The beauty of Bark, Flowers, and Leaves: spiders and flame throwers

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The beauty of Bark, Flowers, and Leaves

By NEILMUIR1
April 25, 2010

As spring unfolds its true majesty, we gasp at the beauty of spring flowers and rightly so. But there are also some wonderful delights to see in plants, in their bark or in the colour and texture of their leaves.

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Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia (Zone 7a)
Question authority, guide in wisdom
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Lance
Apr 28, 2010 9:36 AM CST
It is good to see you writing articles - almost like a family reunion on this site.
Good article, and with some interesting photos to go with it.
I always encourage people to look at more than just the flowers, and have a collection of photos showing the beauty of the winter garden, especially the old seed heads that can be covered with snow and ice. This also provides a refuge for a lot of beneficial critters for the following year. Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) is one of my favorite bark trees, with its multi-colored peeling bark, huge leaves, and fuzzy seed heads with flying seeds. Although I do not recommend planting it close to a house, as it is also a weak wood.
Spiders are very good floaters, and are typically one of the first critters to colonize a site that has been wiped out by volcanoes or other disasters. Their silken parachutes seem to be able to catch almost any breeze, and off they go. During the summer, I can see myriads of their streamers as they let out their silk in the wind - it is quite fun to watch. They will also let out their silk until it hits something else, and then walk on over to the other side, which is one of the ways orb weavers work. I am not a spider expert, though, so maybe someone else can add a bit more.
I also have a flame thrower, and although it can be quite fun to torch those weeds to a crisp, I have read the proper way to use them is to just wilt the leaves. That way, especially on a hot and sunny day, the ruptured cells continue to leak water, and the roots dry up trying to pump water to the almost fried leaves.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: United Kingdom
Ferns Native Plants and Wildflowers Seed Starter Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters The WITWIT Badge
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NEILMUIR1
Apr 28, 2010 10:36 AM CST
Dear Lance, thank you for your comments! I agree because most people look for flowers and the more coloured and garish the better, whereas the simple things can be just as beautiful in their own right.
Unfortunately the normal Sycamore is a pest here as; it is not native and of course seeds itself prolifically here in the rich fertile soils the some native trees like, especially English oak or Quercus robur. This endemic tree supports untold insects and other beneficial wildlife. Oaks can be slow from an Acorn, whereas Sycamores are not from seed, so they tend to easily take over to the determent of our own native species. One of or endemic beetles, our Stag beetle Lucanus cervus is the largest insect in Europe and unfortunately once a common sight is now becoming rare. Mostly due to Habitat loss, but this species loves oak, especially dead wood or rotting stumps. Most gardeners clear these up and developers certainly do not want them, nowhere for the larva to live for the 3-5 years they need to last but a little time as adults. If an oak sheds dead wood or dies the ground it is quickly taken by Sycamores, not good.
Funnily enough with Stag beetles, everyone is scared of them for the male has huge jaws like a Stags antlers, but they cannot bite at all and are harmless. It is the females with their small jaws that can inflict pain, we all know about that! They are called May bugs or Doodle Bugs over here as you can see the big males in flight.
As for spiders, I love them too but do not really not know enough about them (species wise), apart from they are most welcome in my garden.
As for the Flamethrower I agree with burning Annual weeds off with a light touch, but as for the perennial weeds that get in the paving cracks and non planted areas, by giving them a good heating it kills the roots. Mine can be turned down to an almost welding torch flame, so therefore gives out a lot of heat and that is what it says in the destructions and seems to work.
Nice of you to pop in, I do appreciate it.
My Kindest Regards.
Neil.



Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia (Zone 7a)
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Image
Lance
Apr 28, 2010 11:42 AM CST
Amazing how a plant that is beneficial in one area can be such a problem in another. I am a big proponent of planting using what is native to that area, as there are many wonderful plants to choose from that require a whole lot less care and cause fewer problems. Sycamores provide food for a number of critters on this side of the water, including goldfinches. Whereas many plants from England, such as Luminaria, are a bit invasive around here. It is also interesting to note how a shift in one area can quickly emanate to the rest of the ecosystem, causing unforeseen changes.
It seems a bit more thought should be practiced before moving plants and critters all around the world.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: United Kingdom
Ferns Native Plants and Wildflowers Seed Starter Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters The WITWIT Badge
Image
NEILMUIR1
Apr 28, 2010 11:48 AM CST
Dear Lance, yes like Grey squirrels and north American Crayfish, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed, amongst untold others!
My Foreman told me "Don't play God with Nature,' I do believe he was correct.
Regards.
Neil.

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