Volume 1 Issue 3 November 2020
Turkey talk, the last of the leaf raking, birds gone south – it must be November! 
Look Around
Gratitude. Studies have shown that a moment spent in gratitude at the beginning and end of the day can color it with a sense of health and well-being. If you’re in need of material for this daily exercise, put on your overcoat and walking shoes and head outside for inspiration. Our landscape is less cluttered now. Chimney swifts, with their nighttime acrobatics, warblers, hummingbirds, and many other bird species have gone south. Toads, frogs, and snakes, unable to regulate their body temperatures, have burrowed deep into the soil or mud for their winter accommodations. Insects are tucked away in egg, pupae, larval or adult form to pass the cold days to come. Their metabolism slows down and their own type of antifreeze keeps their engines running.
There are new guests in the neighborhood. Carolina wrens, red-breasted nuthatches, and dark-eyed juncos have flown south from their Canadian haunts to our neighborhoods and consider us their warm-weather retreat. 
As gardeners, we know very well that deer and rabbits can brave our Ohio winters, as they nibble at tree bark and make topiaries of our conifers. Squirrels and chipmunks still scurry about, amusing us with their antics. Mice have wallpapered their winter abodes with feather, fur, thistle down, milkweed fibers, and other soft materials for a comfortable home base from which to do their winter foraging. Not so apparent are the foxes, as they venture out from their dens in their beautiful, thick winter coats for winter meals of mice, chipmunks or small rabbits. They prefer nighttime hunting, and an occasional daytime sighting is a treat. Opossums, skunks, raccoons – they’re all equipped for winter activity, and like most animals we see in winter have stored up fat reserves to help them navigate the cold days ahead.
A stop by a berried bush or the birdfeeder tells us that winter birds abound. Black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, woodpeckers, owls, herons, wild turkeys – the list of winter inhabitants goes on. 
A leisurely stop to watch can reward us with the gift of so many sights that our usual busyness prevents, and helps fill the gratitude bucket for later contemplation. A pair of walking shoes, our overcoat, and perhaps a notebook for our discoveries – look around.
Leaf Brief - Ginkgo
Oh, the lovely ginkgo! Its unique fan-shaped leaves have inspired artists and gardeners alike. Eye-catching in the summer, autumn is when the ginkgo really shows its stuff! The last hardwood to turn color in the fall, its bright green leaves tend to turn en masse to a vibrant eye-catching yellow. Ginkgo leaves drop quickly, especially following a freeze, leaving a bold carpet of yellow leaves on the ground.

A native of Eastern China, the ginkgo can be a large tree, 40-80 feet tall and 30-40 feet wide with a conical shape. It makes a good shade tree, especially in large open areas, and prefers deep sandy soils and moderate moisture, but seems to do just fine in our local conditions. It is tolerant of pollution, salt and heat so has possible use as a street tree. It is also deer resistant.

Not every yard can accommodate such a large tree but growers have been busy cultivating new varieties, many of them dwarf. This includes Ginkgo biloba ‘Chi Chi’, a rounded dwarf form that grows to 5.5’ and ‘Majestic Butterfly’ an upright form with spectacular green, yellow and white variegated foliage. 

Ginkgo is one of the oldest tree species with fossils discovered dating back 270 million years. It was rediscovered in China in 1691 and brought to the U.S. in the late 1700s. Also referred to as the Maidenhair Tree, its leaf shape is similar to that of the maidenhair fern. Rich in flavonoids and terpenoids, the ginkgo is renowned for its medicinal properties and is thought to aid circulation and memory.

One drawback to the ginkgo is the female fruits, which can be malodorous (but edible) and can be slippery if they fall on hard surfaces. For this reason, most nurseries only sell the male variety.
Creature Feature - A Communication from the Wild
Pssst! Over here! Behind the tree. You gotta be careful this time of year when you’re the most hunted bird in North America!

Call me Tom, and let’s talk turkey! I’m a gobbler - my gal pals are hens. Babies are poults, young males are jakes, young females are jennies. A flock of turkeys is also a “crop”, “dole”, “gang”, “posse” or “raffle”. 

Due to certain unfortunate actions taken by YOU (over-hunting and deforestation), wild turkeys had practically disappeared from Ohio by 1904. Trap and release procedures beginning in the 1950s brought us back, and we have been busy since - today there are over 200,000 turkeys in Ohio and 7 million in the U.S.!

