Tag Archives: nature

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl pastel copyright

This soft pastel painting was inspired by a lovely wilderness-filled summer haunted by the calls of a pair of these tiny “cat-faced” owls whose eyes seem to be the biggest part of their bodies.  Saw-whet owls are found throughout the United States and southern Canada but this little guy will feel right at home just about anywhere you want to hang him.  As a lover of birds in general, I have an especially soft spot for owls. This large 9×12 pastel painting fits into an 11×14 frame, but if you opt for a larger frame with plenty of matting this work of art will be the focal point of any room.  This original one-of-a-kind work of art can be yours for only $225.00 plus S&H.  Check out more of Jill’s work at https://foreverpetportraits.wordpress.com/ 

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A Bygone Bee Gum

Bygone Bee Gum - Image copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress (4)

Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

I love history. Particularly when  I find it in a far-flung or unexpected place.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a tree with a huge hole in the side of it.  Of course, it’s not uncommon to find trees with natural cavities in them around these parts, but this particular breach was not made by nature or time, but by man – and for a very specific purpose.

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Flycatchers: The Gardener’s Friend

By Peter Wilton (Eastern Phoebe  Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsShow Me Oz – People sometimes laugh when I tell them that I always know when spring is about to dawn on our Ozark homestead – even if it’s freezing outside.  It’s not the weather, or the slight budding of plants that clue me in.  And it’s not the warmth of the sun or my local weatherman, either.  No, the way I know that spring is on it’s way is when I hear the first shrill song of the Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe).  This slim, mousy-grey flycatcher with a creamy-colored belly and a big voice has a penchant for perching on low, leafless branches and compulsively wagging its long tail up and down.  And it’s one bird that every gardener should hope for.

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Nature Notes: Exploring the Great Sleep

Winter Landscape Copyright Jill Henderson-Show Me OzBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I like to refer to winter as The Great Sleep, because although life outside the window pane seems dull and lifeless, it is anything but. Yet to find that elusive bit of life, one must go in search of it. Even this self-avowed nature freak has to remind herself of this from time to time. So today, I took a stroll through the woods with my eyes – and my senses – wide open.

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Nature Notes: Milkweed, Monarchs and You!

Close up of Purple Milkweed flowers. Copyright Jill Henderson ShowMeOz.wordpress.comShow Me Oz

As a gardener and lover of nature, I garden with butterflies and beneficial insects in mind.  Yet, for all my efforts, the one North American butterfly that I have failed to lure to my garden is the bright and beautiful Monarch.  For years I thought the failure was mine, but the truth is that these icons of the butterfly world are in dire straights and their numbers are spiraling dangerously downward.  The good news is that there is something we can all do to help them – and all their colorful kin – to flourish once again.

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Nature Notes: The Silent and Unseen

By Joshua Mayer (Flickr: Flying Squirrel on Roof) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commonsby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This story happened many moons ago in a garden we used to tend.  It was a sultry late summer morning and Dean and I were meandering through the garden discussing future chores.  We were having a nice walkabout, chatting and discussing one thing or another, and I suddenly turned to him and said, “Do you feel like someone is watching us?”  His perplexed look answered my question and should have set me straight, but I just couldn’t shake the strange feeling I’d had all summer long.  Someone or something had been watching me.

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America’s Native Bamboo – Part II – Identification and Culture

2012 2-13 February Snow (15)by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In last week’s article, America’s Native Bamboo: History and Ecology, we learned that America was once home to massive colonies of native bamboo, better known as canebrakes. These lush cane forests played a critical role in the ecology of the regions they inhabited by filtering sediments, controlling erosion and providing food and shelter for many native animal and bird species. Cane also played an important role in the lives of the earliest inhabitants who valued it as a nutritional food plant and an important material used to fashion tools, weapons and lodging. In the early days of settlement, America’s native cane fields were first used to fatten cattle and then cleared for farmland. Today, a whopping 98% of America’s once-abundant native bamboo has been extirpated from the landscape. This week, I will discuss the ways in which native bamboos are being used in restoration projects and how we can help return them to their rightful place in nature and beautify the home landscape, all at the same time.

