Lamb’s Ears

Huh, another non-native, but I have to show Lamb’s Ears, Stachys byzantina, as our temperature drops.

Did you guess why? Have a closer look…

This plant is wearing a fur coat! Softer than mine, Hickory says. He’s recovering in his leaf nest.

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Nandina

Sigh. There seem to be many more non-native plants in our neighbor hood than Miz Flora cares to admit. Nandina, Nandina domestica is one of them.

It looks a little like bamboo, but it’s not related. Yet, like bamboo and Burning Bush, Nandina is somewhat invasive, particularly in the southern states. Probably because of the warmer climate. It’s one to like though, especially when we’ve been talking about providing wildlife with food.

These berries will be harvested by songbirds over the winter, though they are toxic to mammals, including house cats.

More on Feeding Stations

There’s a chill in the air now. I spent yesterday adding to my fat, something I understand humans are not likely to do. All of us here at The Squirrel Nutwork have been scoping out easy food sources–that is, in addition to the supplies we have buried. This is a particularly nice one I like to visit, and not just because these humans put out corn. (See April 3rd’s post for why I like corn!)

If you don’t understand why I like it, imagine how hard it is for a squirrel to eat at one of these.

Yes, different wildlife have different feeding needs. Some humans plan feeding stations for all their suburban wildlife neighbors, and we thank them!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Sooo…hey! This isn’t exactly native, but you see them in suburbia. And maybe some of you human readers have been wondering what it is.

Give me a guess!

~~~

Surely you guessed these are cones, but of what? The tree has been around a loooong time.  Did that hint give it away? No? It’s Metasequoia—a Dawn Redwood.  In our neighborhood, these trees—yes, someone planted two of them in one townhouse yard!— are monsters, extending far higher than the surrounding oaks and maples.

That’s a mature Black Oak to the left, and on the other side of the townhouse from the Dawn Redwood.

Miz Flora says the Metasequoia glyptostroboides species has been around forever, at least in squirrel life spans. Human scientists have found the leaves printed in rocks and thought they were all dead until a living tree was found in the 1940’s in China. This fascinates humans and draws them to planting the tree, even though sadly, it doesn’t give us squirrels food. And those limbs point kind of upward, so aren’t that great for branch-to-branch leaping. But that’s just my opinion. Nutmeg won’t climb the tree at all. The bark is kind of shreddy and peels away under our paws.

You can tell this tree from the other large redwoods, because it’s deciduous.

The leaves change to a beautiful reddish in the fall and drop.  Just so long as it’s only the leaves dropping, I’m happy.

Eastern Chipmunk

Hey, Nutmeg turned the blog over to me because things have been a bit crazy around here. I thought since she’s been busy, I’d pal around with one of our suburban neighbors.

But come to find out, Eastern Chipmunks, distant Rodentia cousin of us squirrels, are even more serious than we Eastern Gray Squirrels are about the whole  nut collection thing. He apparently has a ‘cache’ located in some underground location–or three– that he plans on sleeping on top of for the entire winter.

I decided that except for both of us loving acorns, we don’t have much in common

Japanese Maple Trees

While the other leaves may be falling, the Japanese Maples are hitting their stride these last few days. I am overwhelmed at their beauty. Here’s a look at the variety on my daily leaping route. (But, shh! Don’t tell Miz Flora I featured them. At least this exotic plant is not invasive.)

First I want to show a comparison in size.

Here is a dwarf Japanese Maple in the foreground and a Red Maple, Acer rubrum behind it.

Japanese Maples can also be understory trees.

Hope you find some in your travels today.