The Dynamic Duo is Back!

Hey guys! Long time no flog!

Remember back in June when Leah and I started working on our Independent Study Theses for The College of Wooster? Well, we finished! If you can remember that far back, I was examining the effect of removing buckthorn on the edge of a bog. I found that soil pH and canopy cover change after just a month of buckthorn removal – more similar to that of the bog interior! Leah found that bees exhibit decreasing floral fidelity towards Echinacea over time! So interesting!!!

We love and miss the beautiful Minnesota and our amazing pals in Team Echinacea so much! Thanks for everything, guys. We couldn’t have done it without you.



Alyson & Leah

Me and Leah holding our Tootsie Roll, a Wooster tradition in honor of finishing our thesis!

The Effects of Removing Buckthorn on a Bog – My Independent Project

This summer, I will be examining the effects of removing buckthorn, a shrub that is invasive to Minnesota, on the edges of a bog near the Hjelm House. I am interested in seeing how removing buckthorn impacts the native plants, native invertebrates, soil quality, and exotic earthworm population. To learn more about my project, feel free to read my proposal! I’ve already been working on my project quite a bit and I can’t wait to get the final data and results!

Alyson’s Awesome Proposal – Click here to read the most exciting proposal you’ve ever read, probably.


Here's a sneak peak of the bog that I will be studying this summer.

Here’s a sneak peak of the bog that I will be studying this summer! Isn’t it pretty?!

Bye Bye Buckthorn!


Leah just wishes that bees would land on a flower and not on her camera

Laura and Leah had already started their day much earlier than the rest of us to wipe the pollinators that they caught yesterday in p2 on flowers in p1 for Laura’s independent project. When the rest of the team arrived at the Hjelm House, pollinators were out and about, so most of the team went out for pollinator observations. Other members of the team worked on assessing compatibility and used the GPS. From what I gathered from stories at lunch and messages in a certain group chat, the team saw some pretty interesting things, including a mysterious rodent. After observations, team members did some weeding, resulting in an assessment of a large thistle that might be taller than Abby.


Here’s just one pile of buckthorn that was cut from a plot!





Meanwhile, I went to the bog to remove buckthorn. Since we had removed all of the buckthorn from four of my plots yesterday (HUGE thanks to Jennifer, Laura, and Leah), I only needed to remove it from one more plot. And I did it! Buckthorn was cut and herbicide was applied to the stumps so that it won’t grow back (*crosses fingers).


Abby shows us her favorite Snapchat filter with this stunning selfie

When we convened for lunch, several of us tried out various Snapchat filters and talked about which ones we like best (In case you’re wondering, my favorite is the flower crown or the dog ears). My data loggers arrived so another shout-out is in order, this time for Gretel and Will, who figured out how to put in the batteries. After lunch, we were ready to get back to work.

I went back to the bog to set up my data loggers. These measure micro-climate data like temperature and humidity. Afterwards, I joined James and Lea in p1 to catch any plants that had been missed previously. We found 11 new plants! It started to rain once we finished so we trekked back, finished some chores, and headed home.

Everyone was hungry after such a busy day, so we were excited about the risotto and salad that Lea made. We were also excited to treat ourselves to ice cream for dessert. Unfortunately I broke a spoon, but someone said it must have happened because all of that buckthorn cutting made me really strong.

Busy bees doing things and learning stuff

Today most of team went away to work on the Nature Conservancy project with the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid. And while I did not attend, from the group chat and an email, I deduced that a good ole’ time was had, that there was chocolate, and that it was a great year for flowering! I am looking forward to hearing about their trip and the project when they return tonight!

A select few of us, however, stayed back at camp to work on independent projects and oh, what an eventful day ensued! This day consisted of success, strife, disgruntled bumble bees, and progress!

Ah yes, I remember it like it was yesterday; however, it was only today, which really says something about today. Anyways, this morning Leah and I headed over to p2 to catch pollinators for my independent project about intra-specific pollen diversity. Leah caught a bumble bee, which unleashed a tenacious fury that Leah and I had never seen before. Who knew a bumble bee could get so angry or make itself look so large? Fortunately, it was in a vile and we observed safely from the side lines.


Leah and the indignant bumble bee.

Returning to the Hjelm house, I began painting bracts and Leah completed a lot of her pollen catalogue!

Jennifer and Alyson had already been working in the bog all morning removing buck thorn from Alyson’s plots for her independent project. Leah and I joined later to take down the relentless oppressor AKA buckthorn AKA buckthorn-(in-my-side). Ah, I kid, I kid…Much like this goat we spotted, the newest member of Team Echinacea.

I kid because it is more likely that we were a thorn in the buckthorn’s side because there are now 4 plots near the bog cleared of buckthorn!