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America’s Native Bamboo – Part I – History and Ecology

Switch Cane copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Mention the word bamboo and most people in the Western world naturally think of panda bears, China and steamy exotic jungles. In fact, the majority of the 1,450 species of bamboo in the world do originate in countries located in South and Southeastern Asia, with a few scattered species in Saharan Africa and the very farthest regions of South America. In these places, native bamboo species can grow as dense as the thickest forest you can imagine and produce giant canes as big around as small trees, while others are as diminutive and slender as a clump of our native Big Bluestem.  In fact, bamboo is actually a grass belonging to the Poaceae or True Grass family. With over 10,000 recognized species, true grasses represent the fifth largest plant family on earth. Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that the United States has three very distinct native species of bamboo, known collectively as river cane.

The New Nature

by Allison Vaughn – Guest Post

Recently, there has been a surge in literature throughout the conservation community highlighting the importance of native plant gardening for the sustainability of wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation writes that chickadees, for example, require 5,000 insects from native plants to successfully rear a clutch. I trust them, just as I do Doug Tallamy’s fantastic book that highlights the importance of converting landscapes from turf to native flora to benefit wildlife. These and a myriad of other articles have positively impacted many communities now embracing native plantings in urban areas; they have reinvigorated Wild Ones chapters, native plant enthusiasts, and wildlife advocates. Add to the resurgence in growing natives are the reports of impacts to non-target wildlife from the widespread broadcasting of glyphosate and other herbicides in an effort for a “weed-free” lawn, and so forth. The assault on wildlife and the natural world is pervasive with sprawling development, wanton abuse of chemicals, regular thumbing of the nose to regulatory agencies and procedures that were put into place in the 1970s during the heyday of the environmental movement.

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Pure Momentum Network Interview

Pure Momentum Network Interview

Yesterday’s interview with Pamela Tartar on the Pure Momentum Network .

Click on the image or the link below to listen:

http://puremomentum.net/hosts-2/november/factor-nine-jill-henderson-seed-saving-gmos-seasons-in-nature-herbs-water-and-fracking/

Nature Notes: Sinkholes and Springs in the Ozarks

Boze Mill Springby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Karst is crucial to the biodiversity of the Ozark region. At some point in its travel from heaven to sea, nearly three-quarters of the water in our rivers, streams, springs, aquifers, and wells have been filtered through this fractured limestone.  This massive system of water movement and erosion is what makes karst one of the most bountiful and fragile geologic formations in the world.  And while it’s beau  Some of the water that falls or runs across our hills will become forever locked below the surface in aquifers, but a larger portion of it reemerges somewhere on the surface, usually in the form of a spring or a seep, or a wet weather stream.

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The Sound of Nature

Barred Owl in the RainBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This morning I woke at 4:00 am.  The crescent moon was high in the eastern sky casting it’s milky light into the open spaces on the edge of the woods. In the deep shadowy crevices the cicadas and crickets wound down the night’s exuberance in a fading farewell hum.  I stood at the open window, basking in the slightly cool breeze coming down the mountain and relishing the silence when suddenly a series of piercingly eerie shrieks broke the spell.  The suddenness of it startled me, but my instinct was answer with my own crazy whoop and scream, which would surely have woken the house. Instead, I silently searched the branches of the tall, dark oak beside the house for the Cheshire Cat of raptors.

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Violets and the Great Spangled Fritillary

Fritillaries on Milkweedby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I know I promised this article a couple of weeks ago, but between blackberry pickin’, the garden and seed saving classes, I just couldn’t get back to it.  But while we were up berry pickin’, we saw lots of butterflies – including the Great Spangled Fritillary.  Of course, I love all butterflies, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Fritillaries because of their softly muted-orange coloration and complex wing patterns in brown, black and silver.  I had been wanting to entice more fritillaries to the garden but wasn’t sure what to do, so you can imagine my excitement when I realized I had already done it!

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Wild Walk: Spring Beauties

Image00046It’s been a busy spring here on Turtle Ridge.  We finally got the warm up we’ve been waiting for to really get the spring garden growing.  While we were waiting for sunny days and spring showers to germinate our seeds, I took a little time to go wild.

