Celebrate Trees on Earth Day (April 22)

TREES

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

 

written February 2, 1913 by Alfred Joyce Kilmer 

 

 

Decorate Your Yard with an Ornamental Tree

by George and Becky Lohmiller

If you are looking for an attractive ornamental tree for your yard, there are the old standbys like crabapple, flowering cherry, hawthorn, or Japanese maple. While any one of these trees will add interest for part of the season, there are less common ones that have four-season value and are sure to have your friends asking, “Wow, what kind of tree is that?”

The Katsura Tree
(Cercidiphyllum japonicum)
Pyramidal when young, the 40 to 60–foot–tall tree assumes a graceful, rounded shape with maturity. The spring leaves start out in a rosy purple color and change to blue–green. In autumn, the 2 to 4–inch–long, heart–shaped foliage develops shades of yellow, orange, and apricot. As the leaves drop, they scent the air with a sweet, spicy fragrance with hints of cinnamon or caramel. Its lightly–peeling, shaggy brown bark carries katsura’s charm right through the winter.

The Persian Parrotia
(Parrotia persica)
This spectacular performer is sure to turn heads any time of the year. It grows a modest 20 to 40 feet tall with a 15 to 30–foot spread. In March or early April, a haze of small crimson flowers covers the tree, followed by developing reddish–purple leaves that mature to a deep green. It is parrotia’s brilliant autumn foliage, however, that really steals the show, with a breathtaking display of bright yellow, orange, and scarlet leaves. Exfoliating bark that reveals shades of creamy white, green, gray, and brown tones give this tree exceptional winter interest.

Japanese Stewartia
(Stewartia pseudocamellia)
Another small tree (20 to 40 feet tall), the Stewartia will brighten up any landscape. Its 2 to 3–inch–wide, white flowers with orange anthers resemble camellia blossoms and open in July. Young leaves start with a purple tint but later turn dark green. Stewartia’s stunning fall foliage is orange, red, or both. Its showy bark unfolds in layers, displaying a mosaic of grays, reds, and oranges that won’t go unnoticed in any season.

These three offbeat ornamentals are hardy to Zone 4 and are seldom bothered by insects or diseases. It is probably by coincidence that all of these trees end in the letter “a,” but we think that for the outstanding job they perform in the landscape, this should probably be changed to an “A+.”

To find your area’s Plant Hardiness Zone, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, click here.

 

 

Summer Solstice Quiz

Summer beach

Summer is finally here!

The solstice heralds the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the one day of the year with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. In 2017, the solstice falls on June 20 at 11:24 pm, central time. The timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator.

The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice).

In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer.

 

Q1. The Pagan summer solstice was adopted by Christians as:
1. The Feast of St. Verulus and Companions
2. The Feast of St. Emma
3. The Feast of St. John the Baptist
4. The Feast of St. Mary
5. The Feast of St. Brigid

 


Q2. What is the relationship between the moon’s phase and the summer solstice?

summer solstice moon

The solstice heralds the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2014, the solstice falls on June 21 at 6:51 A.M. EDT.

1. There is always a full moon at the summer solstice.
2. There is always a new moon at the solstice.
3. There is no relationship.

 

Q3. According to the old folk calendar, summer begins on:
1. Summer solstice (June 21) and ends on Mabon (Sept. 21)
2. Beltane (May 1) and ends on Lammas (Aug. 1)
3. Ostara (March 21) and ends on Mabon (Sept. 21)
4. Summer solstice (June 21) and ends on Samhain (Oct. 31)

 

Q4. The summer solstice is the official first day of summer. When does summer end?
1. At the winter solstice
2. At the autumnal equinox
3. At the vernal equinox

 

Q5. According to the Pagan Celtic year, there are four ‘lesser’ holidays. Which isn’t one of them?

Sun - Summer Solstice Prayer

Click here for the Summer Solstice Prayer

1. Imbolc
2. Yule
3. Summer Solstice
4. Vernal equinox
5. Mabon

 

Q6. In England, it was the ancient custom on summer solstice eve to:
1. Light bonfires
2. Jump through fires
3. Wander with players dressed as unicorns and dragons
4. Deck the house with birch and lilies
5. None of the above
6. All of the above

 

Q7. Which movie takes place during the Summer Solstice?
1. ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’
2. ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
3. ‘Suddenly Last Summer’

 

Q8. In which film did Sgt Milton Warden, played by Burt Lancaster, and Karen Holmes, played by Deborah Kerr, have a passionate clinch on a beach?

