it’s just a few square feet at a time.

    Related Content


    Rhododendron? Hydrangea? America Doesn’t Know Anymore, Douglas Belkin, Wall Street Journal, 2018-08-14 (PAYWALLED)

    NPILC 2018 – Speaker Notes and Handout

    2018-06-23: Updated with more links.

    Following is the outline, speaker notes, and references of my talk at this year’s Native Plants in the Landscape Conference. This was to have been published as a speaker handout for attendees, but it never made it to the conference Web site. So I’m publishing it here.

    This isn’t intended to stand alone. This post has many links to my blog posts and photos for further reading and viewing. And the presentation itself is available on Slideshare.

    About Me

    My New York City Gardens

    1981-1992: East Village, Manhattan
    Lesson: Buildings -> Shade
    1992-2002: Park Slope, Brooklyn
    Lesson: Concrete -> Containers
    2002-2005: Park Slope
    Lesson: Weeds and Invasives
    2005 to Present: Flatbush, Brooklyn
    Lessons: all of the above

    Genius Loci

    Geography is Destiny

    Long Island

    PLACE: Long Island Geography > NYC Eco-Regions > Flatbush


    NASA Landsat satellite global mosaic image of Long Island, New York


    Long Island

    Wisconsin Glaciation: ~21K years ago

    Bennington, J Bret, 2003. New observations on the glacial geomorphology of Long Island from a digital elevation model (DEM). Long Island Geologists Conference, Stony Brook, New York, April 2003.

    Rpm: Roanoke Point Moraine – North Fork
    Rm: Ronkonkoma Moraine – South Fork
    HHm: Harbor Hill Moraine – North Shore, into Brooklyn and Staten Island
    Kd: Kame Deltas

    Central Brooklyn

    The Wooded Plain

    “Flatbush”: Anglicization of old Dutch:
    • “vlachtebos” (vlacke bos, vladbos, flakkebos)
    Land use History:
    • Home of Lenape and Canarsie.
    • Dutch “settled” in early 1600s
    • Primarily used for agriculture: woodland -> pasture, meadow
    • Railways provided access from “the city” (Brooklyn) through “the country” (Flatbush) to beach resorts, e.g.: Coney Island
    • 1870s: Prospect Park
    • 1880s: Brooklyn Bridge
    • One of five townships consolidated into the City of Brooklyn (Kings County) in 1890s.
    • Last farms converted to residential in 1890s, early 1900s: pasture/meadow -> savannah
    • Excursion railways converted to commuter lines

    Ground Truth (My Neighborhood)

    My garden is located roughly ½ mile south of Prospect Lake.
    Landscape vernacular:
    • Mow&Blow
    • Green Death

    Ecological Regions (EcoRegions)

    In these maps, dashed lines are state boundaries.
    Bailey (Roman numerals for Levels) v. Omernik/EPA (3-digit #s + letters)
    Bailey: Levels I, II, and III

    Level I:
    8.0 Eastern Temperate Forests
    5.0 Northern Forests

    Level II:
    8.5 Mississippi Alluvial and Southeast USA Coastal Plains
    8.3 Southeastern USA Plains
    8.1 Mixed Wood Plains

    Level III:
    8.1.7/59: Northeastern Coastal Zone
    8.5.4/84: Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens
    8.3.1/64: Northern Piedmont

    Level IV (Omernik)

    My Garden

    Garden Where You Are
    Front yard
    2011 Garden Tours:
    • NYC Wildflower Week
    • Victorian Flatbush House (& Garden!) Tour

    Garden #4

    2009: Certificate in Horticulture, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    2011: National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat #141,173
    2012: Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat
    2017: NABA Butterfly Garden #2348 and Monarch Garden

    My Backyard Native Plant Garden

    The Front Yard

    I replaced most of the remaining front lawn in 2014.


    If you plant it, they will come


    Native Plants
    Species Acquisitions – “Plant More”
    Can you tell from this chart the first year I attended NPILC?!