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Flicking Feathers

2008-3 -  April sunrise (27)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

If someone had told me when I was younger that I would actually enjoy being awake before dawn, I would have laughed.  But over the years I have developed the habit of waking up with the sun.   And since we turned the clocks forward in anticipation of the Spring Equinox on March 20th,  I’ve been up  just in time to witness the rising sun as it paints the eastern sky with watercolor shades of pink and yellow; everything looks so new and fresh in the muted light of dawn and life is just beginning to stir in the dark recesses of the woods.

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Notes From Turtle Ridge: A Year in Review

2013 12-5 Winter Storm (19)I can hardly believe that in just a few more days, the old year will end and the new year will begin.  The time has flown by so fast, I can hardly believe it’s here already.  So to stick with the theme of celebrations, I thought I’d take a quick look back at a few highlights of the year 2013 here in Oz.  I hope you’ll join me.

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Winter Colors: The Spirit of Place

2002 - 10 - Noblett Lake - lovely colorBy Sara Firman (Sulis)

In the world of home interiors, natural tones, are often boring neutrals.  Yet the natural world is never boring or neutral.  Even in winter, colors abound.  Continue reading

Striped Scorpion Surprise

Striped Scorpion - © 2013 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This morning I found this little Striped Scorpion (Centruroides vittatus) in the gravel near our front porch.  Although they might look quite ferocious, these tiny, one and a half inch arachnids are shy and rarely seen.  This one wanted nothing to do with me and wanted nothing more than to hide as I attempted to take it’s photograph.  Even after nudging it into the open several times, it never once tried to sting me. 

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Rain: The Spark of Creation

Rainbow after the storm. © Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Excerpted from my book, A Journey of Seasons:  A Year in the Ozarks High Country.  Available in print and eBook in the Show Me Oz bookstore.

It’s amazing what a little rain can do during a drought.  Before our last bout of rain, the grass was brown and so brittle that it crunched beneath our feet.  But after the rain, the grass and all the native plants in the meadow turned a vibrant green and the once silent meadow suddenly came alive with the songs of happy frogs, crickets and cicadas.  This seemingly incredible transformation is not as uncommon as it might seem. 

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Black Swallowtail Butterfly Larva

Have you seen these caterpillars in your garden?

Black Swallowtail Butterfly LarvaThese are pretty Black Swallowtail butterfly larva  that recently hatched on my dill and fennel, which are both primary food plants for this species. Without these specific plants, the caterpillars will die and no butterflies will be produced.

black swallowtail butterflyTo preserve a colony of black swallowtails in your yard, consider planting a patch of dill or fennel away from the main garden as food for these flying flowers. That way, you can relocate destructive caterpillars found on garden crops to those in the butterfly plot.  If you like butterflies, you might also like to read my article Flying Flowers: The Beauty of Butterflies.

Enjoy!  ShowMeOz.Wordpress.com

Floating an Ozark River

http://www.elevenpointriver.org/By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This morning Dean and I were having our morning coffee and watching the news, when the weatherman casually mentioned that the temperature today will be dangerously hot with a heat index of around 105° F.  Dean looked across the table at me scratching myself bloody from all the new chigger bites I acquired this week and thoughtfully suggested we hit the river for a cool, bug free day of floating.  I was up and in my bathing suit before the last words came out of his mouth.

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Peepers Call for the Awakening

Spring_peeper_(SC_woodlot)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

The Vernal equinox, also known as the Spring Equinox, marks a point when day and night become equal in length for a short time all over the world.  This stellar event marks our astrological trip into spring and the long-awaited wakening from the Great Sleep.  As if on cue, the first creatures to respond were the Peepers – those incredibly small amphibians readily identified by a conspicuous X-mark across their backs – as if picked out by the Creator for a very special purpose.

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Alien Invaders: Armadillos in the Midwest

Nine-banded ArmadilloBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Many people who don’t live in the Ozarks are surprised to learn that there are armadillos here. This is obviously because most people do not associate these odd animals with the mid-south, but rather think of them as creatures from such dry states as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  While I never thought much about armadillos before I came here, I have come to learn the hard way that they are both an intriguing and terribly frustrating creature.  And while I am a self-avowed animal lover, I must admit that my frustration with this scaly critter has occasionally reached murderous proportions.

