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Earth Day is nearly upon us. Each year we pause on April 22nd to think about ecology, climate change, preservation—survival. This past year, people the world over have come together around the protection of our waters, taking up the chant "Water is Life." Now as we think about the health of our planet, I invite you to consider the way we "story" water, the earth, the sky, and all the natural beings in the universe. In The Truth About Stories Indigenous writer Tom King asks, "Do the stories we tell reflect the world as it truly is, or did we simply start off with the wrong story?"
During hot months, prairies come alive with phenomenal displays of wildflowers and the prairie restorations of the Rotary Centennial Arboretum at Riverside Park are, right now, in full bloom. There you can find this week’s wildflower: Prairie Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus).
With flowerheads that look like small, delicate daisies, prairie fleabane is a member of Asteraceae, the asters. Asteraceae is one of the two biggest families of plants in the world along with Orchidaceae, the orchids. Which family is bigger depends on who’s counting what as a species.
Some wildflowers grow modestly, a few delicate blossoms held a few inches off the ground. Then there are bold wildflowers like the Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum).
Waterleaf can’t wait for you to see it. Growing some two-feet tall, the waterleaf puts out showy balls of flowers. If you walk through Riverside Park on the right day in late spring, the whole park will be alive with this bushy wildflower.
If you asked someone to draw a flower, what would it look like? It would probably resemble a daisy, or maybe a tulip, right? What it wouldn’t look like is the strangely fleshy, three-pointed flower of Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense).
In that same drawing, the flower would probably be shown standing proudly erect, basking in the sunlight like the “day’s eye,” which incidentally is the origin of the word daisy. You probably wouldn’t draw a flower hidden under large leaves, slumping messily into the soil.
But wild ginger is not your typical flower. It doesn’t even have petals!
Spring is a glorious season in Wisconsin. After the snow melts but before the trees grow leaves, wildflowers cover the forest floors. Right here in the parks of Milwaukee, you can find a brilliant display of spring ephemerals, and one of the first to bloom here is Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata).
As our art exhibits enter their tenth year, Sally Duback, one of the founding members of our arts committee offers this reflection about the beginning and growth of the program.
Ten years ago, UEC board member Danni Gendelman convinced the board that it would be a good idea to host nature-related art exhibitions in the community room. In order to make this happen, she pulled together a small committee of Milwaukee area artists/arts professionals Barbara Manger, Sally Duback and Leon Travanti; and discussions began among them about how this could work.
Have you ever had the experience of turning a corner in a familiar neighborhood, and suddenly becoming alert to all sorts of buildings or natural features you had never noticed before? That's sort of what becoming a bird watcher has been like for me. I've walked along creeks and in woods my whole life, but it's only been within the last few years that I've truly been aware of my winged companions out there.
I attended the Fruit Tree Grafting Workshop at the Urban Ecology Center on Saturday, April 4th and I can tell you that it was awesome! I am always willing to learn more about Mother Earth and the bounty that she provides. I took this workshop with the objective of learning more about fruit trees and coming home with two of my very own, which I will be planting in my yard next year.
Here at the Urban Ecology Center, we love to celebrate different events, activities and programs offered throughout the year. To celebrate winter, we hosted several great outdoor programs, including excursions to Lapham Peak for cross country skiiing by candlelight. Not only were we excited about this program, but the attendees seemed to have a blast as well. One attendee, Dan, is a contributing member here at the Center who recently wrote a guest blog that reflects on his experience at this program. Read on to hear why Dan enjoyed this program due to its built-in sense of camaraderie.
Here at the Urban Ecology Center, we love to celebrate different events, activities and programs offered throughout the year. Back in November, we hosted our first ever Bluegrass Pie Swap, where attendees made and brought two pies: one to share and sample with the group, and one to swap with someone else to take home and enjoy. Not only were we excited about this program, but the attendees seemed to have a blast as well. One attendee, Shan, is a pie-enthusiast who recently wrote a guest blog that reflects on his experience at this program. Shan brought sweet potato pecan pie, which was voted fan favorite at the event! Read on to hear how Shan enjoyed this event due to the pie-loving sense of camaraderie, and enjoy Shan's very own pie recipe!