1. The Notebook
2. The King and I
3. From Here to Eternity
4. Atlantic City

 

Q9. What baseball movie was based on Burt Lancaster?

the movie cast of "The Sandlot"

The Sandlot” movie cast

1. The Sandlot
2. Bad News Bears
3. Bull Durham
4. The Rookie

 

Q10. Which place on earth receives the longest period of daylight on June 21?
1. The North Pole
2. The South Pole
3. The equator

 

dog in a hot dog costume

A REAL hot dog!

Q11. The Dog Days of Summer refers to the weeks between July 3rd and August 11th. They are named after ….?

1. The fact that the average person eats 60 hotdogs a year, mostly during the months of July and August.
2. The Dog Star (Sirius) in the constellation of Canis Major.
3. Dogs… due to the behavior canines exhibit during hot weather

 

Q12. Which American state is officially nicknamed “The Sunshine State”?

1. California
2. Iowa
3. Florida

 

Q13. Exposure to sunlight is one of the best ways for the human body to get which vitamin?

1. Vitamin A
2. Vitamin B
3. Vitamin C
4. Vitamin D

 

Q14. 1. When was the first bathing suit worn?
A. Greece in 350 BC
B. Rome in 54 AD
C. Victorian England in 1841
D. Pebbles on the Flintstones during the Stone Age

 

Tom Cruise in sunglasses

So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades – Tom Cruise wearing the Ray-Ban Wayfarer model sunglasses in “Risky Business.”

Q15. Who invented and wore the first pair of sun glasses?
A. Africans
B. The Chinese
C. Europeans
D. Hollywood celebrities

 

Q16. Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet, but which U.S. state grows the most lemons to eat?
A. Alaska
B. California
C. Florida
D. Puerto Rico

 

 

Q17. In 1776, what momentous event forever impacted how summer would taste in America?
A. The hot dog was invented and served at the Boston tea party
B. George Washington modeled the first American swimwear line while crossing the Delaware
C. The first ice cream parlor opened in New York City
D. The Beach Boys recorded their first hit

 

 

plate of hot dogsQ18. Which location has NOT been claimed as the birthplace of the American hotdog?

A. Coburg, Germany
B. Coney Island, USA
C. Frankfort, Germany
D. Vienna, Austria

 

 

 

Quiz Answers will be provided tomorrow… so, enjoy the summer in the meantime and check back.

 

Uncommon Goods – Love Natural Style

Uncommon Goods points out how romantic the Animal Kingdom is.  Read on to find out more.

So romantic.  Welcome to the Valentine’s Day edition of Uncommon Knowledge—a place where we can talk about all the romantic things animals do for each other. For one, sea otters hold hands when they sleep. They do this mostly so they don’t drift away from their pals while they snooze on their backs in the water, but the result is true intimacy.

Another romantic gesture? Penguins will propose to new mates with a pebble. Many penguins assemble their nests out of pebbles, so really, it’s a way of offering their beloved a promise to build a home with them. Maybe we can follow suit and start replacing engagement rings with a nice adjustable rate mortgage?

Brolgas cranes, like most cranes, are monogamous and will mate with the same partner every year, typically at the same nesting spot. However, the brolgas know a thing or two about keeping the romance alive—no matter how many years they’ve been together, the brolgas will still court their mate with an intricate mating dance. Ooh la la!

Okay, let’s do some rapid-fire romance: Ready for a puppy fact? Male puppies will intentionally let female puppies win when they play-fight so they can get to know them better. Like seahorses? They’re monogamous and will hold each other’s tails when traveling.

Ain’t love grand?

Penguins in Love

 

 
Written by Kate B
Kate is a copywriter. Strangers would describe her as that very tall girl with glasses, as would her friends. She is pretty good at needlepointing, surprisingly good at bocce ball, and very bad at choosing between sweet and savory at brunch. She is well-liked by most dogs.

 

Dec. 22, 2014 – Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice (Northern) History
The Winter Solstice happens every year around December 21 or 22. It marks the shortest day of the year as the Northern Hemisphere is angled the farthest away from the Sun on this day.

