Daybook: June 10 – 24

Introductory Note and Daybook Entries from June 10, 2015 to June 24, 2015

For the past 35 years, I have kept records of weather and the progress of the seasons in Yellow Springs Ohio, a small town just south of the 40th Parallel in the Ohio Valley. Whenever I travel in the United States or even to Italy, where my youngest daughter lives, I add notes about what is happening in the places I visit or pass through.

The daybook has been an anchor in my personal life, becoming a kind of autobiography of my awareness of the natural world around me. And since there are few resources for comparative phenology in print or on the web, I feel that my daily notes might be of use to those interested in following common events in the Ohio Valley seasons, and in contrasting those things with what is happening in their own neighborhoods.

Bill Felker

June 10, 2015

It is the far side of daisy bloom now, and crab apples are the size of BBs, and serviceberries turn red as the cherries become perfect for pies, and mulberries grow soft and fall to the street. Catalpas have peaked and a few trees have lost their blossoms. Lily season has begun with stella d’oros full bloom, ditch lilies gaining momentum, the first everbloomers opening, so many other varieties budding. Yucca just about ready. Robins continue to guide their young with intense peeping. Sparrow fledglings sit by the bird feeder, flap their wings to beg for food.

June 11, 2015

I found no chiggers or Japanese beetles today, but June 11 often brings the first real threat from those insects in my village of Yellow Springs, as well as throughout the Ohio Valley. A survey of “first chigger bites” and “first Japanese beetle sightings” in June between the early 1980s and the first several years of the 21st century offers a tentative timetable for the onslaught of these two insects. By the end of June, the “firsts” typically cede to “too many.” Some markers for the beginning of the chigger and beetle season are yucca blossoms, full bloom of the small stella d’oro lilies, red honeysuckle berries, half-grown black walnuts and Osage orange fruits, ripening wild black raspberries, and sighting of the first stag beetle (a beetle which does no harm to humans or gardens).

June 4, 2012: First chigger bite today after working in the yard, the earliest ever – after a record-breaking warm spring.
June 11, 1986: At South Glen, I got my first chigger bite of the year.
June 11, 1988: First chigger bite.
June 11, 2011: First chigger bite on my ankle.
June 12, 2008: First chigger bite in the yard this morning.
June 13, 1998: First Japanese beetles in the garden roses.
June 16, 2004: First Japanese beetles found on the ferns.
June 16, 2005: Jeanie got the first chigger bites of the year today, about five days later than the earliest years.
June 17, 2004: First chigger bites in the garden.
June 18, 1987: I’m full of chiggers after a day walking.
June 18, 2009: Jeanie reports the first chigger bits after working in the garden.
June 18, 2001: Chiggers have attacked me!
June 20, 2012: First Japanese beetles found: in the zinnias.
June 21, 1998: Five Japanese beetles in the roses.
June 21, 1999: A few Japanese beetles in the roses.
June 21, 2004: Home from southern Wisconsin: Japanese beetles have eaten the roses.
June 25, 2001: First Japanese beetle found in the roses.
June 25, 2010: First chigger bite when I mowed the lawn.
June 26, 2003: I got my first chigger bites today; Jeanie was attacked yesterday.
June 29, 1982: First chigger bites from walk in the woods.
June 30, 1993: First Japanese beetles found in the roses, have probably been out a couple days.
June 30, 2003: First Japanese beetles found in the roses.

June 12, 2015

The very first two sundrops (oenothera fruticosa) opened overnight. Great spangled fritillary on the Anna Belle hydrangea at 7:30 this morning, a viceroy crazy in the west bushes at 8:45. The north garden’s hobblebush has all its white side flowers this year. Penstemon cut back, all its flowers suddenly gone. Catalpas coming down all along Polecat Road. Wild black raspberries about half ripe along the old railroad bed. First great mullein flower seen in the pasture near Ellis Pond. Yucca has begun to blossom along Fairfield Road,

