Category Archives: GENERAL INTEREST

GardenWalk South Euclid

As part of its summer long Centennial Celebration, the City of South Euclid will host GardenWalk South Euclid on Saturday, July 22nd, and Sunday, July 23rd, from 12 noon to 4:00 pm. It will serve as an annual legacy to the Centennial Celebration. The GardenWalk was co-founded by Northern Ohio Perennial Society members, Donna M. Zachary and Sue Gold, and the planning was started in the fall of 2015. Over 35 private gardens, three pocket parks (a Meditation Garden, a Tranquility garden and a Perennial Reflection Garden), a 21 acre nature preserve (hourly tours), 7 mile wetlands and over nine unique community gardens are on the GardenWalk. One community garden contains a bio-retention water basin and two are located in park settings. All can be explored during this “free, self-guided”, two day event. The city’s theme, “Come Together and Thrive,” can be seen in the many shops and restaurants along the garden route. After July 1st, the maps can be downloaded at www.cityofsoutheuclid.com or www.facebook/southeuclid.com. Maps will also be available at the South Euclid Community Center and the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Library after July 1st. During the GardenWalk, on July 22nd and 23rd, the maps, rest rooms, water and parking will be available at the Community Center at 1370 Victory Drive, South Euclid 44121 from 12 noon until 4:00 PM.

Mache, the fairytale lettuce 

by Ann McCulloh, contributing editor

Once, upon a time, there was a little plant that slept all summer, sprouted in the fall, and grew green and contented underneath the snow. Come the warm spring sun it flowered, scattered its seed freely and went to sleep until cool weather woke it up again. The lucky princess in whose garden it flourished, never had to plant it, or do much of anything but give it a bed of straw, and pick it for salads in the dark days of winter.

Mache (aka lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, Rapunzel, doucette, Nussler) is the most familiar name for Valeriana locusta, a delicate and delicious salad green that really does follow this topsy-turvy, through-the looking-glass schedule. I first planted the seed in springtime, in 2012, I think. It came up, promptly flowered

then went to seed, and I proceeded to forget all about it until the next September, when little green rosettes started poking through my straw mulch.

I kept an eye on it as it stayed green and grew a bit, while frosts became more prevalent. Then the first snow fell, and I assumed the worst. Sometime the next January I ventured out to the garden patch and noticed the green rosettes looked spritely. And larger. I pushed away some snow and clipped a few of them.

Mache (pronounced mahsh) has a delicate, nutty or even floral, flavor that invites dressing with walnut or hazelnut oil and sherry vinegar. It’s compatible with most anything. The French, who probably grow the most mache commercially, often dress it with hazelnut oil and vinegar, pair it with endive, frisee, thinly-sliced radishes or beets, and chop hardboiled egg or ham over it. The 4” spoon-shaped leaves have a spinach-like texture that holds onto just the right amount of vinaigrette.  I like it with orange segments, avocado slices, citrus dressing and a sprinkle of violets! Cooked briefly like spinach, it makes a decent omelet filling. Nice in a sandwich wrap, too!

Citrus Dressing for Winter/Spring Mache Salad:

1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons balsamic or other good vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive, hazelnut or avocado oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

It’s surprising that self-sowing mache hasn’t caught on more widely with gardeners and gourmets in this country. For me, it is the closest thing to an effortless garden crop. But best of all, I can harvest tasty garden-fresh greens from January through April, and I haven’t bought a packet of seeds since that first purchase in 2012.

Mache

corn salad, lamb’s lettuce, Rapunzel salad (Valeriana locusta) Doucette, raiponce, Nussler

Europe, Africa, Western Asia

Specialty of Nantes

Vitamin C, B6, beta-carotene, iron, potassium, copper manganese

More iron than spinach

Delicate flavor, nutty or even floral, to me. Dress with walnut oil and sherry vinegar or a mustard dressing

Orange and avocado with orange dressing

Roasted beets and endive or frisee

Mix with other salad greens

Rosette of tender, spoonshaped leaves

Tiny whole plants, add a delicate crunch

Can be cooked like spinach and used to stuff omelets or pastry

Tea sandwich filling, with thinly sliced radishes

Lazy gardener alert

Germinates when soils are 55 to 68 degrees, sun, moist soil, mulch

Young plants sprout in September, remain green and succulent all winter under light straw mulch, really burgeon in March and April, start to bloom in May and seed themselves prolifically in June. Seed lies dormant until cooler fall weather. Then the cycle restarts.

