Oakland County Board Promotes Use of Native Plants in Home Gardens

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners, along with Oakland County Parks and Recreation (OCPR), recently passed out more than 90 native plant kits to residents looking to expand their home gardens with native plants. Although the curbside distribution event has passed, those interested in preventing invasive species can still do so with plants indigenous to the region.

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Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere!

pumpkin patch up close

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Halloween is just around the corner and one very recognizable sign of the season is everywhere. Pumpkins are transforming into an incredible array of spooky jack-o-lanterns that perch patiently on porches, waiting to delight masked goblins, witches, and superheroes. Others wait to be chosen from roadside stands, and hundreds more, of every conceivable size, are for sale at the Oakland County Farmers Market. Grocery store displays of pumpkins are placed strategically near the door to draw attention, almost as if they are pleading, “Pick me! Pick me!”

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October Snake Tales

snake with tongue out

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“The wild requires that we learn the terrain, nod to all the plants and animals and birds, ford the streams and cross the ridges, and tell a good story when we get back home.” That is perhaps my favorite quote from Gary Snyder in his celebration of the ways of nature in The Practice of the Wild (Snyder, 1990).

I have friends who revel in Snyder’s words. They share stories of wildlife encounters with excitement and joy. However, when it comes to sharing encounters with snakes, sometimes their words and phrases confirm their extreme anxieties and near-phobic horrors of even seeing a snake. These colorful days of October remind us of winter’s approach. That means, it’s time to share snake facts with a disclaimer: although I am not a herpetologist by any means, I am an unabashed partisan of these slithering creatures that often take center stage for a few weeks during the season of leaf fall. Perhaps you are too.

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Fall Foliage Adventuring

fall foliage

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Oakland County woodlands, meadows, and lakes are attractive throughout the year, but take on a special aura of beauty in autumn. As shades of summer green surrender to the fiery scarlet of sassafras, glittering yellows of aspens, the reddish-orange hues of maples, and finally, the misty pale yellow of swamp-loving tamaracks, our changing patchwork of kaleidoscope-like colors against a sky of blue can almost overwhelm the human eye. If that’s not enough to lure a nature lover to our hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of acres of parks and wildlands, fantastic fruiting fungi in a rainbow of colors is also emerging along our trails.

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Trailside Pokeweed of Summer’s End

purple pokeweed berries

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As summer heat begins to fade, Pokeweed, a native shrub-like plant, accelerates its growth and draws attention to the edge zones of many of our most popular trails and woodlands of the Oakland County landscape. It often appears under power lines and is rather common in sections of our larger parks and State Recreation Areas. Sometimes, it thrives within front and back yards of homes and near areas of new construction. At night, its ripening fruits take on a special eye-catching beauty when captured by a camera’s lens. However, by the time pumpkins are coated with frost, pokeweed mysteriously vanishes.

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