Besides acting as natural air conditioners and moisture regulators, gardens are becoming ever more important to the survival of creatures other than humans. ~Jane Powers
This weekend spring crept in to my garden. How do I know this? It is something that those who have a strong connection to their garden sense. We see snow rapidly receding daily with bulb growth peeking up. The cool air is finally warmed a bit by the penetrating sun even when it is barely 40 degrees outside. There is a small discernible change in the scent of the air as the smell of snow is gone with the smell of the soil is just beginning to niggle at my nose.
But one of the biggest signs is the critters, especially the birds. The noise is deafening with the constant honking of geese flying everywhere back and forth from the lake to the surrounding ponds and swamps. The choir of songbirds is a music that lifts my soul. Who was joining in this joyous song? Robins and cardinals whistling, red wings squawking and a whole host of others I could not discern yet. But they were here, singing welcome back to each other and to me.
So with spring’s arrival, it is a perfect time to start noticing the changes in the flora and fauna in the garden. A while back I read an interesting post from Donna Long’s wonderful blog, In Season, where she talks about how she uses the Junco and Shadbush to indicate seasonal changes in her garden. She goes on to explain that the study of these changes in plants and animals corresponding to seasons is part of phenology.
Phenology refers to key seasonal changes in plants and animals from year to year—such as flowering, emergence of insects and migration of birds—especially their timing and relationship with weather and climate.
Three years ago, I attempted to study the flora and fauna of my garden through the National Phenology Network (NPN). But I did not get as far as I would have liked as my garden was still coming into its own, and my time was limited.
Since my goal this year for the garden is to observe it in great detail, the reporting of my observations to the NPN seems perfect. The NPN site has changed since I first started using it, and is even more user friendly. The section where you make your observations is called, Nature’s Notebook. After registering, you are directed to your Observation Deck where you register the location from which you will be observing, choose the plants and animals you would like to observe, and download the forms to help you observe. There are so many plants and animals you can now observe depending on your state, and so many more native plants now. You can also choose to observe invasive and exotic plants and invasive animals. And if you so choose they have an app.
So what will I be using as my “indicators” of seasonal change in my garden this year?
- I have a native tree that I have admired every year that was left on the property when the land was developed-a silver maple. This tree will be my choice for my Tree Following posts for Lucy’s meme at Loose and Leafy. I will have more about this tree on Thursday in a Tree Following post.
- I also decided to follow the common and swamp milkweed patches, and the monarch that depends on them.
- Since I enjoy following the exploits of the green frogs and bull frogs that frequent my pond, they make a perfect choice.
- I love to observe birds who frequent the garden so I chose an American Robin and Eastern Bluebird. Both like to nest, feed and raise their young in my garden.
- Lastly I thought I would track one invasive species. The Cabbage White butterfly can always be found in my garden throughout 3 seasons so I thought it would be interesting to observe its habits.
You can see images of these “indicators” throughout the post. Run your cursor over the picture to see the name of the plant or critter.
I know these will not be the only observations I will be noting as I love to be involved in other projects such as Citizen Science projects through Cornell University. All of these projects help gather data for scientists who are studying these plants, animals and the environment.
My last job had me involved with tracking lots of data so I have become accustomed to keeping data to use when making decisions. And I want to compare the data from my garden each year to help make decisions and observation the patterns that can be found there. Currently I am keeping data on the weather, tracking the birds when they first appear in the garden, observing when the deer appear and what they are doing as well as observing the melting of the snow. I can’t wait to dig into this data and use it yearly and seasonally for comparison.
So do you make observations of or keep data from your garden or nature throughout the seasons? Do you join in any projects like Citizen Science or NPN?
Despite the gardener’s best intentions, nature will improvise. ~Michael P. Garofalo
Brooke@Creative Country Mom’s Web Garden has created a new meme just in time for spring. As she says:
Do check it out, and if you join in link back with love to Brooke’s blog. I will be joining in as much as possible.
Also do check out Donna Long’s blog, In Season, where she observes nature around her Philadelphia, PA home.
Next up on the blog: I will have a post on Thursday of the tree I am following, my wonderful Silver Maple. On Monday I will have an update of my garden from March with a Garden Journal post. What a cold month it has been with an amazing end.
I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.
I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. Next post is April 1st.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
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