Look Before You LEAP

by Elsa Johnson

(That’s supposed to be a joke — and it’s not even April)

One of my favorite organizations, which works out of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, is LEAP, which stands for (take a deep breathe to get you through) Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity. What is LEAP? you ask:  It is a collaborative umbrella organization bringing together a collection of regional environmental organizations falling within the ecoregion of the Lake Erie Allegheny Plateau. The list of collaborating entities is long and includes, as you would expect, our many local park districts as well as some not-so-local park districts, local and national conservancies, our natural history museum, the EPA, and more.

There are monthly meetings (10 AM second Wednesday of the month) with speakers. One recent talk was on building Chimney swift houses to provide homes for breeding chimney swift pairs: swifts are great consumers of mosquitos (Gardenopolis Cleveland plans to do an article on this soon). Another recent talk was on what kind of coyotes we have around here – which was timely, as there has been so much public talk recently about sightings of what people take to be coy-wolves. A recent long email sequence in Nextdoor Coventry went on — and on —  and on – and on, all from one sighting of what the sighter was convinced was a wolf (be assured, it wasn’t). This LEAP talk clarified the issue through pie charts that showed the genetics of various coyote  populations in the Eastern United States, and was able to  clarify what combination of genes we actually have right here (that too will make its way into Gardenopolis, someday soon).   

What is the The Lake Erie Allegheny Plateau? It is an ecoregion that includes almost everything on the United States side of Lake Erie that is in Lake Erie’s watershed, and somewhat beyond it, encompassing the Lake Plain and glaciated lands south of Canada from Sandusky Bay all the way to western New York. This area has a common glacial history and a climate that is influenced by Lake Erie. As a natural history museum visitor what this means to you is that in a place like the museum’s Perkin’s Garden and Wildlife Center, you can expect to see the plants and animals that are representative of this ecoregion.

Also, the LEAP Native Plant Committee puts out a yearly postcard of native plants which lists one tree, one shrub, and one perennial, and offers designing-with-native-plants workshops. Look for this in another coming soon Gardenopolis posting.

LEAP puts out a very handsome little booklet that tells about LEAP’s mission to conserve and protect our ecoregion from threats such as habitat destruction, destructive alterations to various physical processes (such as groundwater hydrology, and lake and stream levels) and destructive alteration to species interactions, especially via competitive pressure from invasive, non-native species. Garlic mustard and its effect on the West Virginia White Butterfly leaps (sorry – couldn’t resist) immediately to mind. And more. Some copies of this booklet, and the native plants for the year postcard, will be available at the Permaculture Potluck (see last week’s blog) on April 2nd .

My favorite part of the booklet is the breakout with description of our ecoregion’s fourteen natural communities — which are diverse and beautiful — and where you can find them. Climate change threatens many of our community ecosystems. We are seeing outbreaks of oak wilt and insect pests in some of our old growth oak forests, such as at Forest Hill Park, where the red oaks are being decimated by oak wilt

and two-lined chestnut borer, the latter of which is also affecting other oaks such as Chestnut oaks.

For more information about LEAP and our native community ecosystems go to www.leapbio.org.   

Reminder: it is garlic mustard season. This is what it looks like.

garlic mustard. It is an invasive species. If you find it in your yard, pull it. It’s edible. One of us likes to put it in his breakfast scrambled eggs.          

Are Trees Sentient Beings?

by Elsa Johnson

In an interview for Yale Environment 360, German forester Peter Wohlleben answers “Certainly”. And no, he doesn’t look like an Ent. Wohlleben argues that trees are wonderful beings with innate adaptability, intelligence, and the capacity to communicate with, and heal, other trees. How did he come to this Enti-ish belief?

