Encounters with nature and sustainability around Princeton in September.
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
September Nature Vignettes
When a house was torn down recently at the corner, I feared it would be replaced with something huge and unattractive,
Blooming along the fenceline next to the house are sunflowers and autumn clematis vine. Gorgeous as they are, thankfully generating color at a time when most flowers are spent, they are best not planted in a garden unless where the spread of their roots is limited by a house or pavement. Otherwise, given abundant sun to power their aggressively spreading roots, they will take over your garden.
Though it dies down to the ground each year like a perennial wildflower, pokeweed looks more like a miniature tree, and in fact it has a close relative in Argentina. The ombu grows to the size of a large tree, yet lacks xylem.
Actually, if you were trying to make Princeton sustainable, you might want to "farm" Princeton with smaller, short-lived trees that provide shade but are less expensive to take down. The above ground portions could be periodically harvested as a local energy source, and the roots left in the ground would sequester carbon. Trees are a source of solar energy, since they draw their carbon not from underground but from the atmosphere all around them. Thus, no net increase in atmospheric carbon from their combustion.
Finally, a grass encountered in fields and local rights of way. When its flowers open and display their golden anthers, this native member of the tallgrass prairies can be eye-catching. Indian grass, Sorghastrum nutans, reminds me of the midwest prairies I used to help manage, and a time long ago when prairie openings were common in the east as well.