Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Weekend Recap

It was a very full weekend here in Illinois. Friday night was the Butterfly Ball, the annual black tie fundraising event for the Museum. We spend months preparing for it. My department becomes especially busy the two weeks prior to the event cleaning, pruning plants both in the butterfly exhibit and on the museum grounds. I have attended all of the Butterfly Balls, nine to date. Occasionally Leon accompanies me, as he did this year. It’s my only foray into the Chicago area social scene (yes, the event is covered on the society pages of the local papers). It has always intrigued my that I’m capable of functioning quite comfortably in this type of atmosphere, even though I’m more accustomed to (and happier) wearing jeans and a tee shirt and working out in the field.

On Saturday, I donned jeans and a tee shirt and worked out in the field. It was a Bluff Spring Fen workday, and we spent the morning attacking public enemy number one- garlic mustard- in wooded areas of the preserve. Garlic mustard is another one of these non-native invasive species that moves into an area and takes over, displacing many native species in the process. The oak trees are in full flower at the moment, which means allergies for me. In the afternoon, Leon went back out to the Fen, and I returned home and crashed hard for the afternoon. That’s often a consequence of allergies for me.

Garlic Mustard

Sunday was a work around the house day. I removed the mulch from the herb garden and replanted some of the herbs growing there. Our vegetable garden is doing well. We have radishes and four varieties of lettuce germinating. I also have flats with two varieties of sweet peppers and two varieties of eggplants coming up (thanks to Ur-Spo and Someone for the Christmas gift certificate to Seed Savers Exchange. This gift will definitely keep on giving). I made two cheeses Sunday afternoon, a mozzarella and a Gouda. The Gouda just finished its brine soak and is now drying. The mozzarella went on a pizza. I used a new crust recipe and was very pleased with the results.

Oh, and one final note on the Butterfly Ball. I mentioned that it’s a fundraiser. This year we had an interesting challenge. If we raised more than $1 million, an anonymous donor would match it dollar for dollar. We actually raised $1.5 million, so the event raised a cool $3 million for the museum. It’s really gratifying to see the institution’s financial situation improving to the degree that it is.

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At 10:46, Blogger robin andrea said...

That looks like one fancy event! Great fundraising, really quite impressive.

We've been out in the garden ripping the non-natives out of the ground by the piles-ful. The hardest plant to get rid of is the Scotch Broom. A root system that just won't budge. Roger is persistent, but so is that rotten bush.

At 15:42, Anonymous rcwbiologist said...

Congratulations on the fund raiser. That sounds like a good sum of money for the museum. How does the mustard garlic get into the preserve? birds, people? Also, what method are you using to eradicate it, and is it working?

At 16:22, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Robin Andrea- Thanks, it was fun. We don't have Scotch broom here in northern Illinois, though I understand it's a touch one to battle. We also don't have buddlea, which I understand can also be a problem.

rcwbiologist- Garlic mustard is a very prolific producer of seed. It seems to be spread mainly by herbivores- deer, rabbits and the like. I'm not aware of birds being a major vector for it. We control with a combination of burning (sets it back fairly well), using Roundup on the winter rosettes, ande hand pulling in high wuality areas. We also are actively seeding our oak savannas with a good mixture of native species. Garlic Mustard dows notlike competition. The difference in plant density in seeded and adjacent unseeded areas is striking.

At 17:57, Anonymous Mark H said...

I was quite astounded to see Garlic Mustard mentioned. At this VERY TIME, up here in NW Portland (in and near the woods) we're all fighting a mighty invasion of the stuff...and here I see YOU have it. We've been pulling it then bagging it to make sure it gets carried away. Scotsbroom! We have that too...I personally CLEAN the 1/2 mile or so along road for our neighborhood just because I hate it. In the field next to us (that Ed de-forested three years ago) I pulled about 400 starts this spring...it's nasty! I'm quite convinced SOME of those mustard seeds are spread by cars causing winds going by....since ALL along the roads going off the hill, there are thick invasions of the weed ....... THANKS for the post, I see "I'm NOT alone!"...........

At 19:43, Anonymous Lemuel said...

Congrats on the funds raised from the museum! Very well done!

By the picture you do look right at home in a tux even as you do in the field.

At 20:06, Blogger Ur-spo said...

that is a very handsome photo; but then I was always partial to men in bowties!
Garlic mustard is nasty I agree.

At 20:10, Blogger rodger said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 20:11, Blogger rodger said...

Mmmmm....HANDSOME MENS! No wonder you raised so much money. Congratulations!

At 07:47, Blogger Robert said...

Awh sweet picture of you two handsome men! Another one for the photo book! :-)

At 14:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job on the fund-raiser, Doug!

It's too bad garlic mustard is such a beast, because it's not too bad on the eyes.

Great series on the burns, by the way. Florida (at least my part of it) is burning like crazy right now. If you ask me, the various fires wouldn't be nearly so bad if people understood that much of the developed property is designed to burn periodically, and worse wildfires result if these areas do NOT burn regularly.

At 21:05, Blogger BentonQuest said...

Nice Tux! Nice guys in the tuxes!


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