Friday, July 18, 2014

Prairie flowers

While the spring ephemerals are long dormant, the long days of summer have brought lots of flowers to Asylum Lake's restored prairie.
Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) attracted lots of honey bees to its purple blossoms.
We didn't see any butterflies on this Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) although we did see Monarchs on some Common Milkweed.
Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) inspired, according to some, Western Michigan University's school colors.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Wild Lupine

Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) is a late Spring wildflower of open prairies and meadows.  The spire of purple flowers on a single plant is beautiful and a field of lupines is impressive.  This wildflower grows throughout the eastern US and but is rare in some parts of its range.  Wild Lupines are a critical food source for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly.    

Lupines, like other prairie plants, need full sun to survive.  Historically, wildfires kept fields open. Today, preserves often use controlled burns to limit the incursion of brush and trees. 
Wild Lupines, near Kalamazoo, are currently at peak blossom.  Yesterday, we visited the Maas Preserve on the White Pine Trail just north of Rockford and it was full of lupines.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Summer Events 2014

Summer's warm weather creates a wide variety of outdoor activities in west Michigan: biking, canoeing, hiking, camping or swimming in Lake Michigan.  Many area communities celebrate summer with festivals.

 Summer events near Kalamazoo

June 6-8 Cerulean Warbler Weekend Hastings

June 7 National Trails Day

June 7-8 Michigan Free Fishing Weekend

June 12-14 56th Annual Waterfest Three Rivers

June 19-22 Harborfest South Haven

July 2-6 Balloon Festival Battle Creek

July 9-14 Kindleberger Summer Festival Parchment

July 18-20  Old Tyme Tractor Show Scots

July  19-21  Rogue River Expedition 2014 Sparta

August 7-10  50th annual Blueberry Festival South Haven

Also consider:

Long weekend suggestions from Pure Michigan

50 fun things to do in Michigan this summer

West Michigan Summer Weekends

Kalamazoo Farmers Market

Michigan Fireworks Displays a comprehensive list of fireworks throughout the state

Events at Kalamazoo's Arcadia Creek Festival Place
Event listings from Discover Kalamazoo
Events from West Michigan Tourist Association

Kzoo Kids lists Beaches near Kalamazoo & Battle Creek promotes Lake Michigan beach towns.

Gazelle Sports' calendar of West Michigan Races and Running Workshops

Open Roads Fixapalooza
League of Michigan Bicyclist's Michigan Ride Calendar

West Michigan Coastal Kayaker's Association Event Calendar
Outdoor Athlete has lists for Michigan running, biking and triathlon events. 

Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy volunteer workdays
State park events for June, July, and August 2014 from Michigan's DNR

Michigan Festivals and Events Association Events browser

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wildflower season begins

Despite Kalamazoo's long, snowy winter, the 2014 Spring wildflower season is starting at a fairly typical time, perhaps a few days later than last year.  I visited the Kalamazoo Nature Center today and the blooms were just starting.  Hepatica were probably at their peak, with lots of blossoms open, only a few in bud, and almost none past flowering.

Harbinger of Spring were also near their peak, if this tiny flower can be said to have a peak.  Some years, they bloom much earlier.

The other ephemeral wildflowers are just getting started.  For the most part, Dicentras were just emerging, although a handful of early Dutchman's Breeches were in flower.

Marsh Marigolds were budding but they only had a couple of flowers.  A lot of the spotted leaves of Trout Lilies were up, but only a few flowers.   A few Mayapple umbrellas were emerging.  I saw one small Bloodroot in bloom.
Most of the Spring Beauty were still dormant but I did find a couple in flower.
If the weather stays warm, there may be many new blooms in the next few days.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Events 2014

After a long winter, with lots of snow, Spring in Kalamazoo brings warmer weather, birds, wildflowers, and morels and plenty of opportunities for hiking and biking.   Here are some local events to celebrate Spring.

