When you hear the word “milkweed” you probably think about monarch butterflies. Maybe you’ve even spent some time looking for monarch caterpillars on plants. What you might not realize is that Nantucket boasts six species of milkweed with at least four easily seen around the island. These plants are important to more than just monarchs. They play an important role to many other creatures in the environment.
You may have noticed, driving up Polpis Road or riding along the bike path towards ‘Sconset, a unique red pergola along the road flanked on either side by two stone lions. Once marking the entry to a private yard and secret garden, now these sentinels are welcoming spirits to a newly restored island oasis.
The year 2020 has delivered many challenges. Everything from the Japanese Murder Wasps to the pandemic and protests. There is a shift. Not only in congress and country, but in the fabric of our fields. Our cool crops wain and our spring begins to yield. Tomatoes seem to double in size and the zucchini is about to bloom. Pole beans are on the trellis and the herbs are on our spoon.
Nantucket is often thought of as a virtually tree-less landscape. Picturing the conservation lands and open space, we often think of rolling grasslands and the open moors. But take a look closer.
Our native orchids are remarkable for their diversity and their adaptations. Almost all of our orchids are rare and confined to specialized habitats. For some of our native orchids, these specialized habitats have meant a rarity or potential extirpation from the island. There are some species, however, that are still locally common enough that you may be able to catch a glimpse of one of these special native plants.
Nantucket is known for its roses, particularly in the town of ‘Sconset…such quaint, squinting faces, smiling as you stroll past. This season, we might be greeted by the roses more often than our usual annual visitors. As with people, roses can be a bit thorny, but give them a chance and you’ll see that the more attention you pay, the more sunsets you spend, a “New Dawn’ will rise. Roses can be a complicated and unforgiving challenge, but when done right, there is no better reward. Whether it be heirloom roses or hybrid tea, one thing holds true, you’ll need sunlight. . .
As the weather warms the island seems to spring to life. It’s not just the daffodils and birdsong. As you walk along the bike paths and travel on roads, some of our Nantucket turtles are on the move as well. Fresh out of hibernation, our smallest freshwater turtle, the Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) is moving about travelling to springtime feeding and breeding grounds…
As I sit in the back garden basking in the glory of a Kwanzan cherry tree, its prolific pink petals parachute gracefully to the ground. The wind whispers through the canopy and the mind begins to wonder. Will my pepper seedlings ever start to grow? Is it too late to sow more peas? What will Nantucket’s summer look like in this “new normal’’? Although these questions can paralyze any action, I think it’s important to do just that. Act…