Apologies, Danger on the Rocks, Green Bean Festival, Quilt Show, Native Plant Rant

I want to apologize to my regular readers for not posting lately. I’ve had a few technical difficulties, which I think are resolved.

It’s been a little more moderate in terms of temperature, but hardly cool. It’s also been very rainy and humid, turning my property into the usual mycologist’s paradise. I’ll bet I have thirty varieties of mushrooms at any given time. The outlook for the weekend is that it seems likely to be dry, which is very welcome stuff.

I recently mentioned that the “Lady on the Rocks” lost the lawsuit over possession of Aska Rapids. I also mentioned that there’s a drop there that’s a little hazardous. But I didn’t realize that there had been drownings there. I’m told that people going over the drop have gotten their feet caught in the rocks below water and have not been able to free themselves before they drown. So the drop is much more of a hazard than I realized.

I’ve been hearing the Yellow-billed cuckoo in the morning for the past couple of days. They have a very distinct call, but I’ve found them nearly impossible to sneak up on. Usually, I see them leaving from the top of the tree when I’m still quite a way away. They’re easy to identify if you see them fly from fairly close, because their long tails have a “polka dot” pattern that flashes white pretty clearly. There may be a little early migration going on, because I’m hearing birds in the evening that I don’t usually hear.

That sound at night? Those are the katydids, and that’s their mating call. If you aren’t familiar with them, they look like bright green grasshoppers. Only the male sings. I haven’t seen this yet, but later in the year, on a hot August night, you can often hear the female answer softly before flying to meet the male of her choice. It’s considered one of the very few exceptions to the rule that the male takes more risk for sex than the female, because the female exposes herself to predation when she flies. The reason is thought to be that after mating, the male gives the female a very valuable meal. I haven’t asked the katydids about that, but I do love to listen to them sing me to sleep at night.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the last day of the Quilt Show at the Arts Center in downtown Blue Ridge. It’s well worth seeing.

Tomorrow is also the Green Bean Festival at the Union County Farmer’s Market. There are supposed to be 100 vendors in attendance, a bike race, a green bean eating contest, and some other festivities. This is a beautiful facility, and worth a visit for the produce. From Blue Ridge, you would turn left just after the Home Depot in Blairsville.

The DNR has posted an interesting piece on invasive species in Georgia. I missed the first part of the series, but there is a link to it at the end of part two,

http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/GADNR/bulletins/10f2ef5

I only recently learned that the main reason that invasive plants overrun natives is that insects can’t eat them. Plants throw up chemical defenses – poisons – that discourage the insects unless they’ve co-existed with the plants for a long time and have “learned” to overcome them. If they were animals, we’d say they have no natural enemies. This is an issue that a lot of people don’t understand – and some of the old gardeners refuse to understand – but with so much┬áhabitat lost to development, the entomologists are beginning to realize that if we don’t begin to plant at least some natives, we’re risking the collapse of the ecosystem. In other words, it isn’t just aesthetically wrong to come here and cut down all the trees and plant stuff that doesn’t belong here … it’s morally wrong. If that sounds far fetched, there’s a pretty good case that can be made for it, for instance by Douglas Tallamy in Bringing Nature Home.

There are links to some good resources here, including sources of native plants, native plant identification, native plant recommendations for Georgia and landscaping information.

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