As a forester, he says, he was trained to look at trees as economic commodities (I cannot resist an aside here: to wit — our culture does not value things unless they are commodities), but after joining an agency for a community beech forest in Hummel, Germany, he became disillusioned. He began to see the use of traditional commodity forestry – clear cutting, and chemical use, for example – as putting short term profits ahead of sustainability. Now he manages the forest completely differently. Distressed by these traditional forest management practices, he re-thought his position because he was someone who wanted to protect nature, and he was being asked to destroy it.

Gradually he learned that the individuals of a species actually work together and cooperate with one another. In his book The Secret Life of Trees, Wohlleben writes about how trees are sophisticated organisms that live in families. He uses the term “mother tree” to describe a tree that is at the center of an interconnected web of roots, that can distinguish whether the root it encounters is its own root, the root of another species, or the roots of its own species (this is crudely verified on our local level by our experience with the same species trees in Forest Hill Park succumbing to disease while different species trees close by survive it ). Wohlleben describes how trees pass electrical signals through the bark and into the roots, and from there into the fungi networks in the soil, and thus alert nearby trees to dangers such as insects, or disease. Trees can also learn he says, citing the example of trees that in the year after a drought took up less water in the spring so that more remained available in the soil later in the season.

Sometimes accused of anthropomorphizing trees, Wohlleben says “We humans are emotional animals. We feel things. We don’t just know the world intellectually. So I use words of emotion to connect with people’s experience.” And: “We have been viewing nature like a machine. This is a pity because trees are badly misunderstood.” And: “Nobody thinks about the inner life of trees, the feelings of these wonderful living beings.” And: “Plants process information just as animals do, but for the most part they do this much more slowly. Is life in the slow lane worth less than life on the fast track?”

Wohlleben offers the evidence that trees growing in undisturbed natural forest can beneficially affect climate change by reducing temperatures and helping the soil retain moisture under their vast canopy. Conversely, climate change adversely affects trees less densely planted, as in common practice in tree plantations. The extra CO2 in the air today is making young trees grow about 30%  faster than they did decades ago. The faster growth exhausts trees and makes them less healthy. Trees growing in undisturbed natural forest fare better, says Peter Wohlleben. They grow more closely together, causing humidity to rise, cooling the forest and helping soil retain moisture.

Ah, he loves his trees so much — maybe he is an Ent after all.

If you would like to read more of the interview with Peter Wohlleben, go to YALE ENVIRONMENT 360. The issue is 16 November, 2016. Yale 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting, and debate on global environmental issues, written by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, and policy makers (etc.). It is published by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The view and opinions expressed are those of the authors and not the school. 

   

  

Dreaming of Spring? The Peripatetic Gardener Reports on Her Travels

by Lois Rose

Cornell is located at the bottom of Lake Cayuga-far above the waters, right? It is approximately five and a half hours from Cleveland, a lovely drive if you take the cut off of 90 through the Southern Tier—mountains, valleys, rivers and streams—well worth it.

The campus contains a large number of gardens but my favorite is the Botanic Garden which includes ornamental and useful herbs, interesting vegetables, perennials, grasses, an amazing bioswale garden, containers and other displays of shrubs, trees, groundcovers.

Many of the herbs are displayed in raised beds, or elevated on the sides of the main garden.

 

Around every turn is something of interest, like the tree which has a hole cut in its middle, still living and producing huge leaves.(Catalpa I think). 

The drought over the months before we visited had taken a toll but there was still much to see.  Mediterranean plants, those that love the heat, were as happy as a clam in high water. 

Others had ostensibly succumbed and been replaced.  It takes several hours to really see everything in this space, including the containers crammed with diverse and unusual plants on display near the visitor’s center which incidentally has top notch merchandise much of it devoted to gardening.

Cornell is feverish on Saturday morning, and visiting the Farmer’s Market is a treat if you can find a place to park.