Facts about Winter Solstice (Northern)
On the Winter Solstice there are 24 hours of sunlight in the Antarctic Circle, and 24 hours of darkness in the Arctic Circle.

Many pagan rituals have revolved around the Winter Solstice. The short days and long hours of darkness prompted rituals intended to lure the Sun back.Winter Solstice

The Mayan calendar ended on the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012.
10 inches of snow melts down into only 1 inch of rain.

Winter Solstice (Northern) Top Events and Things to Do
Eat more Vitamin-D rich foods to balance out the lack of sunlight.
Light some candles and enjoy the early evening.
Finish some last minute Christmas shopping.
Purchase a Christmas tree. Tip: For a more environmentally friendly Christmas, purchase a Live trees in a burlap root sack that can be planted after the holiday.
Watch the lunar eclipse which happens within several days of the winter solstice.

 

Click here to find out more from the Farmer’s Almanac.

Answers to the Earth Day Trivia Quiz

Earth Day HistoryEarth Day - April 22

Ever wondered how Earth Day started? This observance arose from an interest in gathering national support for environmental issues. In 1970, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. McConnell chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22. Millions of people participated, and today Earth Day continues to be widely celebrated with events on both dates. The most common practice of celebration is to plant new trees for Earth Day.

 

1. Earth Day was first celebrated in:
A. 1960
B. 1965
C. 1970
D. 1975

If you read the paragraph above, then you know the year was 1970.

 

2. Which household appliance uses the most energy?
A. Refrigerator
B. Toaster
C. Dishwasher
D. Washing machine

The answer is A — Refrigerators use about 11% of household’s total energy consumption.

Refrigerator

Refrigerators use about 11% of a household’s energy consumption…. especially when you keep the door open for a long period of time deciding what you want to eat!

Take Action: Buy Energy Star endorsed refrigerators, which will use less energy and save you money. Also, make sure your refrigerator is set to optimal energy-use temperatures (between 2°C and 3°C).

 

3. What country has the greatest number of coal-powered generators?
A. Canada
B. Russia
C. U.S.A.
D. China

The answer is D — China requires a great deal of energy to power their rapidly developing economy. Unfortunately, burning coal causes pollution.

 

4. “Phantom carriers” is a term used for electronic devices that:
A. Move from room to room
B. Continue to consume electricity even when switched off*
C. Are really expensive
D. Are energy efficient

The answer is B — “Phantom carriers” are products that draw power 24 hours a day. Appliances that have a clock or programming displays, such as coffee makers, DVD players, computers, printers and stereos, are considered phantom load carriers. 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.

 

5. What percentage do heating costs rise by for every degree above 20°C that you set your household thermostat in the winter?
A. 2%
B. 4%
C. 5%
D. 7%

The answer is C — Don’t overheat your home in the winter. Put on a sweater and dress accordingly in order to save money and to use less energy.

Save energy like this pooch who is snuggling under some blankets.

Save energy like this pooch who is snuggling under some blankets.

6. Your residential water heater uses of ________ your home’s energy and produces approximately two tones of carbon dioxide annually:
A.5%
B. 10%
C. 15%
D. 20%

The answer is C
Take Action: Turn down the thermostat on your water heater to reduce energy consumption. Often the level is set unnecessarily high for regular use. If you go on holiday or away for a long period of time, you can turn off the heater since the water does not need to be constantly heated when no one is home to use it.

 

7. Recycling 1,000 kg of aluminum saves enough energy to heat a/an ________ for 10 years.
A. Typical home
B. Elementary school
C. Corner store
D. Restaurant

The answer is A Recycling 1,000 kg of aluminum saves the equivalent of 10,000 L of gasoline.

 

8. What household appliance uses the second most amount of energy (the first is the refrigerator)?
A. Hair dryer
B. Clothes dryer
C. Microwave
D. Computer

The answer is B
Take Action: Whenever possible air-dry your laundry. You can use an outdoor clothes line or purchase a drying rack to use indoors. Air drying can save $85 in energy costs per year and help reduce your impact on the environment.

 

laundry room

Save energy in the laundry room.

9. What is the most energy efficient cycle to wash and rinse your clothes on?
A. Cold-cold
B. Warm-cold
C. Hot-cold
D. Warm-cold

The answer is A
Take Action: Use cold water to wash your clothes. If every household in Canada did this, it would reduce approximately 1.5 billion kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions yearly.

