O! See 18 Christmas trees all grown up

Visit Secrest Arboretum and see 18 examples of big, tall, still-growing Christmas trees. Read more, get their GPS locations and see photos of all 18. (There’s a slideshow, too, of their needles close up.) The arboretum is on CFAES’s Wooster campus. (Photo: Eastern white pine, Ken Chamberlain, CFAES.)

Sssselebrities to follow on Twitter

Follow Skeate, Arwen, Hermione and Mr. Darcy, among others — radiotagged timber rattlesnakes living in southeast Ohio woods — on the @TimberTweets Twitter feed by CFAES’s Peterman Lab. Lab staff are tracking the secretive snakes, an Ohio endangered species, to see how forest management affects them. Venomous but shy, with a taste for eating small rodents (including ones spreading Lyme disease), timber rattlers help ecosystems and, quietly, people.

Lab head Bill Peterman, assistant professor in CFAES’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, says, “I’ve had a passion for amphibians and reptiles since I was a kid catching frogs and snakes.” He’s in the video above.

March 2: How Cleveland’s vacant lots can help pollinators, stormwater retention and local food production

You’ve read about CFAES insect scientist Mary Gardiner’s research on Cleveland’s vacant lots here, for example, and here. Now you can hear her in person. She presents “Managing Vacant Land to Support Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services” in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences’ spring seminar series from 11:30 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. Wednesday at Ohio State in Columbus. You can watch by video link, too, at CFAES’s research arm, OARDC in Wooster. Find out more. Gardiner is also the author of last year’s Good Garden Bugs: Everything You Need To Know About Beneficial Predatory Insects (Quarry Books).

Just watch where you put your hands

Does whatever a spider canColumbus’s “Main Street bridge is crawling with spiders” — especially, it seems, its handrails. And in terms of the growing health of a restored section of the Scioto River, that’s good. CFAES’s Dave Shetlar is quoted. Mark Somerson of the Columbus Dispatch has the story. (Photo: Nathan Lovegrove, iStock.)

8 ways a city’s vacant lots can be good for the environment

Greening vacant lotsIn Cleveland, CFAES’s Mary Gardiner and her team are doing a large-scale, never-tried-before study. They’re evaluating eight different landscape treatments on 64 vacant lots in eight Cleveland neighborhoods. Why: To see how the treatments affect biodiversity and ecosystem function in the lots — and hopefully to come up with cheaper, greener options to just planting the lots with grass. Read more. (Find a New York Times story on the work here.)