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January 17 Bits and Pieces
January 17, 2011

(Iced over Plaster Creek.)

The weather continues to dominate conversations everywhere.

49 of 50 states reported snow on the ground this past week, including Hawaii in the mountains (Florida being the exception).

Still, we haven't recorded 25 inches of total snow in my part of Southwest Michigan, while other parts of the state are talking feet of snow.

Of course Canada is well,................. White Canada, where many regions embrace the snow.

Ah yes, global warming.

What the so called experts fail to mention is that earth is one big, wonderful, living planet.

Yes, even weather patterns are continuously changing and human activity has little to do with that.

Sure stripping the lands play a factor on weather patterns, but not to the extreme they want you and me to believe.

Of course we have acid rain in some locations.

Not to mention the polluting of our land and waters that affect all of our wildlife and us.


Jet streams, High and Low pressures are always on the move and this constantly effects temperatures as well as the rain and snow amounts.

Warmer or cooler waters of the Oceans and even the Great Lakes play a factor in our weather from year to year.

Even the direction the wind is blowing will change the weather.

Carbon foot prints?

I wrote on Carbon a while back and how we need it for our trees to survive and for plants to produce fruits.

Plant a tree and save the planet.

Well, trees are carbon based as is all of nature.

All those leaves we use in compost are mostly carbon.

All that wonderful carbon to enrich the soil and gases as they decompose that go back into the atmosphere.

Go figure.

I'll have to do another letter on this topic sometime in the near future.

You can do the research.

Okay, I'm stepping down from my orange crate for now.

Notice the spots on this Mourning dove.

Like finger prints, no two doves will have the same markings.

They may be ever so slightly different, but no two are the same.

You will notice a few slight difference in the pictures above.

If you have the time or desire to do so, you can take pictures of some of your doves and compare.

If you are observant, you will begin to notice if regulars appear at your feeders or when a newbie visits.

You will also discover this to be the case with other birds like the white markings on Blue jays and the markings on Rose-breasted grosbeaks as well.

If you didn't know that, you now know a little something that most people aren't aware of.

Isn't life and learning fun?

Walking on Thin Ice.

You've heard that saying before and possibly it has been said to you once or twice.

Be careful, you're walking on thin ice, or trouble is on the way if you continue down that path.

The pictures to your right was taken at the local pond on January 8.

We had a warm up for New Years eve and New Years Day with rain and temperatures in the 50's

Temperatures dropped again, but the integrity of the ice was fractured and filled with air pockets and bubbles creating many flaws.

A new layer of snow made things even more difficult.

Notice the tracks and where this small creature continued to fall through the stressed ice as it made its way across the pond.

The second picture is where a larger creature (probably a deer fell through).

I have no idea if it escaped or met a watery death.

I mention this as a warning to you, your loved ones and your fir kids to be cautious
around frozen water.

It is also one of 'Nature's' small ways to keep populations in check and to add to the food chain.

So here we sit in the dead of winter and you are chomping at the bit.

Like me, you are longing to get outside and smell the earth.

Yet, gardens don't have to be a total bore this time of year.

Most of you are looking at a white or brown barren yard and gardens.

A bland landscape.

(Hopefully filled with feeding birds.)

It doesn't have to be, and this is a great time to envision some color, texture or depth in your landscape for next winter.

You may know by now, that I really enjoy native grasses.

Yes, some of these have good ornamental value in the growing season and in the dead of winter.

Some grasses grow to eight feet while others as short as several inches.

Many grasses grow in between.

There are native grasses for just about any location and yard throughout North America.

Even some of the coldest regions of Canada.

Grasses offer depth and texture, especially in the dead of winter.

They offer food and protection for your wild birds as well.

You're not into grasses?

How about a few shrubs or small trees?

Red and yellow twigged dogwoods offer year round appeal to any landscape as the colors contrast with the white snow.

They also feed feed the birds from mid summer to autumn.

Deciduous Winter holly and Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum) produce small fruits that will last much of the winter if the birds don't eat them first.

Small trees like Shag bark maple add to most landscapes.

If you have a moist area or can offer water, River birch and White birch also year round joy, as well as offering food and protection for certain birds.

In large areas, Sycamore and Sweet gum trees offer up attractive bark.

Sycamore with its multiple colored patch work bark and Gum trees provide a cork looking feature on young branches (much like Burning bushes).

Shag bark hickory also has an interesting structured bark that gives the tree its name.

There are several native shrubs and trees that offer year round appeal.

If you have a small location that you want to show off or make for great conversation, there are several native culivars and dwarfs that make wonderful focal points in any landscape.

You may consider Harry Lauder's walking stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') a native of Europe, but interesting in the gardens and a conversation piece for sure.

Take the time now while the gardens are bare and plan out a location.

Draw your gardens on paper and where you might place an ornamental grass, shrub or small tree.

Be sure to make your sketch with the plant as a full grown specimen (giving it room to grow).

You can always move perennials and fill temporary voids with annuals.

Just some humble thoughts for you.

One last thing...........

If you plan on growing perennials from seed, get them planted now.

By May, they should be 4 inch pot size
and ready to plant (once hardened off).

Some species of perennials will also ready to bloom the first year when started early enough.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

Until next time.

God Bless.

"There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle."

George Chopra, author

A created and controlled universe. Not one mistake (though we like to think otherwise).

You were created and for a special reason and with special gifts.

Don't think so................................

Read on.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalms 139:13-16 (New International Version)

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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