It’s spring at the Garden!

Are more words necessary?

Orchids Untamed:

Here is a recap of the Orchid Show if you missed it this year! The annual orchid show at the Chicago Botanic Garden displays a wide collection of orchids. This event celebrates the beginning of spring with the unique and vibrant colors that orchids have to offer. After hearing great reviews from friends that visited the exhibition, I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to be mesmerized by orchids myself. Roaming through rooms filled with orchids was a magical experience. Your environment is transformed into a tropical paradise of thousands of blooming orchids. Some of them hang from the ceiling and others grow from patches of moss positioned on a man made tree. Every turn of the corner and you will see a unique combination of colors. The variation amongst different species is incredible. One of my favorites reminded me of a sunset, she had the perfect gradient of yellow, peach and pink. I was surprised to find an orchid that happen to match my hair color, which is an aqua mint green. The beauty of orchids will truly take your breath away. The orchids had my undivided attention and I enjoyed spending time to appreciate their beauty. Sometimes we all need an afternoon to look at nothing but pretty flowers 😉 If you missed the orchid show this time, be sure to come back next year for a mesmerizing experience!

Got oats?

This past week, I paid a visit western Minnesota. It was a very exciting week, complete with -35 degree windchill and 10 inches of gusting snow. On the way back, I stopped by the Swany White Flour Mills in Freeport, MN and picked up a 25-lb bag of rolled oats for Mia. When I returned to Chicago, it was 50 degrees and sunny. Quite the temperature shock!

Lately, I’ve been working on demap. Both the 2020 and 2021 demography and survey records have now been added to demap, and I’m working on reconciling them. My goal is to have the Staffanson data from 2020 and 2021 reconciled and ready to go by Wednesday. I’d better get back to RStudio!

P2 and P8 in the Winter

Stopped by P8 this morning and snowshoed out to P2. If you like these plots in the summer, the winter offers a new, unique perspective of the beauty of a prairie. The last few days, all vegetation has been covered in hoarfrost so the prairie lacks all color and seems like a black and white movie scene.

My dog Clyde (official spelling changed to Collyde). If you could meet him, you would understand.

On the south side of the P2, overlooking the plot.


Loon 1: Jame 0

Good evening flogland and sorry you’ve been feeling neglected lately. We still love you.

We know it’s not evening yet, but it sure feels like it and we have already taken two naps today. An elite contingent of Team Echinacea left Friday after work to camp at Glendalough State Park. We are sitting around the picnic table watching Jame trying to catch a loon in the lake! So far score is 1-0 loon. Actually it might be higher because apparently Jame wakes up really easily to loon calls but not other loud noises.

Last night when we arrived most of our time was spent around the campfire. We learned a lot of interesting things about each other including that if you spell James’ name backwards and change the “m” to a “w” that it would spell “Sewaj” (sewage). Also Will is a satanist and doesn’t like  S’mores. Also we learned that Jame has been making fires for his family since the age of 3.

This morning we were awoken by a Miss Amy Waananen at 6 am and promptly made a fire to eat some squishy oat meal. Alyson AKA Lil’ Terrified did not partake in the oatmeal but joined me in the Cheetos for breakfast movement. We also developed a sophisticated ranking system for food ranging from “would try again” to “would eat forever”.

Earlier today, we went on a hike on the Beaver Pond Interpretive Trail. We are all now sitting around the picnic table anxiously awaiting the arrival of Scott “Scooter” Nordstrom. Will is especially excited because they have plans to “cuddle puddle” tonight.

Tonight we are going to eat pizza and itch each other’s chigger bites.


Glen da lough,

Amy “OJ”

Alyson “Lil’ Terrified”

Billy Jeff Reed

Jame “Sewaj” “Jahmez” “Jamie” “Jammy Jam” “Sweet Baby James”

Laura “Puff Daddy”



July 23, 2016: Shaken Graves

Hello flog! Comin’ at you live from Maple Grove. I am currently sitting in Amy’s basement following a rousing evening of music, fun, and friends. We drove to the Cities today in a torrential downpour to see a concert this evening of Dr. Dog featuring Shakey Graves. Before the concert we got to know each other better by playing ‘Would You Rather?: Provocative Questions to Get Teenagers Talking.’ The questions truly were provocative but some members of the group were still game: as Alyson said, “I’m a teenager and I’m ready to get provocative.”  Many of the questions presented difficult choices, but we added a third alternative, having clams for hands, which proved to be a surprisingly popular option. After that we drove to the concert and we all had a great time! Here’s a story from the evening. I was just dancing around and all of a sudden this darn thing grazes my head, I look around like ‘what the heck, man’ and it’s a rice crispie bar! I smelled it first and then I ate it. After that we danced more.

Here's the aforementioned rice crispie bar mid-eating

Here’s the aforementioned rice crispie bar mid-eating

Following the concert we went and ate ice cream. I got lemon custard and so did everyone else. It was an accident. I also got a Izzy (TM) scoop of raspberry sorbet. Yum.

We’re having fun!



(Billy “Jeff” Reed, Class of 2018)


July 16th: Jill and Wames Sweep the Night

Hello floglanders! Happy Saturday! How you doin’???