We prefer to live in forests, but we adapt well. As long as we have adequate cover and food, we may live in your neighborhood. We are quite a sight on frosty autumn mornings, soaring out of our overnight perches in trees! You may spot us feeding in groups at dawn or dusk, scratching through leaf cover for seeds, berries, nuts, insects, acorns, snails, salamanders, and small snakes. Breeding activity peaks in April, and hens nest until mid-June. A typical clutch has from 8-16 eggs. Poults generally leave the nest within 24 hours – no living in the basement like your millennials!

You can identify us males by our handsome reddish heads, long tufted “beards”, black-tipped breast feathers, and spurs on our legs. Hens have lovely bluish heads and buff-tipped feathers, no beards and no spurs. The red fleshy lobe that hangs from our chins is a “wattle”, and the flap of skin over our bills is a “snood”. This may be over-sharing, but male droppings are j-shaped while female droppings are spiral-shaped. Just thought I’d mention it. 

I strut my stuff to attract the ladies, fanning out my gorgeous tail feathers and shaking my other “junk” - my wattle and snood. I have a lot of stuff to strut - between 5,000-6,000 feathers! When the light hits me just right, you can see their stunning colors - iridescent bronze with hints of red, green, copper and gold.

So, we turkeys are good looking, active - and loud! Did you know that you can hear us gobble more than a mile away? We actually make all kinds of cool sounds – take a listen! https://www.nwtf.org/hunt/wild-turkey-basics/turkey-sounds
Did I mention that we are also really fast? Nike doesn’t return my calls, but I can sprint up to 25 mph, and I fly twice that fast! I’d like to see Lebron do that!

Our heads turn red when we get excited or upset – similar to the way you blush – but we also turn shades of white and blue. We think that makes us the perfect national bird for the United States! Some people believe that Ben Franklin actually wanted us to be the national bird instead of that thieving scavenger, the bald eagle. I don’t know about that, but he did describe us as “birds of courage” that would not hesitate to attack a British soldier invading the farmyard! We turkeys are very fond of Dr. Franklin!

I do have a bone to pick with you (and not a wishbone!). You call us the dumbest animal on the planet. This is patently unfair (especially considering the stuff you do!) Yes, we stare into space for long periods of time, even in the rain, but that’s because we have a medical condition (tetanic torticollar spasms). And we tilt our heads, not to figure something out but because our vision is monocular – our eyes are too far apart to focus on one image at a time. What’s YOUR excuse?

We are very social and curious, and consequently we’ve had some interesting interactions with humans. Maybe we’ve chased a few mail trucks, bicyclists and joggers in our day – but everyone makes a bad choice now and then! If you see us, just shoo us off – it might work!
And for your Thanksgiving meal this year, may I suggest a succulent tofurkey? 
Cool Tool - Collapsible Leaf Rake
The leaf colors were gorgeous this year, weren’t they? With all that beauty, it’s easy to forget (for a moment or two) that there’s another job just about to drop in on you. That is raking those leaves. The ideal solution for dealing with leaves is to shred them and put them on your beds. It’s the best mulch money can’t buy.

For those who don’t save their leaves, many municipalities vacuum the leaves once you have gotten them to the curb. There really are two ways to get them to the curb: blowing or raking.

Many think moving leaves with blasts of air is far superior to raking. It certainly avoids breaking a sweat, one byproduct of raking. I’ve found that as many leaves get blown back onto beds and into hard-to-reach corners as are moved down the driveway. The two-stroke engines on most blower packs are worse polluters than many automobiles. The air forced out the nozzle is often strong enough to blow soil and mulch off your garden beds. Finally, the ear-piercing whine does nothing to improve the neighborhood ambience. There are now electric versions of leaf blowers, eliminating the pollution and much of the noise, but the drawbacks to blowing leaves remain.

Enter the rake. The leaf rake is one of the simplest tools in your garden arsenal. It’s simply a long wooden stick with a fan of tines attached on one end. The leaf rake should not be confused with a garden rake, which has a rectangular head with parallel tines that is used to level out garden beds before planting.

Leaf rakes come in either metal or plastic versions, although plastic rakes may not last more than one season. Metal rakes last for years.

For those who find the leaf rake hard to use in corners and under shrubs, a rake that collapses is your answer. A collapsible rake can serve as a standard leaf rake, with its telescoping handle extending to the usual length and the tines the standard width. However, this rake’s tines can be made wider or narrower with no loss of length using the slide function. The telescoping handle can be shortened or lengthened according to the job required or the height of the raker without disturbing the width of the tines’ fan.

