• Trails are clear, but muddy in places. Big Creek is full of sucker, Canada buffaloberry is in bloom, and in the evenings, woodcocks are dancing at the Astronomy Campus.

What’s Happening: Changing Weather

Pollinator Pals

This week, the public programs at Crossroads will feature weather, native landscapes and birds, which, though different, are related because in ecology, everything is.

On Saturday, March 23 at 2:00, during our free family program, Saturday Science, learners of all ages will explore WEATHER! The topic was selected long ago because March is known for its changeable range of weather….lions and lambs… and so forth. But we certainly will not be able explain the bizarre weather we have experienced recently.

Theories ranging from sunspot activity or El Nino to shifts in the jet stream have flooded the Internet, but truly, the scientific community is baffled. And predictions about what this weather will mean to our migrating birds and fish, to our orchards and to our lawns and crops are speculation at best. That said, families will enjoy “making” a cloud and participating in hands-on demonstrations about wind and precipitation.

Landscaping With Natives

Door County Master Gardeners, Wild Ones-Door Peninsula and Crossroads at Big Creek have joined forces to bring Justin Kroening of Stone Silo Prairie Gardeners Nursery to the Collins Learning Center to present the free public program: “Solving Door County Landscaping Problems with Native Plants” on Tuesday, March 26 at 6:30pm.

When you think about it, many landscaping problems on the Door Peninsula are the result of extreme weather, and it does seem that extreme weather is becoming more common.

Some winters are bitter cold. Other winters are warm to the extent the plants and seeds do not experience the requisite days of dormancy. A late frost can prevent some flowers [think fruit trees] from blooming and bearing fruit. Some years [think last summer] it was far too dry. We all remembers summers during which we were flooded by perpetual rain or sudden violent storm events.

Inclement weather is nothing new. The Door Peninsula has been experiencing adverse weather conditions throughout its existence. During some geologic periods, weather was far more extreme than the conditions we have now.

Our native plants are the survivors of past adverse conditions. Native trees, shrubs and wildflowers have adapted to our soil conditions. They have survived the Little Ice Age. Unlike turf grass, natives have roots deep enough to have survived during prolonged droughts.

In contrast, many plants brought in from other parts of the world, while attractive and apparently desirable, usually do just fine in temperate years. But they just can’t make it under extreme conditions.
In his talk, Justin will recommend ways to landscape with the native plants which have adapted to our weather and climate.

The Genius of Birds

The next day, the Crossroads Book Club will discuss the award winning “Genius of Birds” an entertaining book which highlights new findings and discoveries in the field of bird intelligence. All are welcome, whether or not they have read the book, to join Program Director Corey Batson around the fireplace for a lively discussion.

Clearly birds are intelligent. For example, songbirds almost always choose to nest in landscapes with native plants. Understand that parent birds need the proteins and fats necessary to sustain themselves while involved in the arduous tasks of building nests and raising their families. And they need to be able to find even more nutritious food for their offspring.

For our songbirds, the best source of nutrients is caterpillars. But most moths and butterflies are quite particular in selecting the plants—almost always native—on which to lay their eggs.
It’s fun to watch songbirds select nest sites that will provide both cover and adequate food. They bounce through the trees and shrubs obviously looking for something.

They are looking for holes and insect damage in leaves. Most of us never even notice the tiny holes in host plants, but birds can recognize a nest territory that will supply the food they need to raise a family…. hopefully in our landscapes. Avian geniuses know they need natives in any kind of weather.

As always, our trails are open all day every day, free of charge. Check the Crossroads website calendar for upcoming events and details.

Book Club

Upcoming Activities

Saturday, March 23

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Science Saturdays: Weather

This free family program will begin with a brief video followed by a number of hands-on activities exploring the basics of weather. Kids will “make a cloud” and participate in hand-on activities focusing on air, heat, and water. Free and open to the public. Meet at the Collins Learning Center, Crossroads, 2041 Michigan Street.

Tuesday, March 26

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. DCMGA Lecture: Solving Door County Landscaping Problems with Native Plants

Many gardeners in Door County are interested in using more native plants because they provide food for insects, birds, bats, small mammals and other wildlife, but they’re unsure how to successfully use these plants. At the next Door County Master Gardeners Educational Lecture, Justin Kroening, owner of Stone Silo Prairie Gardens, will explore how to solve Door County landscape problems with native plants. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be in-person at Collin Learning Center, Crossroads, 2041 Michigan, Sturgeon Bay.

Wednesday, March 27

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Crossroads Book Club: The Genius of Birds

This month we’re reading The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman. Crossroads will have a few copies of the book available to borrow if needed. Whether you’ve read the book yet or not, we would love for you to join us as we explore the stories, ideas, and concepts shared within the pages of these awesome books! Meet at the Collins Learning Center, Crossroads, 2041 Michigan, Sturgeon Bay

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