Phenology updates, spring 2019

Bumble bee phenology: look for queens flying when Virginia bluebells flowers.

Hello phenology fans! I wanted to let you know about some changes happening this year with the OSU Phenology Garden Network…..but first, I want to thank our many amazing volunteers and cooperators.  Our volunteers have done everything including installing gardens, collecting data, hosting educational phenology programs for the public, observing pollinators and even relocating gardens as they outgrew their spaces. I want to thank everyone who has been an enthusiastic partner — particularly those who have been involved with the project since its inception in 2004! Together we have helped thousands of people gain an appreciation for phenology.

If you’re like me, phenology has changed your outlook and your life! There’s no “unseeing” nature’s sequence once you focus your lens. I feel fortunate for the privilege to work with so many dedicated volunteers over the last 15 years. Thank you so much!

  • I hinted last year that changes would be coming to the plant data collection effort. As of 2019, OSU will no longer be collecting plant phenology data. The USA National Phenology Network has agreed to archive the OSU Phenology Garden Network data. If your site would like to continue to observe and gather plant phenology data, I recommend that you link with the USA National Phenology Network’s Nature’s Notebook program.  They will also provide training to sites interested in collecting phenology data through Nature’s Notebook. Lorianne Barnett of NPN will host a webinar on April 23rd at 11AM for anyone interested in Nature’s Notebook training. About a third of the OSU Network plants are on the Nature’s Notebook site, and more can potentially be added. Please contact Lorianne to register for this webinar.
  • Of course, your phenology garden can continue on however it makes sense at your location whether or not you decide to collect and submit data through Nature’s Notebook or The Great Sunflower Project.
  • Some garden sites have transitioned to include pollinator habitat demonstration. Thanks to a Pollinator Health grant, we are again able to provide flats of native perennials for educational or demonstration sites across the state. These can be phenology garden sites, but could also be other public demonstration sites not formerly part of the OSU Phenology Garden Network. This year, we have flats of native perennials used by specialist bees (4 plants each of 8 different species from the list below). We can also provide up to three flats (32 plugs each) of common milkweed Asclepias syriaca for educational/demonstration use (not private lands/gardens). These plants will be available for pickup at Secrest Arboretum on May 2nd from 10AM to 12 Noon. We will gather in Miller Pavilion to have a short program, distribute plants and take a phenology walk in the arboretum with Dan Herms. Register here to reserve plants to pick up on May 2nd! 

We will also have a limited number of tall metal plant markers for sale $4 each on May 2nd (bring a cash or a check made payable to Lora Avens). Reserve markers on the “reserve plants” link above.

Native perennials for specialist bees. This is our master list of plants we’re growing for demonstration and habitat projects, including making bee observations through The Ohio Bee Atlas project on iNaturalist:

Ratibida columnifera, upright prairie coneflower

Ratibida pinnata, pinnate prairie coneflower

Solidago nemoralis, gray goldenrod

Solidago rigida, stiff goldenrod

Solidago speciosa, showy goldenrod

Symphyotrichum leave, smooth blue aster

Symphyotrichum lateriflorum , calico aster

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, New England aster

Vernonia fasciculata, prairie ironweed

Veronicastrum virginianum, culver’s root

Zizia aurea, golden Alexanders

Be sure to let me know what questions you have, and thanks again for sharing your time and talents with the OSU Phenology Network, whether you’re a recent or long-time cooperator!

Best wishes for a warm, sunny spring,


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