This rake is able to get into small spots and corners, dragging out hard-to-reach leaves that a standard rake cannot. Fully collapsed, it is handy during the regular garden season for reaching garden debris that finds its way under sprawling shrubs during winter. The length of the handle and the width of the tines are independently adjustable, so the rake fits your needs rather than you adapting to the standard rake’s inflexibility, making the collapsing rake an all-season tool.

These rakes may not be carried by standard gardening outlets. However, there are many online catalogs that sell collapsible rakes.

There is no getting around the work and time that raking requires. The leaves will, eventually, thankfully, finish falling. In the meantime, why not use a rake that can make the job just a little easier?
Bring in the Garden - Making an Evergreen Swag
Nothing says welcome like a bit of the garden arranged to greet us at the door. With a few gathered or purchased supplies you can craft a swag that will get the message across. This is a good way to use pruned branches from conifers and other evergreens from your yard (or those of friends or neighbors---ask first!). No prunings? Garden centers have supplies of winter greens. Junipers with berries, golden chamaecyparis branches, and the blue branches of concolor fir are especially pleasing.  Be on the lookout for pinecones and holly or other berry branches to use as embellishments. A wired ribbon bow tops off your creation.  A bow can be purchased, but making one is not difficult and offers more ribbon choices. 

Supplies and tools:
  • Two spruce or other stiff conifer branches (sprays) for the base – approximately 12” and 17” long
  • Assorted branches of arborvitae, pine, chamaecyparis, fir, juniper, spruce, boxwood
  • Holly or other colorful branches
  • Embellishments such as pine cones, interesting twigs, (a good mission for your daily walk)
  • A wired ribbon bow with attachment wire or pipe cleaner
  • Paddle wire
  • Pipe cleaner or paddle wire for the hanging hook (A pipe cleaner has less tendency to scratch your hanging surface.)
  • Wire cutters and pruning shears
  • Garden gloves
  1. Cut a piece of paddle wire 30” long or have at hand a pipe cleaner for the hanging hook. 
  2. Place the two base branches together, right sides up and cut ends crossing each other, with the smaller spray on the top, and wire firmly together with your paddle wire. Do not cut the paddle wire -- you will continue to use it as you build up the layers on your swag. You have now created the swag base.
  3. Bend your 30” paddle wire or pipe cleaner (from step 1) in half and wrap firmly around the base branches where they are joined, twisting together in the back to secure and leaving a looped end in the back for your hanger. Adjust the length of this hanging loop to suit your purpose. 
  4. Build up the swag, alternating colors and textures until your base is covered with a pleasing combination of greens. 
  5. Wire on some berried or golden branches and top off with some wired cones or other embellishments that will hang toward the fuller side (the bottom of the swag).
  6. Wire your ribbon firmly in place.
  7. Admire and be prepared to enjoy for many months to come.
For the Sprouts - Thankful Turkey Placemats
Hoot Hoo Hello! I’m Owen, a Great Horned Owl. I live in a big tree in Cuyahoga Falls, and as you would expect, I am very wise. I know lots of fun things to do outdoors and in the garden, and my Master Gardener friends have asked me to share them with you!
These are wonderful placemats to use 
for Thanksgiving – or any day! You can
combine real leaves and paper leaves for your turkey’s feathers. Write things you are grateful for on the paper leaves. Perhaps others in your family will want to make a placemat – or you can make one for them!

For each placemat you will need:
  • A piece of paper for the base of the placemat
  • Leaves 
  • Colored construction paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Go outside and collect some interesting leaves. Cut out from construction paper a pear-shaped turkey body, two eyes, a beak and a wobble. Glue these pieces together. Trace the body on the placemat in pencil so you know where to place your turkey leaves. Cut out leaves from construction paper. Write things you are thankful for on the leaves. (Ask an adult to help you if necessary.)

Glue the leaves along the edges of your turkey body tracing on the placemat, mixing the paper leaves and real ones. Glue your turkey body in the middle of your feathers.

In order to protect and preserve your placemat, you can laminate it, put it in a clear plastic folder, or use a self-seal laminating pouch. 
Branching Out - Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve
The Northeast Ohio area has a wealth of places where people can get closer to nature. Some, like Holden or Secrest arboreta, are large and provide a quality visitor experience as well as fill the research needs in several academic disciplines.

Some, however, are smaller, bringing people and nature a little closer and introducing various aspects of the natural world in a playful way. Such is the case with the Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Alliance, founded in 1999 and nestled on 181 acres in rural Stark County near Alliance.

