Dig Deeper

Learning Resources

Orgs, Books, Newsletters

Educational organizations to learn from and/or support:

  • Ecological Landscape Alliance They describe themselves as a “vibrant community of landscape professionals” but everyone is welcome. They share a lot of information via informative articles, events and conferences. Lots to learn here, even without a membership.
  • Grow Native Massachusetts A Massachusetts nonprofit that hosts and records their winter Evenings with Experts. Their speakers come from across the Northeast US and their video archive dates back to 2015, all still useful information.
  • Homegrown National Park’s - Tallamy’s Hub  Entomologist/author Doug Tallamy posts episodic essays. His books, recent articles and many of his lecture recordings are found here, too. The main HNP site is new and growing, though still a work still in progress.
  • National Wildlife Federation Their National Wildlife Magazine and newsletters regularly feature informative and timely articles on creating and maintaining natural habitat with native plants to support diverse insects.
  • New Directions in the American Landscape Larry Weaner has been organizing annual conferences since 1990 for landscape architects and designers on his science based, ecological approach to landscape design. He views this work as managing succession over time to sustainable native plant communities. Since COVID, he and his staff have brought together top experts for online programming making it even more accessible and year round.
  • New Jersey Native Plant Society This is a highly informative website from learning native plants to how to use them successfully in our landscapes. We share most of their native plants and some of their warmer species will be moving northwards; a plant preview.
  • Wild Ones They host free webinars and provide popular downloadable Native Garden Plans for different areas of the country designed by professionals. Membership allows access to an informative quarterly  journal. One of the oldest nonprofits helping homeowners grow more native plants. 
  • Wild Seed Project A Maine nonprofit providing helpful info on returning more native plants to our roadsides, cities and yards. Also sells regionally sourced seeds.
  • Xerces Society A national organization that has worked on insect conservation at all land management levels from natural areas, range and agricultural acreage (biggest impact!) to urban areas, roadside right-of-ways to yards and gardens with their recent merger with BeeCity USA. They produce multiple useful publications, e.g. Pollinator Friendly Parks.

Books:

  • Best habitat garden handbook: The Pollinator Victory Garden by Kim Eierman! The author presents an engaging, well-researched summary of everything you need to know to start ecologically gardening and support pollinating insects. Lots of photos and helpful lists and reminders.  
  • Best book of plant lists for Vermont’s diverse natural communities: Wetland, Woodland, Wildland by Elizabeth Thompson, Eric Sorenson, Robert Zaino. Plants care about their site conditions and as a result tend to live in predictable “collaborations”. Learn more about the natural areas near you, similar to your site, and imitate these relationships in your habitat garden.
  • Best guide to restoring natural communities of (edible!) native plants: Wild Plant Culture by Jared Rosenbaum is a well researched and useful source for learning how to “see” a site and its plant communities including site lists of the edible and medicinal plants. In addition to his botanical expertise, he researched indigenous knowledge for the plant bios and his pragmatic site restoration guidance.
  • Heather Holm’s books on our native bees, wasps and their preferred native plants:
    • Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants. 2014. Her first book and a great starter book to start learning the multiple insect/plant relationships. She’s a great science writer, takes amazing photos, incorporates maps and useful diagrams.
    • Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide: Includes Tree, Shrub, and Perennial Plant Profiles for the Midwest, Great Lakes, and Northeast Region. 2017. Our copy of this award winning book’s spine is broken from so much use! Learn about nesting strategies, times of year each group of bees is active (usually once a season, some are twice!), and their preferred nectar, pollen and oil plant sources. 
    • Wasps: Their Biology, Diversity and Role as Beneficial Insects and Pollinators of Native Plants. 2021. To learn about the amazing predatory behaviors of wasps (some species anesthetize prey insects to leave in the individual nest chambers as “fresh food” for each egg!!), read this book with her amazing photos, succinct text, maps, quick guide, tables that track which wasps nectar at which native plants. Fascinating!