Return to the Wild: A Deer Story

Daisy says hello.   Image by Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

About this time last year, Dean and I were working on a new garden bed beside the front porch.  It had been a warm spring and the weather was perfect for working outdoors.  We were both intently hacking away at the compacted soil with our shovels and rakes when I happened to look up.  What I saw took my breath away.   Not two feet from Dean stood a doe quietly nibbling at the clover in the grass.  My heart raced.  This couldn’t be happening, could it?  She was close enough to touch.  Thinking she would bound away at the slightest breath, I stood like a statue, absorbing every little detail.  She raised her head and looked into my eyes and right then, I knew she was no ordinary deer.

Winter Blahs? Let’s Feed the Birds!

Male Red-breasted Nuthatch By Daniel Novak

Feeding and watching birds in the summer, spring and fall can be an enjoyable family pursuit and winter should be no different. While many of the birds we often see at other times of year travel to warmer climates for the winter a few hardy souls remain. Inasmuch as feeding can attract a plethora of birds for our viewing enjoyment it can actually be integral in seeing our feathered friends through a tough time of year when other food sources may be scarce or absent. Here are a few basic winter bird feeding tips that will keep birds happy and coming back day after day.

Alley Spring: An Ozark Landmark (Part II)

Alley Mill - Photo NPSPart Two
By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

The Ozarks are famous for their grist mills in the way Vermont is famous for its fall colors, or Maine for its maple syrup and Pennsylvania for its covered bridges.  Last week we talked about the history and historic significance of Alley Mill and one cannot talk about the mill and not mention the stunningly beautiful spring-fed mill pond.   Yet, as impressive as those things are, what I really love about Alley Spring – and what my little botanists’ heart craves most – is  the plant-watching.

Alley Spring: An Ozark Landmark (Part I)

PAlley Mill - Photo NPSart One
By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

When Dean and I get visitors from out of town who want to see something of the real Ozarks, we often take them down to Alley Spring down in Shannon County along the banks of the Jack’s Fork River.  We bring our visitors here because we know that regardless of their age, physical ability or interests, everyone can find something to love about one of the Ozarks most beloved historic sites and natural areas. Continue reading

Wild Walk: A Touch of Winter

Fiery Fall Leaves © 2012 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

As the hours of daylight become blatantly shorter, the journey of seasons moves quickly towards the Great Sleep of Winter.   Despite the prolonged drought, Ozarkers everywhere enjoyed a most spectacular fall color display.  In all my years of living in the Ozarks, I can’t remember a fall as beautiful as this one.   But now that the Autumn show is over, the curtain is coming down in a torrent of swirling leaves and piling up in huge ankle-deep drifts that blanket the earth in gold.  And yet, the falling is far from over.   For even now, the leaves cling to the remnants of their arboreal lives – resisting their eventual future as rich dark humus and rattling their final farewells at the slightest breeze.

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Reflections and the Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse by Mike's Birds via Wikimedia CommonsBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz
A Journey of Seasons

This morning I was standing on the porch enjoying my morning coffee when I was suddenly struck by the unusual absence of any kind of sound or movement.  The trees didn’t sway and not a creature stirred.  Even the air stood still.  I was marveling at the odd and unnatural silence of the forest when suddenly a flurry of small, gregarious chickadees, titmice, juncos and nuthatches suddenly rained down upon the yard, filling the air with their busy chatter and my heart with a childish happiness.  Among the festive band of feathered friends were a large and noisy group of titmice.  These friendly, acrobatic birds seemed the busiest and most vocal of the group and my attention naturally turned to them.

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Gardening With Wildlife: Beefing Up Your Habitat

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

(Excerpted in part from A Journey of Seasons: A Year in the Ozarks High Country)

One of the coolest things about being a country gardener is that I am constantly surrounded by wild things.  These creatures are part and parcel of a healthy ecosystem and one of the rarest and most precious gifts that one can have.  However, it goes without saying that on occasion we are forced to butt heads with the very wildlife that we cherish.  Whether it’s the birds eating the blueberries, squirrels in the peach tree or a rabbit in the cabbage patch, we sometimes have to go to war to protect our share of the harvest.  And after years of living and gardening in the backwoods I have learned that all creatures are compelled to survive, and that the best deterrent for pesky garden critters is to create a place for them to do just that.

