Strange tree sightings!

I passed this tree while driving down Stein Rd off Whitmore Lake Rd.  Creepiest looking apple tree I’ve ever seen. The resident told me that she had been informed that this was “the oldest” apple tree in Michigan by another passing forester. It’s not an impossible idea: the two “bottoms” of the tree are rooted, […]

Crazy worm on its way

The ecosystems of southern Michigan were worm-free until European settlers introduced them, along with the dandelions, queen-anne’s-lace, and a host of deadly diseases. I don’t know how prevalent earthworms worm before the last ice-age, but there were none left when the final glacier retreated 12 or so thousand years ago. If you think earthworms are […]

The Buzz of the Flueggea

You can hear it from most anywhere in the garden: the sound of honeybees going bonkers over the flowers of the Flueggea, perhaps the most obscure of the woody plants in my garden. I don’t recall where I got it. At the time it went under the name Securinega, and I don’t know what inspired […]

The Sad Story of Spruce Trees in Michigan

Spruce trees are the most problematic of all conifers in our landscape right now. There are so many factors contributing to their decline that it has become nearly impossible to tease them apart. New pathogens seem to be discovered annually, and the unusual weather conditions in recent years have further complicated everything. I will try […]

Surprise pawpaw in Ypsilanti

It was right there on Collegewood, right on the side of the road, a lush forest of flower-laden pawpaw stems. I have little doubt that these stems share a common root system, and therefore the whole thing should be considered a single plant. Often solitary pawpaws fail to produce fruit. But on this one there […]

Some close encounters in the April garden

Some pictures I took in April with my iPhone and lens attachment: Helleborus x hybrida, Corydalis solida, Iris reticulata         

Color in the garden a compensation for endless grey skies

Early April, we’ve hardly seen the sun all year, but at least there’s been rain, snow-drops, crocuses, reticulated irises, early hellebores and plenty more spring bulbs. And now the lawns are starting to green up. My Daphne mezereum hardly produced any flowers this spring, perhaps as a result of last year’s drought. But the vernal […]

February birdwatching: two new lifers!

Thanks to leads from other birders on the u-mich birders e-mail list, I have been inspired to make the best of this cold month by seeking out the unusual winged winter visitor. First the snow bunting: I had previously seen this species only once before, and that was in the famously frigid area near Eli, […]

Apple-scab disease on crabapple

Most crabapples look gorgeous in the early spring and go down-hill from there. As early as May one can see drap olive-colored spots developing on the leaves. By mid-August half of leaves may have dropped while the other half are shrunken, distorted, spotted, and downright ugly. The culprit is a ubiquitous fungus called apple scab. […]

Still crying over the ash trees

Ashes were long a tried-and-true workhorse as an urban shade tree until the introduction of the emerald ash borer circa 2000. Ashes have since been largely eliminated from the natural and landscaped environment in s.e. Michigan and much of the midwest. The introduction of EAB was truly an environmental disaster. Ashes are (or were!) part […]