 

10. Which energy source produces the greatest amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide?
A. Natural gas
B. Nuclear
C. Oil
D. Coal

The answer is D — Gases emitted from coal burning plants contribute to acid rain and global warming.

11. What type of sector uses the greatest amount of electricity?
A. Commercial and industrial
B. Restaurant and fast food
C. Residential
D. Institutional

The answer is  A — The commercial sector uses almost 70% of all electricity produced.
Take Action: When at home or at work, make sure to turn off lights, computers and other energy-consuming equipment when not in use.

Earth Day Trivia Quiz

Earth Day 2015Earth Day History

Ever wondered how Earth Day started? This observance arose from an interest in gathering national support for environmental issues. In 1970, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. McConnell chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22. Millions of people participated, and today Earth Day continues to be widely celebrated with events on both dates. The most common practice of celebration is to plant new trees for Earth Day.

1. Earth Day was first celebrated in:
A. 1960
B. 1965
C. 1970
D. 1975

2. Which household appliance uses the most energy?
A. Refrigerator
B. Toaster
C. Dishwasher
D. Washing machine

3. What country has the greatest number of coal-powered generators?
A. Canada
B. Russia
C. U.S.A.
D. China

4. “Phantom carriers” is a term used for electronic devices that:
A. Move from room to room
B. Continue to consume electricity even when switched off*
C. Are really expensive
D. Are energy efficient

5. What percentage do heating costs rise by for every degree above 20°C that you set your household thermostat in the winter?
A. 2%
B. 4%
C. 5%
D. 7%

6. Your residential water heater uses of ________ your home’s energy and produces approximately two tones of carbon dioxide annually:
A. 5%
B. 10%
C. 15%
D. 20%

7. Recycling 1,000 kg of aluminum saves enough energy to heat a/an ________ for 10 years.Recycle aluminum cans
A. Typical home
B. Elementary school
C. Corner store
D. Restaurant

8. What household appliance uses the second most amount of energy (the first is the refrigerator)?
A. Hair dryer
B. Clothes dryer
C. Microwave
D. Computer

dryer and laundry basket

What setting is the most energy efficient when doing laundry?

9. What is the most energy efficient cycle to wash and rinse your clothes on?
A. Cold-cold
B. Warm-cold
C. Hot-cold
D. Warm-cold

10. Which energy source produces the greatest amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide?
A. Natural gas
B. Nuclear
C. Oil
D. Coal

11. What type of sector uses the greatest amount of electricity?
A. Commercial and industrial
B. Restaurant and fast food
C. Residential
D. Institutional

 

Answers will be revealed later today!

Earth Day – Tuesday, April 22, 2015

When is Earth Day 2015? This observance always falls on April 22. On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, and companionship with nature! Walk through the woods in search of emerging wildflowers and green moss. Go outside, no matter what the weather!Earth Day, April 22

Earth Day History

Ever wondered how Earth Day started? This observance arose from an interest in gathering national support for environmental issues. In 1970, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. McConnell chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22. Millions of people participated, and today Earth Day continues to be widely celebrated with events on both dates. The most common practice of celebration is to plant new trees for Earth Day.

Plants that Attract Butterflies

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the following list of plants attract butterflies.

Purple coneflower and butterfly

Purple coneflowers are just one type of perennial that will attract butterflies.

It’s obvious: Butterflies and flowers were made for each other. As the poet pointed out, butterflies are flying flowers, and flowers are tethered butterflies.

In attracting butterflies to your garden, it’s important to understand what they want most out of life: nectar. The ancients, who believed that nectar fell directly from heaven, named it after the wines of the gods. A butterfly’s wish list also includes sunny open spaces, shelter from the wind, and fresh water.

For a nectar-rich flower border designed to satisfy these requirements, consider the plants listed below. Then invite a few butterflies over for a drink.

For a nectar-rich flower border designed to satisfy these requirements, consider the plants listed below. Then invite a few butterflies over for a drink.

