It’s About Time

We're approaching the longest day of the year

The frenetic flowering rush of spring is tapering off as nature settles into the languorous days surrounding the summer solstice. The sun rises early, before most people wake up, and sunset punctuates a late evening. For two months, the change in day length varies by barely an hour.

The meadow and woodland flowers will use the mix of long days and a reservoir of moisture in the soil to begin seed production and dispersal. Grassy hillsides transition from their brightest green to the beginning of brown over this stretch of time. Flower watchers will be setting their sights higher up the mountains in search of fresh bursts of color. Those gorgeous mountain ridges are dancing with butterflies seeking mates.

Nesting season is well underway, nowhere more obvious than on the ponds near the Willamette River. Goslings and ducklings provide some of the most relaxing entertainment in town. Songbirds are active in the trees. Once the nestlings are fledged, young bird families will be seen in mixed foraging flocks again. Watch your home feeders and fill often.

Some city streets and sidewalks take on a black, varnished appearance after several sunny days in a row. This is a sticky coating of aphid droppings. We see it mostly under oak trees, favored by aphids. Aphids will be active throughout the summer, releasing their honeydew in highest amounts on sunny days. It is harmless but a nuisance to clean off when a car is left parked under an aphid tree on a hot day.

David Wagner is a botanist who works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes, leads nature walks and makes nature calendars. He can be contacted through his web site: 

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