Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tree & Shrub Workshop: February 28

The expansive Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center at Caesar Creek Lake in Warren County, Ohio. This building, and its location, is picture-perfect for hosting natural history events. And it is here where an interesting Tree & Shrub Workshop will take place on Saturday, February 28 from 9 am to 3:30 pm. The event is hosted by the Midwest Native Plant Society, the outfit that brings us the annual Midwest Native Plant Conference in Dayton. CLICK HERE for full details on the Tree & Shrub Workshop.

The Visitor's Center is conveniently located near Interstate 71, a couple of stone's throws north of Cincinnati and only about an hour's drive from Columbus. CLICK HERE for more info about the center and Caesar Creek. As an added bonus, great habitat abounds within minutes of the center. We'll of course have some field trips following the speaker portion of the event. Those who are so inclined can stay for the dusk American Woodcock extravaganza. There is a great courtship field a few minutes from the center, and these comical sandpipers - our only woodland-breeding sandpiper! - should be back and doing their sky dances.

A gargantuan Tuliptree, Liriodendron tulipifera, reaches for the sky. Ohio hosts some 220 species of native woody plants, but not all of them attain this sort of mass. Size aside, all of our shrubs and trees play an inordinately important role in ecosystems, and support an enormous array of animals.

An absolutely striking shrub that would be at home in any garden, formal or "natural", is the Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius.This native member of the rose family looks good at any season, and when in flower is dynamite for pollinating insects.

Four speakers will fill the morning and early afternoon: Casey Burdick of the Ohio Division of Forestry; Brian Jorg of the Cincinnati Zoo; Solomon Gamboa of Pioneer Landscapes LLC; and yours truly, the driver of this blog.

A Blue-headed Vireo weaves her ornate cup into the forked twig of a Red Maple, Acer rubrum. As you likely know, the majority of our nesting songbirds depend upon woody plants as the structural support for their nests. This is just one of scores of important roles played by trees and shrubs.

A tasty little inchworm, the Maple Spanworm, Ennomos magnaria, locomotes along a twig. Birds love inchworms - for food - and you can be assured that the vireo in the preceding shot would make a meal of this larva in a New York second were the bird to spot it.

Trees and shrubs grow the lion's share of caterpillars, at least in this part of the world. Producing scads of tubular moth and butterfly larvae is vital, and is one of the most important ecological roles that woody plants perform. Without lots and lots of caterpillars, we'd not have all of our beautiful songbirds. The overarching ecological roles played by woody plants is the gist of my talk, which is entitled Ohio's Botanical Workhorses: Trees and Shrubs. Solomon Gamboa and Brian Jorg will discuss in detail the best species of plants for yardscapes, and how to best make them grow.

Trees seem to be under constant siege by an over-growing cast of introduced insect pests, such as the emerald ash borer that killed the Green Ash in this photo. Casey Burdick of the Ohio Division of Forestry will provide an interesting and important talk about who is killing who in the world of trees, and what is being done about it.

The event's organizer, Kathy McDonald, has also organized an all-star cast of characters to lead the post-conference field trips. This is sure to be a fun and informative day, and your $35.00 admission fee even includes lunch.

Sign on soon, these workshops often fill up. This one is an especially good way to usher in spring with an informative blend of education and field work. All of the details, including registration info, are RIGHT HERE.

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