Eugene Weekly : It’s About Time : 7.1.10

By David Wagner


With the passing of the solstice, summer has arrived. It took its sweet time, following a long, cool spring. Only now have the sugar snap peas finally gotten sweet, just at harvest time a late harvest. Garlic is slow coming on and the tomatoes probably won’t ripen until October. Potatoes look happy.

Warm days make good opportunities to hike in cool woods. Open areas at high elevations will be coming into peak of bloom but mountain mosquitoes will also peak this month. Mosquitoes are usually not so thick down in the woods and there one can see the coral root orchids and queen’s cup, Clintonia, on the forest floor. The queen’s cup is one of the forest floor lilies that spread by underground runners instead of some kind of bulb or corm.

Starlings are flying back and forth to a nest full of peepers in a neighbor’s walnut tree. The idea of little birds is cute, but these birds are nasty pests. Like the English sparrow, they have displaced many native birds with their aggressive behavior. Starlings and sparrows will smash eggs and kill baby birds, taking over the nest. It would not be a bad thing to tear out that nest and destroy the starling nestlings.

As grim a notion as it might be, killing baby birds pales in the face of the assault on the environment wrought by our petroleum-based culture. Nature lovers looking at the future have motivation stronger than ever to preserve what we can.

David Wagner is a botanist who has lived in Eugene for more than 30 years. He teaches mosses and leads plant walks. He may be reached at