Reprise – Citizen Science in Forest Hill Park

by Elsa Johnson

Last summer Gardenopolis Cleveland wrote about a project in Forest Hill Park undertaken by the Great Meadow Task Force for the East Cleveland Parks Association. The task force inventoried all the old growth trees (about 70 trees) in the park’s most iconic space, the Great Meadow, and with the help of Dr. David Roberts, a tree pathologist from Michigan University, arrived at the conclusion that the trees in the meadow are largely healthy and in good shape. However, as the summer wore on, it became clear that a group of 5 chestnut oaks about midway along the south perimeter access trail were showing signs of distress, with one clearly past saving.

How quickly this happened! It was shocking. The task force decided to invite Dr. Roberts back for a look at these trees, and at the trees in the area called the Meadow Vista, north across Forest Hill Boulevard. 

1022161110a

Chestnut oak is an oak in the white oak group, native to the eastern United States, and an important ridgetop tree of the Appalachian mountain range chain, with a sparser outlier population in our northeastern Ohio foothills. Since most of us have never seen a chestnut leaf it will help to tell you that a single individual leaf somewhat resembles a beech leaf, but with small lobes, rather than fine dentations, and these gather together in a cluster.

Peeling back the bark on the dead chestnut oak tree revealed the grubs of two-lined chestnut-borers at about chest height.

1022161109-1

The borer starts its damage to the tree’s vascular system at the top of the tree, and works its way down. If only a few branches are affected presumably the tree could be saved, but when one finds the grubs at the base, the tree is definitely not salvageable. It is dead and should be removed and chipped (which kills the larvae). This borer is a serious insect pest of chestnut, white, black, red, scarlet, and bur oaks. Preventative treatment is possible, but treatment after a tree shows clear signs of decline is unlikely to save it.

Alas, this does not bode well for the park’s mostly oak forest. To prevent spread of this opportunistic insect in the Great Meadow (were there the funds to do so) these trees need to be gotten out of there.

slide1

Then we all regrouped in the Meadow Vista, which has been suffering tree loss for a longer period of time than the Great Meadow; here many trees are diseased and dying. Examination of more recently dead trees here revealed chestnut borers in every affected tree. However, what Dr. Roberts was looking for was evidence of fungal pressure pads under the bark of dead and dying trees. He strongly suspected oak wilt here, based on the infection pattern he was seeing, with dead and diseased trees spreading in an ever widening ring from a center. And although we never did find pressure pads, but found lots of two-lined chestnut borer larvae, he remained concerned that oak wilt was also an issue here.

Oak wilt is an equally (or more) devastating diagnosis for our trees in the Meadow Vista. Where it might be manageable in the Great Meadow (were there the funds for treatment) in the more closely knit environment of the Meadow Vista and surrounding woods, management quickly becomes impossible as individual trees give way to densely packed forest… for oak wilt travels through the soil via the interconnected roots of same-species trees (i.e., red oak to red oak), and kills the vascular systems of trees through the soil, from the soil up. In an oak opening or savannah with some considerable distance between trees, one can cut trenches, severing the root systems, thus preventing spread. But where trees grow close together and the disease is manifesting in several locations, severing interconnected root systems is almost impossible.

The only good thing about oak wilt, and this is a very, very small thing, is that the white oak group succumb less often and less quickly than red oaks – and, indeed in Meadow Vista, all the affected trees are red oaks. Again, infected trees should be removed, chipped, and then covered for the year it takes to make sure the fungus is no longer viable.

What is the cause of so much disease? As I meet and talk with people in Cleveland Heights I discover other areas where oak trees have been lost to disease, or where there is failure to thrive. Is it stressed biological environments? How does a summer like the one we had in 2016 contribute to diseases like these? How do we plan a forest for the future? Another article will look at these questions.    

Children’s Learning Gardens in Cleveland

by Elsa Johnson

Are we officially in winter yet? The Acanthus mollis in my garden has yet to wilt, telling me we have not yet had a freeze hard enough to kill back it or its cousin Acanthus spinosa.