Spring events near Kalamazoo

March 1- April 30 Butterflies are Blooming at Meijer Gardens Grand Rapids

April 19 Annual Lakeshore Earth Day Celebration Grand Haven

April 19-27, National Park Week
April 22 Free Admission for Earth Day at Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 9:00am - 5:00pm Augusta

April 26 Earth Day celebration and Free Admission at Kalamazoo Nature Center Kalamazoo
April 26 Thornapple Woodpecker Festival Middleville

April 26 Green-A-Thon 2013 Celery Flats Portage

May 3-10 Tulip Time festival Holland
May 3 Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade 1pm St Joseph - Benton Harbor

May 2-3 Victorian Days Grand Ledge

May 10 Spring Blooms in the Dunes (and Native Plant Sale 9am - 3pm) Gillette Visitor Center Hoffmaster State Park Muskegon

May 10 Lees' Kayak & Canoe Demo day Kalamazoo

May 10-17 Kalamazoo Bike Week Kalamazoo
May 13 Kalamazoo Bicycle Film Festival  at Bell's in Kalamazoo

May 16-18 Great Lakes Kite Festival 2013 Grand Haven

May 17 Family Fishing Fair Ramona Park 10am-1pm Portage

May 24 Lees' Kayak & Canoe Demo day Kalamazoo  
May 24 Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones Native Plant Sale People's Food Co-op Kalamazoo 

Also consider:
Vegetable planting dates

Earth Day Activities throughout Michigan

Wild Ones (Kalamazoo Chapter) Programs & Field Trips
Bike Friendly Kalamazoo's  Event listings

Battle Creek Cleanwater Events

Tawas Point Birding Festival Iosco County May 15–18

birdwatching at Bird Trails and Sanctuaries in Michigan

Pure Michigan May Events

Event listings from Discover Kalamazoo
DNR has calendars for State Park events in April, May
Gazelle Sports' calendar of West Michigan Races & Running Workshops

League of Michigan Bicyclists Michigan Bicycling Calendar

Outdoor Athlete has lists for Michigan running, biking and triathlon events.

Michigan Festivals and Events Association Events browser

Spring weekend getaways

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chicago Flower and Garden Show

Yesterday, I visited the Chicago Flower and Garden Show for the first time.  The big exhibit hall on Navy Pier was full of blossoms and greenery.  The show gardens were impressive, with waterfalls, koi ponds, fire pits, trees, playsets,  garden sheds, and gazebos-- all brought indoors for the week long show.
The structural elements of the gardens were surrounded by flowers from all seasons-- strikingly different than the melting piles of snow outside.  Forcing is easy for Spring bulbs, but these gardens had a wide array of plants including tree-sized rhododendrons and crabapples.   

Besides the dozen, or so, show gardens, there were demonstrations-- cooking, potting, gardening-- and a "marketplace" where vendors pitched everything from bulbs and cut flowers to home saunas and kitchen devices that slice and dice.   The show also had smaller exhibits, like windowbox gardens from various garden clubs.
Chicago Flower and Garden Show through March 23
$17 weekdays-$19 weekends

Rather than drive all the way to Chicago, I took the South Shore Line (or the NICTD, its less- charming modern name) from Michigan City, IN to downtown Chicago.  The train was on-time and was much easier than driving through heavy traffic. The round-trip fare, at $17, cost less than parking and tolls.  This was another first for me and I would do it again.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Maple Syrup Season 2014

While my colleagues complain that this winter will never end, the first signs of Spring are coming: longer days, migrating birds, and flowing sap.

Maple Syrup Festivals near Kalamazoo

March 8-9 Maple Sugar Madness Sarett Nature Center Benton Harbor

March 8-9 Maple Sugar Time Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Chesterton, Indiana

March 15-16 Maple Sugar Festival Kalamazoo Nature Center Kalamazoo

March 15-16 Sugar Camp Days Bendix Woods County Park, New Carlisle, IN

March 22 Sugarbush Festival  Blandford Nature Center Pancake Breakfast  9am-12noon Grand Rapids

April 25 - 27 Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival, Wakarusa, Indiana

April 25 - 27 74th Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival Vermontville

Also consider

Maple Sugaring from Michigan Advantage

Oakland County Maple Syrup Events

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival
Maple Syrup festivals in the Midwest (mostly Wisconsin and Minnesota)

The Kalamazoo Nature Center shared these links on making syrup on their Facebook page

-Michigan Maple Syrup Association:
-Ohio State University Extension: Fact Sheet Hobby Maple Syrup Production:
-Maple Field Guide (specs on other species of maple):
-Sugar Bush Supply Co. in Mason, MI: