Native Landscapes - Pawling NY

Early Spring Jaunts

The Living Landscape Journal April 2014
Early Spring Jaunts
On the last day of March, we went "out like a lion" with an ice storm. The calendar told us spring began the afternoon of March 20th, but we had to wait until April Fool's to experience the first day of spring weather. March was much colder than average by almost 6ºF. This winter was one of the top 20 snowiest winters and was consistently cold with no Indian summer. We dropped below 0ºF on numerous occasions in January, February and March. The coldest night bottomed out between 20ºF and 25ºF below zero.
Oil and electric bills were sky high this winter and unfortunately, it may not be over. I smell a spring snow storm. I remember May 9th back in the late 70's when a foot of snow fell the day after I mowed the lawn. This spring has that type of feel.
Now here is some good news to the bitter cold and snow. Entomologists are telling us these extremely cold temperatures this winter may have knocked back the tick and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid populations. Let's hope so.
Everything is late this spring. We are well into April and the maple syrup is still running, Snow Drops and Crocus are two weeks late, Pussywillows are just peaking out and there is still a snow pack in the deep woods. Before you know it, we will be up to our eyeballs in spring chores.
We need to wait one more week for the sun to melt the snow and the ground to dry out a bit more so we can work the soil. The heck with waiting, let's go for a hike. Hiking was tough this winter with the deep snow pack. Snow shoes were a must the last 2 1/2 months. Let's get some exercise and catch up on our hiking and exploring this early spring. It's the most interesting time of the year to be in the woods, before the deciduous tree canopy flushes out, wildflowers such as Swamp Marigold, Trillium, Columbine, Jack in the Pulpit, Virginia Bluebells, Mountain Pink, Shad, Spice Bush, Native Andromeda, Bleeding Heart, Pussywillow, Trout Lily, Skunk Cabbage, Woodland Phlox, Wild Ginger, White Foam Flower, Crested Iris, Pink Shell Azalea, Blueberry, Cutleaf Toothwort and Anemone are to bloom.
Here in Pawling, we are in a trail lands region for hiking. The Appalachian Trail traverses our region with many different and challenging terrains. The Pawling Nature Reserve, a Nature Conservancy wilderness with its many trails, is a true wilderness region straddling the towns of Dover and Pawling with access off of Quaker Lake Road. A hike up to Cranberry Mountain off Havilland Hollow is a great loop hike for you and your canine friend to enjoy some quality time together. For a quick outing, take a short walk up to the awe inspiring Dover Stone Church and take in the beauty of one of our local treasures.
There are many trails in the Harlem Valley worth exploring and picking a few hikes is the perfect way to get some cardiovascular and leg exercise before we get our nails dirty. Happy mud season!

Pete and the Natives

Spring Sweet Nectar March 2014

The Living Landscape Journal
March 2014

Spring Sweet Nectar

Spring time brings longer sunny days, warmer weather, bursting leaf buds and quaint spring ephemerals. Tree sap begins to thaw and moves up majestic maple trunks with new invited nutrients. Leaf buds and early spring flower buds burst open, welcoming pollinators to a drop or two of nectar and a dusting of pollen.

Bees fly back and forth to their hive during their long busy day treks to share nectar with the "house bees". The "house bees" ingest the nectar and hold it in their "honey stomachs." The house bees have two stomachs, one for ingesting honey for nutrients and one for the storage of nectar. After storing the nectar, the house bee adds enzymes to the nectar and drops it into a hexagon shaped cell within the hive. Before they drop it in the cell, the nectar stays in a droplet outside the bees mouth and evaporates for up to twenty minutes. The process is repeated until the whole cell is filled up. The house bees will fan the nectar using their wings to promote more evaporation. Once the moisture content of the nectar drops to about 20%, the house bee caps it with a layer of wax for protection. Here, the honey is stored for the colony as food for larvae and potential new queens. The honey is an important beneficial carbohydrate for adult honey bees, especially, the worker bees, who are busy collecting nectar all day.

Nectar and honey are not the only food source for a bee colony. They also rely on pollen as a source of protein, lipids, vitamins and minerals. When the worker bees head out for the day, they come back with pollen in their "pollen basket" located on their back legs. When they bring the pollen back to the hive, the bees moisten the pollen with nectar to make "bee bread". "Bee bread" is an important protein source, especially for developing bees. Not only is pollen important to bees it is important to ensuring future seed development within flowers known as pollination.

One bee can visit up to 5,000 flowers in one day and can make an average of 20 - 25 trips to its hive! However, if the weather does not cooperate this spring and we get high amounts of precipitation, there is the possibility of the bees starving due to a low ration of honey within the hive after the long winter. Bees are able to sense air pressure. When the air pressure drops they know it is going to rain and they begin their journey back to the hive. During a good season one large bee hive can produce up to 20 - 30 pounds of honey.