    Insects in my Garden

    Cumulative count of my observations of insects in my garden

    Common Name
    # Species
    Butterflies, Moths, and Skippers

    Excludes many other arthropod groups, including other insect families not listed here, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, etc.
    1st BugGuide post: 2007! Neotibicen canicularis, dog-day/annual cicada
    Joined iNaturalist in 2013, but posted my first observation in 2017

    Allium triccocum, ramps

    Aquilegia canadensis, red columbine


    Aristolochia tomentosa, pipevine, Battus philenor, pipevine swallowtail

    Coccinella novemnotata, C9

    Glossary: Extirpated

    Coleomegilla usurps Coccinella as New York State Insect, 2006-06-23
    Coccinella novemnotata, nine-spotted lady beetle, aka “C9”, 2016-06-24

    1970: Coccinella novemnotata (C9) is the most common lady beetle species in the northeastern U.S.
    1980: Nominated as New York state insect.
    1980s: Begins rapidly declining. Speculation as to causes includes competition with introduced species, but no definitive answers have yet been found.
    1982: Last seen in New York state.
    1989: Designated NY State Insect, despite being apparently absent for 7 years.
    1992: Last seen in the eastern U.S.
    2000: The Lost Ladybug Project initiated as a citizen science project.
    2006-06-15: Bill 2005-A06247 passes the NY State Assembly to change the state insect from Coccinella novemnotata, extirpated from NY State, to Coleomegilla maculata.
    October 2006: C9 re-discovered in Virginia, first time it’s seen on the East Coast since 1992, 14 years.
    2011-07-30: C9 rediscovered on Long Island, first time seen in New York since 1982, 29 years.
    2016: Lost Ladybug Project launches program to re-introduce captively bred C9

    Gardening for Insects

    Stop using pesticides in the garden. Not just insecticides, but herbicides, fungicides, etc.
    Grow more native plants, and more varieties of them. Many insects feed on plants in their larval stages, e.g.: caterpillars, and can’t feed effectively on plants with which they haven’t co-evolved.
    A variety of native plant species also provides more flowers to provide nectar and pollen for adult insects. Choose plants that have clusters of small flowers, which will attract a larger diversity of insects than big, blowsy flowers.
    Leave piles of leaf litter, old logs and branches, standing dead stems of plants. These provide shelter for eggs, pupae, and adults.

    Colletes thoracicus, cellophane bee

    Dioprosopa clavata, four-speckled hoverfly

    Glossary: Adventive

    Heuchera ‘Caramel’

    • Native
    • Hybrid
    • Selection
    • Cultivar
    • Patent

    Plant Patent (PP) #15,560
    Sandrine Delabroye
    “The inventor discovered the new cultivar, ‘Caramel’ as a chance seedling in a cultivated nursery bed in Hantay, France, CT in 2003. Although the parentage is unknown, the characteristics of the new cultivar and the proximity of plants of Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’ (not patented) suggests that ‘Autumn Pride’ is a probable parent.”

    Impatiens capensis, orange jewelweed

    Volunteers and urban habitats – the “moist meadow”

    Oxalis stricta, yellow wood-sorrel

    What’s a “weed”?
    Other native weeds:
    • Acalypha virginica, Virginia Copperleaf, Virginia Threeseed Mercury
    • Ageratina altissima, white snakeroot
    • Amaranthus retroflexus, Redroot Pigweed (Amaranth)
    • Conyza canadensis (Erigeron canadensis), Horseweed
    • Erechtites hieraciifolius, American burnweed
    • Juncus tenuis, Slender Rush, Path Rush, Poverty Rush
    • Lepidium virginicum, Virginia pepperweed, peppergrass
    • Lobelia inflata, Indian tobacco, puke weed
    • Oxalis stricta, Upright Yellow Wood-Sorrel, Common Yellow Oxalis
    • Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed
    • Plantago rugelii, blackseed plantain
    • Solanum ptycanthum, Eastern Black Nightshade
    • Viola sororia, Common Blue Violet

    Pycnanthemum muticum, mountain-mint

    Pollinator magnet

    Sphecius speciosus, cicada killer

    Viburnum dentatum, arrowwood, Pyrrhalta viburni, Viburnum leaf beetle

    Yucca filamentosa, Adam’s needle, Carpophilus melanopterus, Yucca beetle

    Why Bother?

