Down to Earth - by Madison Co. Master Gardeners

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From Their Point of View


April 2017

With spring’s arrival comes the arrival of many other visitors, like butterflies, migratory birds, frogs, and toads.  Their presence in our outdoor surroundings provides song, unexpected flashes of color, pollination, entertaining animal behavior, and pest control among many other things.  So, the challenge for this week is to critically examine your outdoor surroundings, especially the ones over which you have some control, and do the examination from the perspective of a famished pollinator, or exhausted migratory bird, or a toad musician looking to woo a mate.  Is there sustenance available, safety, or nesting habitat?
Gardeners, landowners, and policy makers have ample opportunity to sustain our seasonal visitors for generations to come.  We also have ample opportunity to threaten or eradicate our seasonal visitors.  Our actions pack a punch.  How are your outdoor surroundings doing?  Sustaining or eradicating?  Learning how to differentiate between the two when you have a choice to make takes effort, and that can seem overwhelming.  Opportunities to learn abound in the county, and most are free.  Several are either available 24/7 or are coming up in the near future.  Below are some examples.

  • Winterset Public Library screening of “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time.” Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 p.m., discussion to follow.
  • The Madison County Conservation Board invites you to join them on Friday, April 21, 9:00 a.m. at Middle River Park to do roadside cleanup on Clarke Tower Road.  Trash items are often harmful to animals and plants, and always unsightly for humans.  You’ll SEE the difference your time has made!
  • Madison Co. Master Gardeners and Winterset Library invite children to an Earth Day planting project at the Library on Saturday, April 22.  Register for the 30-minute morning slot of your choice at 515-462-1731.
  • For Lands Sake! and Winterset Parks and Recreation invite you to take a Walk in the Park on Saturday, April 22, from 11-1.  Meet at the Winterset City Park Arbor for a guided stroll from there to Clark Tower and back while finding wildflowers, listening to and spotting birds, noticing pollinators, networking with community, and enjoying the gifts of spring.  BYO picnicking after the walk is optional.
  • For Lands Sake! and the Winterset Library invite you to the last of a 4-session book discussion at the library.  “The Living Landscape:  Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden” by Darke and Tallamy is just the ticket for those tough-to-know choices mentioned above.  Conversation starts at 7 and is available to all:  green thumb or not; read-the-book or not.
  • Plant. Grow. Fly. and the Library host “Create a Butterfly Oasis!”  Jessie Lowry, Blank Park Zoo Conservation Manager, will share tips for creating an environment to sustain pollinators like bees and butterflies.  The project also maintains an excellent online and Facebook platform filled with information, supply sources, encouragement, and other resources to help you transform your surroundings into a healthy refuge for pollinators and their vital services.  This is your 24/7 option.
  • ISU Extension Madison County Office regularly provides programming, maintains a website, and provides extensive printed informational materials.  If you want a person to talk to, the staff can connect you to the right resource.

Take the challenge and examine your outdoor surroundings from different living creatures’ eyes.  Then, based upon your observations, learn what you need in order to act in a beneficial way for the living things amongst which we live and upon whom we depend, even if you don’t yet know HOW we depend upon them!  What we do matters, and not just on Earth Day Week.

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