In honor of how much pollinators and bees do for us to produce delicious honey, I think it is important to change our mindset and for now, think about our lawns. What is our lawns ecological significance? Does it help the bees? This spring lets think about converting some of our lawn into a garden that can act as a nectar source for important pollinators and bees. When thinking about plants for your nectar garden, think natives! I cannot stress enough how important native plants are. They have so much more to offer our wildlife and insects than our lawn or "green desert" as Kim Eierman founder of Ecobeneficial likes to put it. ( It is important to know that some non-native plants do not produce nectar for nectar feeding insects and birds. Do some light research and you are bound to find wonderful native nectar plants. A few of my suggestions are Clethra alnifolia, this shrub produces many fragrant racemes of white flowers and the bees absolutely love this plant. After it flowers, birds will feed on the seed heads in the fall. Asclepius tuberosa, a bright orange flowered perennial that is also a host for the monarch butterfly and the grey hairstreak butterfly. This plant has a significant amount of nectar for pollinators it is a great addition to any garden. Joe Pye Weed or Eupatorium maculatum is a tall, upright perennial with big pink billowy flowers. Joe Pye provides sweet nectar and pollen to the hard working bees in August. All of these plants and more you can find at Native Landscapes in our Garden Center. We will be opening April 1st and Pete and I will be happy to answer any questions about native plants.

Happy Spring!

Cassandra Kessman

Accurate Winter Temperatures - January 2014

The Living Landscape Journal
January 2014
Accurate Winter Temperatures

Decembers weather started out warmer than normal. By the second week of the month the cold weather settled in and it began to snow. We got three snow storms in December and ice also became an underlying issue. A week before Christmas we had close to a foot of snow on the ground and it was cold. We set two cold temperature records during this cold snap. The buzz around town was we were in for an old fashioned winter and our first white Christmas in a few years.

The weekend before Christmas, the temperature shot up into the sixties, it began to rain and the fog set in. The rain, warm temperatures and fog devoured the snow pack overnight. Cold air settled in on Christmas Eve and it began to snow at sunset. The timing was perfect and just enough snow fell to give Christmas Eve a sugar coating and put us in the holiday spirit.

January was a continuation of our temperature roller coaster ride as temperatures fell way below zero and shot up into the fifties a day later. It was as if we were in a bad relationship with the weather Gods and they could not make up there minds.

The media jumped on to the bandwagon and latched on to their new weather phrase “Polar Vortex”. I have not heard that phrase used so often since the movie The Day after Tomorrow. These temperatures and weather extremes appear to be the normal this winter and as I write this article, on the afternoon of January 7th, it’s +5º F. After yesterdays 55º F rain, its remarkable how these temperature fluctuations occur in such a short period of time in early January.

Everyone needs to know the weather and the temperature trends each day before we venture outside. This information helps us dress comfortable and prepare us for how slick it may be under foot or tire. Many of us depend on the TV, radio and internet to find out how cold it is outside. We live in a rural mountain region and our temperatures tend to be colder than New York City, Poughkeepsie or Danbury. Morning temperatures can be as much as a five degree difference from Quaker Hill to the Village of Pawling. We should all have an outside thermometer at the house where we can check the temperature each day. Pick a spot that will give us an accurate reading. If placed on the house make sure it’s on the north side, in the shade, out of direct sunlight. We can mount the unit on a window frame, outside a bedroom, kitchen or living room window area where we can get an unobstructed view. An accurate long lasting thermometer comes in all shapes and sizes. Before purchasing our outdoor thermometer make sure it is showing an accurate temperature so purchase the unit showing the most accurate reading. Knowing the correct outside temperature before we venture outside will help us dress and travel safely.

Pete and the Natives

Native Landscapes Voted Best in the Hudson Valley for 2013!

Native Landscapes of Route 22 Pawling has won a 2013 Best of Hudson Valley Award from Hudson Valley Magazine.

Owner Pete Muroski launched this business in 1987, with an eye toward sharing his passion for plants and a commitment to environmentally conscious design. “It’s basically a common-sense approach to gardening: Using native plants that are indigenous to our region,” says Muroski, who oversees the company’s landscape design and maintenance services. Their construction portfolio includes stone walls and paths, nature-friendly water features, perennial gardens, and more. Native Landscapes also offers a full-service native-plant garden center to help local gardeners learn about and enjoy the beauty of our region’s flora.

Mr. Muroski will be honored on October 17th at a party in the Grand Hotel in Poughkeepsie, N.Y..

Natives Landscapes website is

Native Landscapes 991 Rte 22, Pawling, NY 12564, 845-855-7050.

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