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A Beeline for Spring

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz
– – –
Today is the Vernal Equinox, the celestial event that marks the point in time when day and night become equal in length and spring officially begins.  Of course, here in the Ozarks, spring has been well under way for several weeks now.  Even before the first daffodil bloomed, the signs were all around us, especially winged kind.  I always know spring has arrived when  the moths begin beating against the windows at night and when sleep-drunk wasp queens drift on the breeze and buzzing bees begin searching for the first flowers of the season.

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Winter Landscapes in the Ozarks

We’ve been offline all week as we waited for our new computer.  Since I was not able to finish the second installment of America’s Native Bamboo in time for this week’s post, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite winter scenes.

I’ll be back next week with a healthy article entitled: America’s Native Bamboo: Identification & Culture.  I hope to see you then. Continue reading

Bob Ross and Titmice: A Meditation on Conservation

BobRoss1oilBy Jill Henderson

Saturday morning I was curled up in a blanket watching Bob Ross paint a winter landscape on PBS.  I was enjoying his rapturous meditation on loving life and the subtle nuances of painting glacial mountains against a blue sky when a slight movement outside the window caught my eye. Like a cat to a bit of bright yarn, my eyes were immediately drawn to a silky grey titmouse flirting in the low branches of the oak tree.

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Fall Frenzy: A Skink Story

fall leavesBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz –

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, but it is also one of the busiest. Between winterizing the garden, gathering wild edibles, bringing in firewood, and generally readying ourselves and the homestead for the winter to come, it seems to me that we have been in perpetual motion – a frenzy, if you will.  A word that seems to convey just a touch of obsessive compulsive behavior that can sometimes lead to strains, and bruises and bumps.  But we humans are not the only creatures driven to frenzy in our preparations for the coming winter.  In fact, sometimes the frantic nature of animals searching for food, mates and shelter lands them in a slippery situation.

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Walking Across Boulders

File:Alvar2.JPGBy Allison Vaughn

During winter months, I take literally hundreds of photos that (upon a quick scan of each folder) all look the same: golden grass, gray trees, blue skies, dolomite boulders. I like the structure of the winter landscape, the silvery old growth chinquapin oaks, the open-grown post oaks, and the exposed geology.

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Great Horned Owls – Giants of the Forest

By Jill Henderson Show Me Oz

Last night, as I stood outside admiring the way the stars danced brightly in the clear dark winter sky,  I heard the unmistakably deep, resonating call of one of the Ozarks most reclusive giants –  the great horned owl.

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Persimmon Pickin’ Time – Part I

American PersimmonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Fall is probably one of the most beloved times of year here in the Ozarks. The scorching heat of summer and irresistibly itchy bug bites are long forgotten and the days are sparkling and fresh. Oftentimes, the unexpected warmth of the fall sun weaves itself in between the bristly cool mornings and frosty nights and we are teased out into the deeper reaches of the landscape for a little adventure.  Continue reading

Being Chosen and the Spirit of Place

Susan Minyard - www.sweetwaterpottery.bizBy Sara Firman (Sulis)

You can’t choose, it seems, without being chosen. For the place, in return had laid its claims on me and had made my life answerable to it…’ Wendell Berry in Jayber Crow.

I’ve lived in the Ozarks since the summer of 2002 when I happened to be passing through. Without meaning to, I fell in love with a piece of land; and, as love goes, jumped into its arms without much further thought.  The result was as tumultuous as you might expect. Continue reading

Snakes: Friend or Foe?

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

All summer long Dean and I have been having a serious problem with a mouse in the engine compartment of our car, where it has been tearing up insulation and chewing through wires.  We have repeatedly fished out wads of grass and other nesting materials that the mouse has drug under the hood thinking the engine compartment would make a great winter den.  The damage from the mouse’s nocturnal goings on was beginning to get out of hand, but despite all our efforts we could not catch it, or kill it, or persuade it to leave. Continue reading