Common yellow jacket. Vespula vulgaris.

It’s About Time

Summer is over; the rain is here

There is nothing like three days of hard rain to signal the proper end of summer and the beginning of the rainy season, aka our winter. We celebrate rain and cloudy skies for at least the next month or so. By February, many will tire of mist and drizzle, but for now we are happy to walk in the wet. The forest fires that have ravaged the nearby hills have been quenched. Deep pockets of coals will yet burn a while but the serious threat is over.

It is time to roll up the hoses and put away the hose timers. A sudden hard frost, which can happen with little warning, will ruin those timers so it is good to care for them now. We can enjoy a few more days of marigolds, zinnias and other annual flowers that are just past their peak production. What remains of the pole beans can be left to finish maturing before drying for next year’s planting.

Among the most noxious, aggressive, non-native plants is English ivy. It has been widely used as an easily established ground cover. English ivy will continue to be used in landscapes despite its tendency to escape and overwhelm the understory of woodlands in urban parks. One of its odd traits is to bloom in late fall, providing a nectar source when little else is available. Honeybees love it. A surprise is how many native yellow jackets and wasps swarm their flower clusters, and even some evening moths.

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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