The newest member of Team Echinacea being camera shy…

Other notable events that happened at the bog:

  • Jennifer took down a goliath buckthorn with her bare hands! (and a saw)

Jennifer vs. buckthorn. Winner: Jennifer. Every time.

  • A beaver was spotted on the edge of one of the plots! There are chewing marks on the side of this tree, but unfortunately it wasn’t buckthorn and the beaver was notified that we would no longer be outsourcing jobs to her and would rely on the robust and unyielding strength and determination of team Alyson/Jennifer/Leah/Laura.

Just a beaver workin’ hard.

Town hall with almost all of the flower children still away with the orchids was peaceful, quiet, and uneventful, allowing me to write this long flog post. The three remaining flower children were therefore able to cook in much smaller portions, to long for post-dinner conversations and shenanigans, and to take naps in everyone’s beds.

Taylor’s poster

Invasive Potential of E. pallida in Western Minnesota:



August 16, 2015: Camping excursion to Glendalough State Park

On our day off, some members of Team Echinacea went up to Glendalough state park to camp for a night. It was a great weekend because lots of things could have gone wrong, but we were super lucky and almost nothing did! For example, one of our tents didn’t have a rainfly, but then Stuart and Gretel let us borrow one of theirs! Thanks Stuart and Gretel! But we didn’t even end up sleeping in it—more about that later!! We also didn’t have a reservation, but it turned out that there was a no-show at a campsite, so we got that one! The lady at the park office told us that if a person named Nathan showed up, we would have to tell him that we had taken his campsite, but fortunately Nathan never showed up. Confrontation avoided! It was a canoe-in site, but lacking a canoe, we hiked there. Thanks for carrying the cooler, Gina!

We ate sandwiches and then went to the water. We decided to try to swim across the lake even though we agreed we weren’t very good at estimating distance across water. Then we swam across the lake! The water was really nice and it only took 45 minutes. We saw a loon and a bald eagle while we were swimming. Katherine and Gina walked to meet us at the beach on the other side. Next, we all spent a good 10-15 minutes giggling in the waves by the shore because we were happy and probably a little dehydrated. Then we realized that the beach we were on was being rented out for a family reunion and everyone around us was probably related and wondering who the heck we were, especially because they would have been able to see us bobbing across the lake for the past half hour! Thanks for sharing the beach, Will family!

Intrepid swimmers bob along swimmingly

Intrepid swimmers bob along swimmingly

Next we walked back to our campsite. We built a fire in about 15 minutes which Katherine thought was kind of a while, but many of the rest us agreed was “about as fast as we had ever started a fire before.” We had corn and hot dogs and took a lot of pictures of the fire, hot dogs, and the sunset (see example below).

Dinner time!

See similar pic on Gina’s instagram

Once it got dark we started looking at the stars and were doing that when two park rangers showed up. “Hey folks just wanted to let you know that your tents are a little bit off the tent pad and also there is a storm a-brewing in North Dakota that has hurricane-force winds and golf-ball sized hail and it’s heading this way,” was approximately what he said. We mumbled responses and then he said, “Tell you what, the folks at the yurt campsite vacated the premises early so I’ll go ahead and leave that unlocked so you can go there if things get dicey.” So we said, “Thanks officer!” and after several minutes of discussion we decided that the opportunity to sleep in a yurt was too good to pass up, especially with the possibility of inclement weather. So then we got to sleep in the yurt and it was warm and dry which was nice because it sounded like a pretty gnarly storm!

The yurt was very sturdy and well furnished. We woke up and took some more pics (see below). Next we ate breakfast at a nice little place in Battle Lake, which we all agreed was “a really cute town.” Then Ali drove us home and we made it back to Town Hall safe and sound! What a great and lucky weekend!

Da yurt!

Da yurt!

Project status updates 2014


Greetings from Chicago Botanic Garden! A new year is upon us and it is time to recap a busy 2014 summer. Over the next several weeks, we will be posting flog updates describing research projects from the summer and the status of the Echinacea Project’s long-term experiments. Stay tuned!

Click here to Browse all of the updates!

Nicholas Goldsmith’s Project Proposal

Attached my summer project proposal in pdf format

Final Poster!

Hi everyone,
I just wanted to thank everyone who helped me out in the field and helped give me advice on my poster. I am posing the final version below if anyone would like to look at it.


Project update

So far the phenology is going good, Heliopsis seems to be finishing up flowering, and I was able to pull some flags today! All the echinacea and coreopsis seem to be just at peak or a little past, while the carduss and flags are continuing to be mowed. I am starting to input my data and will probably have some preliminary graphs up next week!