The vision for Beech Creek began with Paul and Melinda Carmichael, owners of the Lily of the Valley Herb Farm, who saw the need for a place where local residents could learn more about horticulture and nature. When the classes they offered their herb farm’s customers proved very popular, they joined with like-minded nature lovers and created the non-profit’s parent, the Botanical Garden Association.

The association bought the original 164 acres in 2003 from landowners who were being approached by developers and who wanted to preserve their land. Smaller parcels were added in 2013 and 2019. Melinda Carmichael is Beech Creek’s director.

From the moment you leave the log house Visitor Center (the former home of the original owners), Beech Creek offers a variety of hands-on opportunities to learn about the wild outside. There is a hummingbird garden, filled with plants that attract the buzzing nectar eaters. There is a sensory garden, teaching how plants can cater to any of the five senses. A potager garden teaches about growing fruit and vegetables, and two gardens illustrate how native plants benefit wildlife in the area.

The Amazing Garden Plant Science Center is a conservatory where children, through hands-on activities, learn about plants, how they grow and how they can be used. The Butterfly House, open between June and September, hosts a variety of native butterflies, moths and skippers and the plants these beautiful insects need to survive. Park visitors also get a close-up look at the butterfly life cycle in the attached Caterpillar Nursery. There is a raptor rehabilitation center near one of the park’s four trails, operated by partner organization Raptor Hollow Bird Sanctuary.

During the month of October, the grounds are transformed into haunts for lessons in Spooky Science. Various stations explain what makes some objects reflect images, the whys and wherefores of mushrooms and the relationship between astronomy, math and chemistry. Much of the preserve is geared to younger visitors because play is an ideal way to get children interested in nature and science.

Beginning Nov. 20 through Dec. 26, Beech Creek opens for Holiday Nights, a seasonal celebration of winter wonderlands aglow with holiday lights. This event is open 5-9 Fridays and Saturdays.

Four trails at Beech Creek cater to a variety of abilities. The shortest trail, Creekside, runs alongside the preserve’s namesake Beech Creek. This trail and the half-mile Spicebush Trail are handicapped accessible. Oakview and Fern Ridge trails are more challenging, with steep slopes and narrow paths through the forest.

The nature preserve is open to the public. Non-members pay $5 admission, with special events and exhibits slightly more. Reasonably priced memberships include free admission and access to the grounds outside of normal operating hours, usually 10-4 Wednesday to Sunday. Beech Creek is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

For a preserve that opened its first trail in 2006, the staff has created a list of programs and special events that is long and varied. It’s safe to say if there is a question about something in nature, Beech Creek will do its best to help answer it. 
Beech Creek Nature Preserve and Botanical Garden
11929 Beech St. NE
Alliance, OH 44601
Down and Dirty
November Checklist
  • Mulch tea and floribunda roses for winter protection.
  • Apply deer repellent or screening to susceptible shrubs and trees.
  • Keep weeding and mulching flowerbeds to keep weeds in check for the spring. 
  • Though not optimal, there is still time to plant bulbs if the ground is not frozen.
  • Plan holiday patio pots, gather natural materials and paint them if desired.
  • Start watering Christmas cacti now to promote Christmas blooming.
  • Plant your amaryllis bulbs now for holiday enjoyment. 
Summit County Master Gardener Holiday Programs
Forcing Amaryllis for the Winter Season Nov 12, 2020 06:30 PM

Making a Boxwood Wreath Nov 19, 2020 06:30 PM

Making a Holiday Centerpiece Dec 10, 2020 06:30 PM 

History and Horticulture of the Holidays Dec 16, 2020 06:30 PM

You can register for these programs on our website. (link below)
New Growth!
To learn more please check out :
  • Summit County Master Gardeners on Facebook
  • Summit County Master Gardener Community Gardening Newsletter
  • Follow Summit County Master Gardeners on Instagram: Find us by our user name osusummitmgv and follow us for educational information, gardening tips, and news and events related to the Summit County Master Gardener Program.
  • Submit questions online to be answered by Master Gardener Volunteers at Ask a Master Gardener
  • OhioLine Yard and Garden provides fact sheets and information on a variety of gardening topics.
  • Buckeye Yard and Garden onLine provides timely information about Ohio growing conditions, pest, disease, and cultural problems. BYGL is updated weekly between April and October.
Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you,
and to give thanks continuously. 
And because all things have contributed to your advancement,
you should include all things in your gratitude
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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