GREEN THOUGHTS: A “plastic” plant with real history

ALTHOUGH WE LOVE FORSYTHIA, the shrub with the colorful yellow flowers which fade into seasonal green leaves, many gardeners don’t consider it a very interesting plant. However, even forsythia’s history contains many interesting quirks and curiosities.

First, there are actually several species of forsythia. Many plants are hybrids, technically called Forsythia x intermedia, but there is also weeping forsythia (Forsythia suspensa) and greenstem forsythia (Forsythia viridissima), to name just two.

With hundreds of named varieties that look similar, and with much confusion as to what is what in the nursery trade, many folks just give up and call it all forsythia. That’s okay, except when it comes to hardiness. Read more…

HEALTH: Opioid OD spike, Donate blood, CMH ball date

Opioid overdoses spike again

HUDSON—The Columbia County Department of Health reports in an April 21 press release that the county is in its second opioid overdose spike since the beginning of the NY on PAUSE social distancing order. In all, Columbia County has seen 19 overdoses since March 1.

It is likely that this dramatic uptick is connected to the Covid-19 pandemic and the cancellation/postponement of events, holidays, and closing of schools and many workplaces. This incredible reduction in human physical contact that is saving the public’s health is also putting those in active addiction and those in recovery at risk.

In these trying times, reach out to those you know who struggle. Human interaction does not have to mean physical contact. Continue to stay home, but make it a point to call, video chat, text message loved ones at least a few times a day. Being stuck at home is a perfect time to cultivate supportive relationships in one’s life, eat well, practice mindfulness, get in some exercise, and get good, quality sleep. Read more…

COMMUNITY BRIEFS: April 23 through 30

All’s quiet in the ‘dog bark’

GERMANTOWN—Effective April 23, Palatine Bark, the Germantown dog park, is closed until further notice. Town officials say they cannot properly manage social distancing and safety during this time.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Germantown Town Hall, including all offices, will remain closed until at least May 31.

The Kellner Community Activity Building and the Parsonage are also closed until further notice. Read more…

LIBRARIES: Roe Jan, Claverack, Hudson

Saturday brings free webinar on native trees, shrubs
COPAKE—In celebration of Earth Day, a free webinar on native trees and shrubs takes place via Zoom on Saturday, April 25, from 10 to 11 a.m., presented by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties, in partnership with the Roeliff Jansen Community Library.
Master Gardener Tim Kennalty will lead a lesson on how native shrubs, trees, and other wildlife can provide beauty and structure to landscape and help preserve nature.
This program is being held in lieu of Cornell’s Spring Gardening Day and the Roe Jan Library’s earlier scheduled program on this topic, which were cancelled this year in accordance with current health and safety measures. Read more…

THROUGH THE WOODS: What happened to spring?

A few days ago the weatherman said we might get a little snow or rain. It turned out to be some rain, then high winds, snow and power outages. The snow kept on up here in the hills of Austerlitz with white-outs and deepening snow. It looked like the middle of winter. Birch trees were bent over around the field, trees were covered with thick snow, and the poor birds and wildlife didn’t come out until the worst of the storm calmed down in the afternoon. Fearing damage I checked out the stand of evergreens east of the house. All seemed to be well. It was interesting to see the birds flying under cover above me. We all had the same idea. Thankfully it didn’t last too long.

Male Cardinal in a pine tree by Nancy Jane Kern.

The next day there were a few inches of snow that melted when the sun came out. The 40mph+ wind gusts roared across the yard to bend even substantial oak trees. Lots of twigs and small branches came down and there were no birds except one poor crow who attempted to fly across the field behind the house. It twisted about, rose and fell, and finally made it to some trees, probably taking shelter in one of the thick pines. The ground was white, there was less wind, and steady snow came from the east.

This is the kind of storm we see in mid-March, not in April. One of our eastern Phoebes was back last week eating flies emerging from the porch ceiling. It looked nice and fat so should survive without insects for awhile. I stopped feeding the birds because the black bears are out of hibernation, but it was so bad I took a chance and put out some corn and sunflower seed. I spread it on the porch railing and filled one feeder. Read more…