As interest in native plants has grown, so has our nursery. Central to those efforts the past two years has been Peter Evans, a Marianist PULSE (Partners for Urban Leadership, Service, and Education) volunteer. 

Controlled burning is one of the most effective strategies for keeping a prairie a prairie. Without the disruption fire provides, woody species would overtake the grasses and eventually a woods would stand where a prairie once grew. Fire also removes thatch, returning those nutrients to the soil, and controls early-season weeds. We conduct our burns in mid-March through early April, before the prairie species have broken dormancy, and when wind and humidity values are within a fairly narrow range.

Blackgum leaves exhibit striking variability even within the same tree.

Native seed collection is in full gear! We have plenty of opportunities for individuals or groups to lend a hand this fall.

A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun is a one-hour documentary that explores the life and legacy of E. Lucy Braun, one of the foremost botanists and ecologists in American history.  Watch the trailer.

We're so grateful for all we accomplished as a community over the past year! This update was mailed to our Friends of MEEC members and supporters and summarizes our 2017 work and gives a peak at the year ahead. If you'd like to join our mailing list, click here.

Black and gold bumble bee on tall larkspur

The Bee Team surveyed bumble bees at Mount St. John during the summer of 2017. Here's what they found.

On August 7 our staff welcomed Peter Evans who joins us for the next year as a full-time volunteer with the Marianist PULSE program. 

Thanks to Eagle Scout candidate Quinn Retzloff, we have new and improved signs in the nature preserve. The old signs were well-worn, to put it mildly, and in one instance referred to a trail we removed for restoration. The new signs will support a much-improved visitor experience. Eventually, the trail guide will be accessible from QR codes on the trail markers that can be scanned with a smart phone to retrieve 360-degree images, interpretive text and seasonal natural history notes.

By Jim McCulloch (Flickr: Chimney swift overhead) [CC BY 2.0]

Since…well, no one remembers exactly how long…the chimney atop the MSJ Powerhouse next door to our offices has hosted a flock of chimney swifts. We last saw these migrating birds last October when they left for South America for the winter. We noticed a few “scouts” during the last two of weeks of April, but it appears the main flock has now returned. Watching the swifts circle and fall one-by-one into the chimney at dusk is a favorite evening activity around here, one which we hope you experience at least once.

The Marian Library at the University of Dayton received the collected papers of John Stokes, who popularized Mary gardens in the United States, in 2007. Through May 10 the library is hosting a public exhibit of the Stokes Collection, commissioned artwork and an indoor garden of plants named for Mary. John Stokes lived and worked on the east coast, and his gardens featured plants popular in that part of the country and mostly utilized plants from the nursery trade.