Common Name                                       Latin Name
Allium                                                               Allium
Aster                                                                  Aster
Bee balm                                                          Monarda
Butterfly bush                                                 Buddleia
Catmint                                                            Nepeta
Clove                                                                 Pink Dianthus
Cornflower                                                      Centaurea
Daylily                                                             Hemerocallis
False indigo                                                    Baptisia
Fleabane                                                         Erigeron
Floss flower                                                   Ageratum
Globe thistle                                                 Echinops
Goldenrod                                                     Solidago
Helen’s flower                                              Helenium
Hollyhock                                                     Alcea
Lavender                                                       Lavendula
Lilac                                                              Syringa
Lupine                                                          Lupinus
Lychnis                                                        Lychnis
Mallow                                                        Malva
Milkweed                                                    Asclepias
Mint                                                            Mentha
Pansy                                                          Viola
Phlox                                                          Phlox
Privet                                                         Ligustrum
Purple coneflower                                  Echinacea
Rock cress                                                Arabis
Sage                                                          Salvia
Sea holly                                                  Eryngium
Shasta daisy                                           Chrysanthemum
Snapdragon                                           Antirrhinum
Stonecrop                                              Sedum
Sweet alyssum                                      Lobularia
Sweet rocket                                         Hesperis
Tickseed                                               Coreopsis
Zinnia                                                   Zinnia

Also, check out these two slideshows from Better Homes and Gardens are How to make a Butterfly Garden and Top plants for your Butterfly garden. The website also offers a free plan for a Butterfly Garden.

BHG Butterfly Garden

Better Homes & Garden offers a free butterfly garden plan. Check out more garden plans on the website.

It’s a Bird? A Plane? No… it’s a Super Moon!

Three rare celestial events will occur this Friday, March 20, 2015. The people of Earth will experience a solar eclipse and a Supermoon during the Spring Equinox. For more, read the following article by Andrew Griffin of The Independent(UK): “As the eclipse plunges the UK and other places into darkness this Friday, two other rare if less spectacular celestial events will be taking place, too: a Supermoon and the Spring equinox. A Supermoon, or perigee moon, happens when the full or new moon does its closest fly-by of the Earth, making it look bigger than it normally does. And the spring equinox refers to the time of the year when the day and night are of equal duration, mid-way between the longest and shortest days. The solar eclipse refers to a phenomenon where the sun and moon line up, so that the latter obscures the former. And while it won’t be affected by the two other events, it is rare that the three events happen even individually.

Supermoon

Perigee moon In images from NASA, this supermoon is seen over the The Peace Monument on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC

In images from NASA in 2014, this supermoon is seen over the The Peace Monument on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

Most of the time, there are between three and six Supermoons a year. There is set to be six in 2015, two of which have already happened. The next will take place on March 20, the day of the eclipse, and the others will come in August, September and October. Eclipses can only happen at new moon, when the moon appears is entirely in shadow. And the spectacular Supermoon images that are often spotted can only happen when the moon is full, since it can only be seen then. As a result, only the last three Supermoons of this year will be visible — because the moon is new rather than full on March 20, it won’t be seen. But it will be gliding past us closer than ever, and its shadow will be visible as it blocks out the sun on Friday morning.

Spring equinox

The equinox will also happen on March 20. While it won’t have any discernable, direct impact on how the solar eclipse looks, it will contribute to a rare collision of three unusual celestial events. On March 20, the Earth’s axis will be perpindecular to the sun’s rays — which only happens twice a year, at the two equinoxes. After that, it will start tipping over, making the days longer in the northern hemisphere. As such, the equinox has long been celebrated as a time of beginning and renewal, by a number of historic cultures, and is linked to Easter and Passover. The equinox will happen at the same time as a solar eclipse in 2053 and 2072, though it doesn’t always appear as close together as that.”

Snake of Sunlight

“The snake of sunlight” at Chichen Itza, Mexico. ©iStockphoto.com/CostinT

“The snake of sunlight” at Chichen Itza, Mexico.
©iStockphoto.com/CostinT

According to the website Time and Date.com, one of the most famous ancient Spring equinox celebrations was the Mayan sacrificial ritual by the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico. The main pyramid – also known as El Castillo – has four staircases running from the top to the bottom of the pyramid’s faces, notorious for the bloody human sacrifices that used to take place here. The staircases are built at a carefully calculated angle which makes it look like an enormous snake of sunlight slithers down the stairs on the day of the equinox. The Mayan calendar was very precise in this respect, but today the Mayan calendar is most famous for ending exactly at 11:11 UTC on the 2012 December Solstice. Knowledge of the equinoxes and solstices is also crucial in developing dependable calendars, another thing the Mayans clearly had got the hang of.