It’s been a couple of months since the last installment of the Nearby Nature Project. We’ve enjoyed lots of hiking, biking, kayaking, birding and gardening. Summer has drawn to a close, and we’re well into fall. I hope you’ve found time to observe the changing of the leaves, or the cooler temperatures or some other aspect of Nature. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, perhaps you’ve seen leaves budding on trees or the song of migrating birds.
I still haven’t fully replaced X (formerly Twitter) when it comes to seeing a regular stream of articles and reports related to nearby nature. So I’m highlighting just a few things that have come to my attention over the past several weeks.
Not everyone’s onboard for “rewilding”
There have been a few news stories this summer about Ontario residents being ticketed by local by-law after joining no-mow May or even further rewilding their yards to support pollinators. That’s not just a Canadian thing. Apparently rewilding is a divisive topic in the UK, as well.
Honey bees get a lot of attention, but what about wild bees?
I learned a few things from this recent article in Knowable Magazine: 1) there are more honey bees on the planet today than at at time in history; 2) most of us don’t know that there are also wild bees; and 3) wild bees provide essential pollinating services for many crops – including coffee! Scientists believe wild bees are under threat, due to pesticides and monoculture practices. But they don’t have good information on how well each of the estimated 20,000 wild bee species are doing.
The good news? It’s easy to take action to support wild bee populations. Choose wildflowers for your balcony planter pots and flower beds. And minimize pesticide use in your yard. When we re-did our front yard flower beds this summer, the landscaping company couldn’t get over how many bees were on our speedwell plants. While we thinned them out, we kept several patches of the spiky purple flowers and the bees continued to visit for the rest of the summer.
Cultivating My Nature Connection
One of the books I mentioned in the August edition of Nearby Nature Project (NNP) is now available at my local library: Reconnection: Fixing our Broken Relationship with Nature by Miles Richardson. I’ll share my thoughts in an upcoming edition of NNP.
My Nearby Nature Project
I’m a happy gardener this year. One highlight? We harvested about 45 kg (100 lbs) of apples from our two little backyard trees. I gave some to neighbors, made an apple pie and put two large batches of applesauce in the freezer to enjoy this winter. I do need to make a note in my planner to prune our fruit trees this coming winter, so they don’t get too tall to pick from our little step ladder.
I tried two new vegetables this year – bok choy and broccoli. The first sowing of bok choy produced great results. But some kind of leaf-eating insect found the subsequent plantings so we didn’t get much after about mid-July. The sprouting broccoli produced excellent results. I’m still eating some of the broccoli leaves in my lunchtime salads – they’re pretty much like kale leaves.
The vegetable garden is finished and cleaned up, except for a big pot of herbs and a couple of broccoli plants. One bed has been spaded and is ready for planting all kinds of wildflower seeds that require cold and water stratification. I’ll transplant the seedlings into our front yard flower beds next spring to further support wild pollinators.
I know birds are migrating through the Bow Valley. But I’ve yet to see or hear flocks of geese, ducks or swans that typically mark the season. Despite fewer birds around, we’ve had several great sightings over the past 7 or 8 weeks, mainly while kayaking on Vermilion Lakes in Banff National Park…
Bald Eagles (one at Vermilion Lakes and one in Canmore)
Spruce Grouse on the trail to Taylor Lake
And a few others of note, including a Steller’s Jay along the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff; a dusky grouse at Lake O’Hara and a Wilson’s Warbler at Vermilion Lakes.
I don’t know about wild mushrooms and fungi, but we saw a wide variety while hiking during larch season.
We’re still enjoying quite a bit of fall color here in the Bow Valley. But there is also a bit of snow at higher elevations on the shady side of the valley. It’s a great time to head outside and take a few minutes to notice the changing of the seasons.