    Living (and Gardening) in the Anthropocene

    Population Urbanization
    Habitat Loss
    Globalization -> Invasive Species, Emergent Diseases
    Injustice and Inequity: Environmental, Economic, Social

    Climate Change

    2018 = 60th anniversary of the Keeling curve
    CO2 has increased by 32% IN MY LIFETIME
    65 people died in New York state, 44 of them in New York City, 8 in Brooklyn, as a result of Sandy.

    The Sixth Extinction

    Extinction Symbol
    Lost Species Day of Remembrance: November 30th
    Extinct Plant Species of Northern North America

    Defiance and Resistance

    Related Content

    Coleomegilla usurps Coccinella as New York State Insect, 2006-06-23
    Coccinella novemnotata, nine-spotted lady beetle, aka “C9”, 2016-06-24

    1st BugGuide post: 2007! Neotibicen canicularis, dog-day/annual cicada
    Joined iNaturalist in 2013, but posted my first observation in 2017

    Flickr: Insects in my Garden


    NPILC 2018 – Books

    I spoke this year at the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference at Millersville University in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The organizers asked speakers for a list of books we recommend.

    Just a few of the books for sale at the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference 2018

    This is my list, grouped roughly by category.


    Brian Capon, Botany for Gardeners, 3rd Edition
    2010, Timber Press
    Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-604690-95-8

    Steven B. Carroll and Steve D. Salt, Ecology for Gardeners
    2004, Timber Press
    Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-0-88192-611-8
    Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-604694-45-1

    James B. Nardi, Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners
    2007, The University of Chicago Press
    Paperback, ISBN-13 978-0-22656853-9

    See also: Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home


    Lauren Brown, Grasses: An Identification Guide
    1979, Houghton Mifflin Company
    Paperback, ISBN 0-395-62881-4
    C. Colston Burrell, Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants
    2006, Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guides
    Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-889538-74-7

    William Cullina, Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada
    2000, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-0-39596609-9

    Eric Lee-Mäder, Jarrod Fowler, Jillian Vento, Jennifer Hopwood, 100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive
    2016, The Xerces Society/Storey Publishing Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-61212-701-9

    Lawrence Newcomb, Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide: The classic field guide for quick identification of wildflowers, flowering shrubs, and vines
    1977, Little, Brown and CompanyPaperback, ISBN-13 978-0-316-60442-0
    Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal, and Joseph M. DiTomaso, Weeds of the Northeast
    1997, Cornell University Press
    Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-0-8014-3391-6
    Paperback, ISBN-13 978-0-8014-8334-9


    Eric Grissell, Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens
    2010, Timber Press
    Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-0-88192-988-1

    Heather Holm, Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants
    2014, Pollination Press
    Paperback, ISBN-13 978-0-9913563-0-0

    Eric Mader, Matthew Shepherd, Mace Vaughan, Scott Black, and Gretchen LeBuhn, Attracting Native Pollinators
    2011, The Xerces Society
    Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-60342695-4

    Paul H. Williams, Robbin W. Thorp, Leif L. Richardson, and Sheila R. Colla, Bumblebees of North America: An Identification Guide
    2014, Princeton University Press
    Paperback, ISBN-13 978-0-69115222-6

    The Xerces Society, Gardening for Butterflies
    2016, The Xerces Society
    Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-60469598-4


    Rick Darke & Doug Tallamy, The Living Landscape: Designing for beauty and biodiversity in the home garden
    2014, Timber Press
    Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-1-60469-408-6
    Kenneth I. Helphand, Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime 2006, Trinity University PressHardcover, ISBN-13 978-1-59534-021-4 Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-59534-045-0  
    Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, Planting in a Post-Wild World Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes
    2015, Timber Press Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-1-60649-553-3

    Douglas W. Tallamy & Rick Darke, Bringing Nature Home: How native plants sustain wildlife in our gardens
    Timber Press
    Hardcover, 2007, ISBN-13 978-0-88192-854-9

    Paperback, 2009, ISBN-13 978-0-88192-992-1

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    City Nature Challenge 2018

    Viola sororia, common blue violet, in the front yard, April 2018
    The “weedy” remnants of my front lawn, where Viola sororia, common blue violet, has taken charge. Easily overlooked, it seeds itself readily without any help from me (or any other gardener). Yet this species is native to New York City. It’s one of my iNaturalist observations from my garden for this year’s City Nature Challenge.

