Yesterday was Earth Day and in case you missed it, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate today instead.
I suggest going outside for a few minutes or a few hours — however much time you want to spend — and find a spot to just relax and enjoy nature. Sometimes it’s good to take a breath remember what it is about the earth and its ecology that makes it so worth protecting.
In fact, I suggest doing this even if you did celebrate Earth Day; you can never get too much outdoors time.
Two Saturdays ago I got some excellent outdoors time when I took my husband with me to a wildflower walk at the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge in Boyle County. We had been to the refuge before to do some birding in the blind, but this was our first non-bird-related expedition.
While I usually am all about animals, I also enjoyed this plant-focused event.
It was great to spend some time outside with a bunch of nice people, learning about the natural stuff that’s all around us but sometimes goes unnoticed.
Our guides taught us all about many different plants, a lot of which I had no clue about. Before the walk, my plant knowledge ended after your basic household plants and veggies.
We learned about violets, which don’t always come in a violet color but can be white or even yellow. We saw flox and learned about its flat petals. We spotted wild hyacinth, may apples and many more.
We saw so many flowers and plants there’s no way I was going to remember them all, but that’s OK because it means I’ll just have to go on another walk sometime.
At the end of our walk, we learned about one more plant — garlic mustard. Unlike most of the rest of the plants we had seen during our walk, garlic mustard is an invasive species (it is not native to the area) that is very good at reproducing in large numbers and choking out other flowers.
Beside its innocent-looking little white blooms are seed pods filled with hundreds of seeds ready to create more and more of the unwanted weed.
Making things even trickier, just disposing of the plant body won’t get rid of the plant — it has to be removed, roots and all, or it can grow back.
We spent the end of our walk pulling up a bunch of garlic mustard plants that had grown up on a hillside in the refuge.
Ever since the walk, we’ve been spotting garlic mustard and identifying wildflowers wherever we go. It’s amazing how just a little bit of knowledge can make nature that much more enjoyable.
If you’re interested in going on a wildflower walk, one is scheduled for 10 a.m. this Saturday at the refuge. More info is available on the refuge’s website at www.ckwr.org.
Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week
The porcupine’s Latin name, erethizon dorsatum, means "quill pig.”
Amanda Wheeler is a Danville resident who has worked as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo. She is currently pursuing her master's in zoology.