Our favorite e-newsletter/blogs (in addition to those from the educational organizations above):

  • Pulling It All Together:
    • The Humane Gardener by author and habitat consultant, Nancy Lawson, zooms in to the tiniest details of plants, wildlife, natural communities or zooms out to frame the larger ecological patterns and relationships. She synthesizes diverse research reports into compelling essays.
  • Plant Culture:
    • Indigescapes in Ohio specializes in Native Plant Agriculture and has an informative FaceBook site of food plant profiles with a slightly warmer climate focus..
    • Rebecca McMackin’s Grow Like Wild newsletter. She’s a hugely engaging speaker, writer and is Director of Horticulture at Brooklyn Bridge Park in NY, though she’s stepping aside for a year to pursue a prestigious Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
    • Wild Plant Culture blog is written by Jared Rosenbaum, a botanist and ecological restoration practitioner in NJ. He writes informative posts featuring different native plants, especially the edible ones! He also creates engaging short YouTube plant bios, Rooted Plant Videos.
  • Insects and Other Wildlife:
    • Naturally Curious with Mary Holland. Mary writes periodic short naturalist posts that include a photo. Several help us understand when those “seed eating” or “berry eating” birds do actually feed on insects, too! 
    • Tufts Pollinator Initiative newsletter. Tufts scientists and students plant and survey pollinator gardens, lead Pollinator Safaris and educate.Their social media presence is timely and informative, too.
    • Vermont Center for Ecostudies blog updates us on their latest research with native bees, other insects, bird migration amongst other topics. They have an amazing team of conservation biologists and research associates!

Recommended Videos

Creating Habitat

Learning Pollinators

Exploring Connections

Importance of Geology

Geology influences soil, which determines natural communities. Soils in Burlington and the Champlain Valley are strongly influenced by the history of glacial retreat following the last ice age. In the not-so-distant geologic past, the entirety of the Champlain Valley was underneath the massive freshwater glacial Lake Vermont and later the Champlain Sea arm of the Atlantic before becoming Lake Champlain. 

Sands and clays were deposited in layers around the bedrock outcrops that form the basis of our soils today. The larger rivers, like the Winooski, periodically disturbed this layering, adding localized deposits after major flood events along their lower reaches. Below is a map of the complex surficial deposits of sand and clay deposited in the Chittenden County area along the lower Winooski River.

To learn more, check out this talk by Norwich University geologist, George Springston, Vermont's Glacial Lakes and Geological History, presented at North Branch Nature Center for a deeper understanding.

The map was created at Vermont’s Natural Resources Atlas website. Look for the Layers tab at the bottom to explore the options.

Screenshot of superficial geology map of Burlington area

Grow Wild Info Seekers Newsletter Archive

You can view the archive here.

 

More on Insects

Info on Bees

Bees are fascinating! Check out our vetted resources about native bees:

Articles:

Insect Guides and Comprehensive Lists:

Fireflies

We’ve shamelessly copied Rebecca McMackin’s excellent description of fireflies from her Grow Like Wild - Buck Moon #11 newsletter. 

Here’s Rebecca’s words:

I got to go on NPR and talk about Fireflies!! It was awesome. BBP Gardener Pawel Pieluszyński and I spoke about their life cycles, behavior, and how to encourage them in the landscape. We didn’t have time to get into everything so I’ll try to list a few tips below.

  • Leave the leaves and wet spots: Fireflies lay eggs on moist soil and plant material. They live as soil-dwelling glow worms for a year or two before taking to the skies.
  • Plant native plants: fireflies are carnivorous as larvae. They eat snails and worms, all the animals attracted to a robust garden ecosystem. And adults sometimes nectar on milkweed.
  • Don’t use pesticides or fertilizers: Fireflies spend most of their lives in the soil. So anything you put down to kill grubs or “pests” will kill them as well. And synthetic fertilizers break down the basis of the soil food-web.
  • Reduce nighttime lighting: Like many animals, light pollution is a major problem for fireflies, as they can’t see each other’s flashes with competing lights. Lights can be put on motion sensors or timers. Shields can be put on bulbs so they only shine where needed. And bulbs should always be yellow LED, rather than white.
  • Enjoy them! Seriously, this is magical stuff. How crazy are we as a culture that we don’t all spend these nights on picnic blankets drinking wine and watching the show? They return to the same spots to flash each year. And you can impress your friends by learning to read their flashes and relate the sordid tale of the femme fatal fireflies, luring males to a grisly end.