By C. Rae Hozer
Today’s technology enables cell phone and Internet communications from around the globe at speeds unheard of in prior millennia. Videos are recorded and shared with the world on YouTube. Folks tweet on Twitter. Nearly instantaneous text messages about and cell phone photos of events in distant lands are just one benefit of connectivity in this age of electronics. Anyone with internet access can also contribute information to various online scientific projects and access the data collected there with ease. Input from interested observers worldwide combined with data gathered by professionals working for museums, universities, and government study groups lets scientists concentrate their time and available funds on analysis rather than on amassing raw information.
I have tapped online data when researching articles. In 2011, the Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) project was a good source when writing about butterfly habitat. BAMONA’s Identification Tools page, www.butterfliesandmoths.org/identification_tools, lists links for online butterfly and moth identification and for online caterpillar ID as well as names print books and field guides.
The image gallery has photographs posted by site-users each with a species profile accessible by clicking on the scientific name under the picture. I submitted photos of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) caterpillars munching common milkweed in my roadside butterfly meadow. Sad to say this spring the weather was cold, the milkweed plants grew really late and there have been no monarch caterpillars or adults to report this entire 2013 season. On the other hand, swallowtail butterflies are flocking to tall purple garden phlox near the front walk right now.
This spring and again in August I went to Journey North (http://www.learner.org/jnorth/), an online study of global wildlife migration and seasonal change, to check the latest posts on hummingbird migration. There has been no recent sign of the female ruby throated hummer who nests on our property. She and her offspring have probably gone south already. Now, we see mostly migrating males around the feeders. Tis the nature of hummingbirds to fly up and at each other hoping to drive one another away from a food source. Sometimes a single male will sit nearby to prevent others from coming in to feed. Despite those posturing and intimidation tactics, ruby throated hummingbirds still manage to sneak in and suck up nectar at one or another of the four widely spaced feeders in our yard.
My request for information from "Plateau Gardening" readers is not part of a grand scientific study or massive data accumulation on the scale of those previously described. I am simply puzzled about something and would like gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberlands region to email me (MGardenerRae@frontiernet.net) if you are now growing or have grown in the past the Weigela florida shrub with dark purple leaves named Wine and Roses. When did you plant the shrub? How long have you grown it? Has it performed well?
See photo of a young Wine and Roses Weigela in the Tree and Shrub Garden planted by Master Gardeners in 2005 at Discovery Gardens. This specimen promised to survive temperatures as low as 30 degrees and thrive in hardiness zones 4a to 8b. The size at maturity was expected to be 4 to 5 feet in height with a spread of about 5 feet.
I was smitten by its good looks. It seemed a spectacular landscape plant at first but later died out. Was it a mismatch to this particular site or have other gardeners in the area been unsuccessful with this variety, too?
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Plateau Gardening is written by Master Gardeners for gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland Region. Contact UT Extension Cumberland County at P.O. Box 483, Crossville, TN 38557 (484-6743) for answers to horticulture questions, free publications and how to become a Master Gardener. Send email comments or yard and garden inquiries to Master Gardener Rae, MGardenerRae@frontiernet.net.