At any rate, back a month or so ago when it was officially and gloriously fall – Gardenopolis co-editors Tom Gibson and I joined a bus tour given by the Cleveland Association of Young Children. The tour would take us to four locations where we would be looking at both indoor and outdoor learning environments for young children. Firm believers in exposing children to nature at a very young age, we are interested in children’s outdoor learning environments. We wanted to see what is out there.

The tour started at the Music School Settlement, that impressive powerhouse educational resource located in University Circle, that lies cheek to jowl with Case Western Reserve University. The Music School Settlement, founded in 1912, is one of the oldest community music schools in the country, providing music education and arts-related programs to students of all ages regardless of their ability to pay. We were touring specifically the Center for Early Childhood’s classrooms and its outdoor learning environments : an Outdoor Classroom, and a Learning Garden.

When the children visit the outdoor classroom they are split into groups that rotate around 3 to 7 areas, participating in facilitator-led experiments at each of the areas. The areas include a water pump; stepping stones or tree stumps, a dirt pile, a sand pile, a paved track, a grassy hill, and planters. Nothing is very elaborate. The number of areas visited and experiments conducted depend on the interest and engagement of the students. An example of a planned activity is the water faucet where the children operate the pump to fill various size containers with water, count the number and sizes of various containers and cooperate to empty smaller containers into larger containers.

1112160913bStudents are also allowed time to freely explore the environment. There is an art ledge which the children may paint with colored water.

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There is nothing in this outdoor classroom that a group of enthusiastic volunteers could not build, with the exception of the circular paved pathway that connects all the learning stations.

music-school-raised-bed

The outdoor Learning Garden, located on the footprint of a Victory Garden has numerous small beds for learning about and growing both annuals and perennial plants like Jerusalem artichoke. There is an herb spiral. There is a composter.

Our next stop was the Nature Center at Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation – South. Here, of course, the entire outdoors is a classroom and an adventure, so there is less constructed outdoors specifically for early childhood education. There are indoor classrooms, and extensive nature learning programing. What is new – just installed – is a new food forest located at the front of the building in its stunning location below a high escarpment, right alongside the Rocky river.

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 Our next stop was Parma Preschool. The outdoor space here seemed to combine some aspects of a playground (the moving bridge) and many of the aspects we saw at the Music School Settlement (water play/exploration area, planting beds, a place to paint), all of it condensed into a relatively small space. There was a certain appeal to that density. 

1112161256 1112161259a

Our last stop was the campus and school of the Urban Community School. Unfortunately, by the time we got there my battery had expired, so I have no pictures to share with you. I can only tell you that this inner city, near west side school run by Catholic nuns is a very nice place indeed. Their learning garden, wherein one finds many of the elements found at the Music School Settlement, is by far the most glamorous, and obviously professionally designed and executed.  There is a willow withe tunnel to surpass all other withe tunnels, an amphitheater, a hoop house (like a greenhouse but enclosed by plastic), and raised beds. It is beautiful. There is also a tall fence all the way around it and you need a key to get in.        

       

Villanelle for Garlic Mustard

by Don Abbot aka The Snarky Gardener

garlic_mustard_flowering
I fell in love with an uncommon weed

Garlic Mustard is the way she’s known by some

Though others name her an invasive breed

Immigrants concealed in their coats her seed

America bound via boats they’ve come.

I fell in love with their uncommon weed.

During spring I gather, harvest, and bleed,

Loading bags until my hands are numb.

And people dub her an invasive breed!

In times when skies are dry and there’s great need

Gardeners grow her without a green thumb

I fell in love with this uncommon weed

Abundance and charity are my creed

This strong herb fills many stomachs with yum,

Though experts term her an invasive breed

Prepare pesto with her bounty, I plead!

For us, many a meal she will become

I fell in love with my uncommon weed

Because they call her an invasive breed.