June 13, 2015

At the entry to South Glen, the forest preserve near Yellow Springs, on the east side of the river, I came on a colony of blooming wood nettle, almost as high as my waist. It spread out around me hundreds of feet in all directions. Innocuous and lying close to the ground a few weeks ago, the nettle had taken over this entryway to the Glen, making an idyllic but stinging barrier to the river on the right and the hills on the left. Only a few pale moths, daddy longlegs, and a green-bodied damselfly navigated the surface of the new floral hegemon. Only the licorice seeds of April’s sweet Cicely, a few struggling honewort, and black snakeroot were visible in the mass of rough, toothed nettle leaves. I could remember the layers of this past spring beneath them: wild ginger, blue cohosh, cut-leafed toothwort, violets, hepatica, large-flowered trillium, bloodroot, violet cress, and early meadow rue. But they were as inaccessible now as the periodic cicadas that lay a little further down waiting for May of 2017.

June 14, 2015

A little after sunrise, the sparrows came flocking to the feeder, at least two dozen, chirping and chirping. Has the time of pairing come to an end so soon? The beetles in the phlox and primroses have been checked by the dusting I gave them two days ago; now to see if the plants recover and flower. The far-west, deep orange daylily bloomed overnight, two of the huge Orientals in the north garden by the peach tree, and another pale yellow rebloomer in the circle garden. Nine different patches of lilies starting to come in now: the count begins. The great blue hosta buds are ready to open at the northwest corner of the house. The surviving two hibiscus plants, one on each side of the porch, are a couple feet tall. The scraggly amaranth patch near the pond is finally filling in, could end up being lush and beautiful.

June 15, 2015

In the middle of days of heat and rain, the annuals surge. The first orange tithonia (sprouted up in the attic during February) opened in last night’s storm. The castor bean has grown a foot in 48 hours. The reluctant amaranth and the hesitant zinnias no longer hold back. One blue chicory seen on the way to Beavercreek, drifts of Canadian thistles fresh and pink, a few more great mulleins. I am leaving for South Carolina in the morning; everything will be overgrown when I come back on the 20th.

June 16, 2015

Yellow Springs, Ohio to Santee-Cooper Reservoir, Santee, South Carolina: An almost immediate change as my nephew John and I drove southeast this morning. Near Chillicothe, dark wheat, pink spirea losing color, full bloom potentilla, elderberry bushes mostly gone to berries, cattails more prominent among their leaves, roadsides of chicory and daisy fleabane. Parsnips and hemlock mostly gone to seed, large round bales of golden hay in several fields.

Into West Virginia, the vegetation returned to Yellow Springs levels, then quickly moved into middle summer in North Carolina: Mimosa trees and crepe myrtles were in full bloom in central North Carolina. Teasel was tall, milkweed in full bloom, fields of ditch lilies and many stella d’oros, Queen Anne’s lace, horseweed, nodding and Canadian thistles, black-eyed Susans, trumpet creeper and bright butterfly weed as we drove farther toward Charlotte. When we reached Santee, I found the corn fully developed, peanuts maybe eight inches high. At the canal, I found my first greater coreopsis. Heat to 103 degrees late in the afternoon, water temperature 76. Mother mallard and two ducklings (about a fourth grown) swam by our fishing spot.

June 20, 2015

Return from South Carolina: The landscape in southern Ohio is similar in color and strength to that of last year, but the yard and garden, sodden from the daily rains while I was gone, is much further along. Now the monarda is red, the Joe Pye with tight small buds, the primroses and catmint almost gone, the ditch lilies and heliopsis completely full, the stella d’oros on the way down, all the hydrangeas full, especially the Anna Belle and the red-pink “Indomitable Spirit.” The deer have eaten at least two dozen lily buds from various parts of the garden. The roses, stunted badly by the last two winters, are overgrown by annuals and perennials this year. And so the era of roses that Jeanie began thirty-five years ago is coming to a close, covered and replaced (as all garden eras are) by more recent plantings. So many hostas have put out flower spikes while I was gone, the Great Blue beautiful in early bloom. And the trumpet creeper that Jeanie gave me put out its first orange trumpets

June 24, 2015

This morning, I came across Osage fruits, about golf-ball size, the same size as last year on the same High Street sidewalk. I found the first two Japanese beetles of the summer on my castor bean leaves (a little late, but well within the average of the past years). Two great spangled fritillaries visited the tithonias, the first time I’ve seen two of them together.

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