I’ve been thinking a lot about our earth. We seem to be stalled when it comes to making changes that will protect ourselves and our animals and trees.

A few years ago I planted a small prairie plot in northern Wisconsin. It was quite small. I say that because I hand turned the soil for the planting. It was a slow start at first. The seeds went into the ground in the fall, because so many seeds need a full winter before they will sprout. The first year was a little disappointing. I had a few flowers. I remember the anemones first. But after a few years lots of flowers began to bloom.

They don’t bloom all at once, which I love about the little prairie patch. And the clumps of flowers have established themselves so now there is a big patch of verbena. The anemones have expanded their area, the sneeze weed has gotten a foothold and at the very end of the summer asters and goldenrod proliferate. Last year, which was quite warm and dry, the compass plant put on its six foot show and produced yellow flowers for the very late pollinators. I was so satisfied when the bees and late butterflies hovered around during the sunny cold September days.

There seem to be more butterflies than before. The orange Fritillaries lay eggs on the violets. Violets are so small they hardly show, but somehow the butterflies find them and the little caterpillars eat them as they grow. My land is wet clay, so the Swamp milkweed that is pink does better than the common milkweed.

Sometimes the monarchs hover there in mid summer, but in the fall, when they are migrating, the
milkweed is no longer blooming and they love the showy goldenrod. Our monarchs seem to flow south from Canada on their way to warmer climates.

In West Virginia, where I hang out in the winter, my daughter and I are now planting prairie seeds. We check the location map to see where they are native and only purchase what will grow here. We have been planting at the edge of her hay fields and in roadside ditches in hopes that the insects will increase. Yes, we are trying to increase insects! We want to feed the dragonflies and create insects for the birds.

Hungry Bluebirds arrived 3 weeks ago and we hope that in 3 or 4 years there will be more food for insects and more insects for the birds. We are also planting trees. This year we plan to add a couple sycamores and
perhaps, willows, along the riparian border of the Opequon Creek. We are taking great pleasure in planning and planting. Of course, some seedlings will be eaten by the deer and some will not get a good start, but in my mind, even 25-50% would be a high number. To protect the little saplings we use plastic tubes. Even then, the deer are voracious.

We love the land and want the plants and trees to thrive. It is a small act, but we hope watching them grow will give us pleasure every year. Then we will have some good thoughts about these 2 Covid years. The Sweet Gum Trees and the Maples that we planted last year will be our Covid trees. And hopefully more trees planted after the covid years will bring us ongoing joy.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the large problems, but just do what you are able to do to help us all along. Even a few native flowers next to your nursery -inspired flowers help out. Be dedicated, be patient, and you will be surprised. Let us know what you are doing. Next Earth Day we will add you to our blog. Pictures too!

We purchase our seeds online from Prairie Moon Inc. They have a great website with lots of good information, too. www.prairiemoon.com. Another of my favorite organizations is the Xerces Society. It is a nonprofit organization located in Washington State whose goal is to protect invertebrates. They do a lot with animals like crabs, dragonflies and monarchs. Their website is www.xerces.org.