LBL's woods, meadows and shorelines are alive with life and activity at this time of year. Summer is a season of growth, and this is evident as you walk through the months of June through September at LBL.
In early June, you may spy white-dappled fawns along one of our hiking trails, or see a mother giant Canada goose trailed by her young chicks as you canoe our lakeshores. Meadow grasses may be knee-high and a bright green, and tree leaves will have filled out, making tree identification a fun and easy trailside activity.
As summer progresses you'll notice subtle changes in the landscape. Leaves will darken to a deep, rich green, while grasses yellow to a bright gold. In August, our hummingbird population reaches its peak. For a glimpse at these winged delights, our Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden and feeders draw dozens a day (Hummingbird lovers will want to be sure to catch our Hummingbird Fest in August, when we'll have bird-banding, seminars, workshops and more -- stop by our Calendar for more details)
Summer is also prime season for some notorious pests -- like ticks! If you're walking through LBL's woods during the summer months, be sure to protect yourself against ticks using a pyrethrin-based insect repellent such as Permanone. Stay on treated trails and roads to reduce contact with ticks.
Humans have had an impact on even the tiniest of creatures. Continued development has resulted in the destruction of many habitats where wildflowers and other native plants historically grew. These flowers and plants are necessary habitat for many songbirds, hummingbirds and butterflies. Our Gardens at the Nature Station attempt to re-establish "mini-habitats" that will welcome these species back to their native range.
We invite you to participate with us in this process. Gardening for wildlife, even if it's just a few small pots or a window box, is fun and rewarding. Together, small deeds can have a big impact on wildlife around the country!
Too much rain in late spring and early summer has hurt our gardens this year, however we are still enjoying visits from the wildlife that we hoped to attract -- namely butterflies, humingbirds and bats.
Our Hummingbird Garden has some new additions. We placed natural stone under a gutter downspout to slow the water flow and to create a "basking" place for skinks, butterflies, and other insects. Rocks provide additional shelter, and the moist, dark environment beneath a rock is attractive to toads.
We've also added a butterfly house and are expecting takers soon. Butterflies spend about 14 hours a day roosting, and they often choose the underside of a leaf or a portion of a bush. Butterfly visitors to our garden include the Giant Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, Zebra Swallowtail, and the Great Spangled Fritillary. Monarchs have also visited, and we will see large numbers of this species during the warmer days of summer.
Removing dead flower heads from plants ("deadheading") encourages constant bloom, and we'll be kept busy at this task through the blooming season. Zinnias particularly benefit from this procedure.
Summer is also the time to start collecting seeds for future planting. We will be collecting seeds from the hollyhocks, cypress vine, spider plant, and cardinal climber.
Some seed-gathering tips: Leave the fruit (or flower) on the plant until they are dry, crisp, papery, or stiff. The seed should be black or brown. The best time to gather seeds is in the afternoon on a sunny, dry day, as wet seeds often mold in storage. Clean the seeds by pouring them from one jar to another in front of a low-speed fan; this removes any dry plant parts. After cleaning, spread the seeds on newspapers to dry for one to two weeks. They can then be stored in small, dry bags or placed in jar or other airtight container. Store the jars in a cool, dry basement, the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator, or an interior closet.
The Moon & Bat Garden is reflecting whites and grays. The white "flowering tobacco" is in full bloom, along with yarrow, zinnias, beards-tongue, star flower, lantana, and periwinkle. The white evening primrose adds a wonderful evening fragrance to the garden which attracts both butterflies and moths, therefore an attraction for bats who feed on insects in the evening.
We added a toad house made of stacked rocks to provide cool shelter, and a hollow log section for other wildlife to travel safely within the garden area. We expect fall lumina pumpkins as the vines grow and stretch outside the bounds of the garden.