We started off the day today with pollinator observations! We did not see too many bees, but that did not stop us from having a good ole’ time! Jennifer gave us watermelon, and it was delicious! We painted and assessed shriveling for the pollinator intraspecific pollen load diversity project.

Afterwards, we went back to town hall and ate leftovers and souls. James did not partake in this meal. They were delicious. Then I knit three quarters of a carrot colored sock with the moral support of all of town hall when I turned the heel. After I worked on the sock, we all went to Alexandria to play a rousing game of Settlers Of Catan at Will’s house. It was my first time playing and the dynamic duo of Laura and Lea won!!!! James and Will were thoroughly “put out” at our win because they were self-proclaimed protegees. Well, maybe they did win, but I might not want to admit it. Currently, we are watching the Big Lebowski. Hopefully, Will does not fall asleep because apparently he has never made it through 1/10th of the whole movie. He is actually letting us watch the movie in his room. There is a rug here that really “ties the room together”. (quote from currently being watched movie).

Also, Leah taught us some Spanish in the Taco Bell drive through.


Leah debe estudiar Español y no la biología.



Fourth of July

Happy Independence Day, flog readers! The team had the day off today, but that didn’t stop Leah, Scott, and I from doing a little fieldwork this morning. Leah and Scott caught pollinators and worked on Leah’s co-flowering study while I painted and bagged heads at Around Landfill in preparation for crossing tomorrow as part of the compatibility experiment.

We honored the holiday this evening in Alexandria, the so-called birthplace of America. After eating a traditional American meal of Chinese buffet food, we went to a concert on the lawn of the Douglas County courthouse. Here we heard many patriotic tunes such as “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.” We took the scenic route back to Kensington and admired the clouds the entire way. Finally, we stopped at the Kensington Runestone Park to visit the true birthplace of America, where a Viking expedition left a runestone all the way back in 1363.  The runestone doesn’t say what date it was engraved so it’s tough to say whether July 4th is actually America’s birthday, but that would be quite a coincidence. Either way today was a great day!

"Everything is awesome! The clouds are so cool!"

“Everything is awesome! The clouds are so cool!”- at the birthplace of America


Travel-logue to Landfill site

Today, we (Alex and Laura) visited the Landfill remnant prairie site and saw some pretty cool stuff. This site is unique because of its long and narrow shape along Sandy Hill road, and because of its shared border with a soy bean field and the local landfill! Luckily, the wind was not blowing toward us and all we could smell were the sweet prairie roses.


A prairie rose (and buds) spotted on the side of Sandy Hill Road.

We believe that this site’s unique fragmentation makes it a good plot for The Echinacea Project. This area still has native prairie plants likely including Echinacea later in the season.

We observed three of the four main types of prairie plants. Most abundant was the non-native, cool season grass, brome. This was really the only grass we saw, and there were no warm season grasses visible. Along the road there was a profusion of prairie roses. We did not see this forb deeper into the fragment, which was interesting and puzzling because in other locations that we visited this week, prairie roses were found throughout the plots. Unlike the prairie rose, another forb, white sage was only found in the interior of the site past the ditch along the road, and was sprinkled with milkweed. Among the white sage, we found a lone false sunflower. It was likely disgruntled because, not only was it lonely, but the sun was nowhere to be found. We also spotted legumes, such as alfalfa and sweet clover, who were much less lonely and basking in the glory of their opulence.


A view of the landfill prairie fragment and its various plants along Sandy Hill Road. (landfill visible in top left corner)

When we visit sites and identify plants, seasoned members of Team Echinacea can predict how this fragment got this way and why these specific plants are present.  Today we tried our hand at this game. Considering that the most abundant grass was brome, we believe that this area (the soy bean field and landfill included) was used as land to feed livestock, as brome was initially imported to the New World as fodder for bovine and other grazing creatures. When the agricultural field and landfill were added to this area, the grass persisted in the undisturbed areas. Brome is a nonnative grass that could easily thrive in this area and bounce back from disturbances. Other nonnative plants include alfalfa and sweet clover, which could both thrive in this area for similar reasons. Native plants seem to be lacking at this site, which we attributed to the take over from the grass and legumes and the limited space with strange features. A few native plants, the prairie rose and white sage, were plentiful. They must have persisted through disturbances and been more capable of bouncing back and coexisting with nonnative species than other native prairie plants. We could not account for why all the prairie roses were lined up along the road, but we hypothesized that they were trying to hitch hike to Pasadena for a viewing of the Rose Bowl. Or perhaps, they are just trying to get a ride away form the landfill.


All together, a fun day of developing new skills and strengthening old ones.


Alex and Laura refusing to leave our new favorite site (and also getting splinters).


Travelogue in NNWLF

Today we visited the rather small and flat NNWLF Site. This plot is just off the road and shows signs of disturbance from cars. The site is interesting because of the nearby pine trees which are not native to prairies. Pine trees could create a shadow over the remnant in the early morning because of their eastern position, this could impact the growth of plants. The outer edges of the plot contained non native sweet clover and alfalfa, which are legumes, and cool weather grass, brome. On the other hand, the core of the remnant contained mostly native milkweed and few non natives. There were no Echinacea buds yet as it is early in the season.


North of Northwest of Landfill Site