    Today, Sunday, April 29th, is day 3 of the global City Nature Challenge, which continues into tomorrow. Building on the explosive popularity of iNaturalist as a platform for observations, this gamified bioblitz pits cities against each other, to see which can identify more taxa of living species in a 96-hour period.

    NYC is currently is 6th place globally, and 4th nationally. There are still plenty of opportunities to join special events organized for New York City, with events in 4 of our 5 boroughs today, and more tomorrow.

    I wasn’t able to take part in yesterday’s festivities. This weekend, I have to get my garden ready for this season’s garden tours. Armed with only my phone, I kept an eye out for anything I might see, uncover, or unearth. I was rewarded.

    I came up with 16 observations yesterday. In addition to Viola sororia introduced at the top of the post, I observed:

    And not a vertebrate among them. There were plenty of birds, and the occasional squirrel, in the garden. I wouldn’t have been able to get close enough with my phone to any of them to get a decent photo.

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    Native Plant Acquisitions, Gowanus Canal Conservancy Plant Sale

    Today I made my way to my first Gowanus Canal Conservancy Native Plant Sale. Today is Earth Day 2018, and today’s sale was held at their nursery location, the Salt Lot where Second Avenue ends at the Gowanus Canal. They have two more sales this season. The next, on May 19th, conflicts with the NYC Wildflower Week tour of my garden.

    Gowanus Canal Conservancy Salt Lot entrance, April 2018

    A wide range of species are listed are available on their nursery page. Not all of them are still in stock. In compensation, they had other unlisted species available at today’s plant sale.

    I used their published list of species to make a shopping list, always a good idea when heading out to plant sales. I cross-checked their list for species that 1) I didn’t already have, and 2) were native to New York City. Since they list the Greenbelt Native Plant Center as a partner, I suspected many of their species would be NYC-local ecotypes. I made a few exceptions for cases where I have the species, but not a NYC-local ecotype, e.g.: Solidago sempervirens, seaside goldenrod.

    Partial Shopping list for Gowanus Canal Conservancy Native Plant Sale, April 2018

    I had the chance to speak with a few of their staff and volunteers, including Diana Gruberg, their Horticultural Manager for the whole operation. I was pleased when she confirmed that some 90% of their species originated with Greenbelt. They are now successfully propagating many of these species themselves, both vegetatively and from seed.

    Gowanus Canal Conservancy Native Plant Sale at the Salt Lot, April 2018

    Gowanus Canal Conservancy Native Plant Sale at the Salt Lot, April 2018

    Today’s acquisitions, listed alphabetically by botanical name:

    • Carex albicans, white-tinged sedge
    • Carex comosa, bristly sedge
    • Euthamia graminifolia, common flat-topped goldenrod
    • Juncus greenei, Greene’s rush
    • Monarda fistulosa, bee-balm
    • Oenothera biennis, common evening primrose
    • Quercus bicolor, swamp white oak
    • Schizachyrium littorale, dune blue-stem 
    • Solidago sempervirens, seaside goldenrod, N YC-local ecotype
    • Symphyotrichum ericoides. heath aster
    • Veronicastrum virginicum, Culver’s root

    I confirmed with Diana that the seaside goldenrod was propagated from a Greenbelt collection, so it’s a local ecotype. I don’t know for sure which of the others also are. Odds are good that it’s most, if not all, of them.

    Native Plant Acquisitions, Gowanus Canal Conservancy Plant Sale, April 2018

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