Pawpaw Update

by Tom Gibson

When last I left you, dear gardener reader, http://www.gardenopoliscleveland.org/2016/06/taking-a-swing-at-pawpaws/, my five bearing pawpaw trees were carrying about 20 fruit each.  Just as important, they had held their fruit despite several vigorous spring showers. This was in contrast to the year before when storms knocked all but four of my baby fruitlets to the ground.  In the intervening period I had added gypsum (calcium sulfate) as a way to encourage fruit set while preserving the acidic soil pH pawpaws prefer. In other words, I tried to toughen my little guys up to face whatever the increasingly extreme Northeast Ohio weather had to offer.

This is what they look like when very young and vulnerable:

pawpaw-fruitlets

So did they make it?  Yes, big time!

They even withstood one of the most extreme weather events of the year: the so-called “microburst” of this past August. This storm hit a relatively small, 20-block area in my Cleveland Heights neighborhood that brought down numerous trees—including several on my street:The storm struck in the early evening, but an inspection the next morning showed that all my well-staked pawpaws had survived:

saved-pawpaws

After that it was “wait and feel.” My particular pawpaw cultivars don’t change color much—maybe a little yellow here and there—when they ripen. So, like a nurse taking my patients’ pulse, the best way to gauge ripeness is to take a morning squeeze of each pawpaw.  If they begin to soften, I wait a day or so for more softening, then bring them inside to fully ripen.

I’d leave the fruit on the tree longer except for some mammalian competition.  Raccoon?  Opossum? Something was coming through every night and sampling at least one pawpaw:

no-good-pawpaw

In the end, we harvested about 80 pawpaws.  They lined our window sills:

pawpaw-ripening

A pawpaw is best when it feels squishy soft.  That means its pulp is nice and custardy inside.  You can eat them as is for dessert:

pawpaw-for-dessert

Or combine them in smoothies with sour blackberries:

pawpaw-smoothie

But we also put the pulp into freezer bags, two cups to a bag, for use in baking:

more-preparing

Pawpaws add texture, flavor (banana/mango/nutmeg), and aroma to a lot of great baked goods:

pawpaw-pudding

 

GardenWalk Cleveland will be back in 2017!

Ann McCulloh, contributing editor

gwalk-graphic

In the heart of a Cleveland summer, hundreds of people stroll the city’s neighborhoods, invited to soak up the special character of each one, meeting residents and admiring their unique and welcoming gardens. GardenWalk Cleveland, a free, self-guided and volunteer-organized tour has been the vehicle for this special invitation since 2011. 

Last year (2016) Gardenwalk Cleveland took a one-year break, for a bunch of reasons that included an already crowded public event calendar (RNC, a national community gardening conference, to name two) some changes in funding sources, and the need to establish independent non-profit status. In hindsight, the break may have been an especially good idea, given the punishing drought we gardeners suffered all season long!

GardenWalk is back for 2017, and I for one am thrilled. Two neighborhoods have been chosen as definite hosts for the July 8 & 9 tour: Detroit-Shoreway and Collinwood. As many as two more will be added as planning for the event continues. A special focus on gardens that use native plants is planned for next year, too.

GardenWalk 2017 has mounted a crowdfunding campaign to cover the cost of producing maps, updating the website and other expenses associated with putting on the event. Contributions are already underway through November 18th at https://www.ioby.org/project/gardenwalk-cleveland-2017

Inspired by a similar event in Buffalo, New York, GardenWalk Cleveland’s mission is “to build community, beautify neighborhoods, and encourage civic pride.”  As a transplant to Cleveland (pun intended) I have been delighted to discover the neighborhoods of Cleveland (Old Brooklyn Hough, Larchmere, Tremont and more) and meet the truly charming and individual gardeners who live and garden there.

daylilies GC 2015 - 2

The two times I put my own garden on the tour I met a steady parade of wonderful fellow gardeners, and had many inspiring conversations. One visitor even came back a day or two later with a gift of special plants from her own garden! You can learn more about GardenWalk, and get involved! at http://www.gardenwalkcleveland.org/