Mmmh Mmmh Mmmh, Time for Pie

Hello Flog,

Long time, no flog. Guess where I am?!?




good guess.

Yes, I ventured to Chicago for an extended weekend of fun and work in the Chicago Botanic Garden lab for the next step  of my project about intra-specific pollen diversity (see proposal posted many moons ago).


I was greeted on Thursday night by Lea, Amy, and Scott with pizza! It was awesome and tasty, though I am more of a thin crust person myself. On Friday, I went to the lab with Amy and Lea and began dissecting the heads that I crossed this summer. Amy developed an ingenious system for separating my achenes and getting them x-ray ready that involved the sticky side of a post-it note.


Achenes prepped for x-raying.

Achenes prepped for x-raying.

Later, Stuart, Gretel, Lea, Amy and I explored some of the gardens on the way to lunch in the café. After a few more hours of dissection, we went home and upon Stuart’s orders, painted the town red, so to speak. After giving Lea’s dogs lots of love and attention, Amy, Lea, and I explored downtown Evanston and stumbled into a pie shop where we ate four different types of pie. Much like an ice cream shop, this pie shop begrudgingly gave us samples of their pie, so we all made very informed decision as there were a lot of choices. We all shared a expresso cream, pear fig, “Fat Elvis” (chocolate, peanut butter banana), and a curry lamb pie. Decadent, I know! Consensus: pie is delicious. Then we returned to the abode and watch Portlandia and went to sleep at promptly 9:30.


Amy and Betsy workin' hard.

Amy and Betsy workin’ hard.

This morning, Amy, Betsy (Amy’s visiting friend, feat. in photo and also shoutout for the help in lab), and I went to the gardens while Lea hit the lib hard. With their help, I finally dissected all my heads and got them ready for pre-germination treatment.


Shortly, we will be off to Lou Malnati’s Pizza to eat more pie (the central theme of my trip).




“They’re Way Too Good for You” Ft. Drake, Rhianna, Alyson, Leah, and Alex


This morning started off bittersweet with the unwelcome, yet catchy, anthem of Too Good in the “carty par” this morning. Leah drove me, Jame, and Alyson to Leah and Alyson’s last field day. I say unwelcomed, but everyone in Town Hall knows that Drake really grew on them thanks to the persistent efforts of Alyson and Leah. I hope Alex, who was in the other car, got to listen to something just as commemorative this morning as he was driven to his last field day too.

In the field this morning, we did fun-ology on the very few remaining flowering plants and did aphid addition and exclusion. Also notable, Leah and Alyson ate their last lunch out of their communal lunch box.


"Did you pack cheese today?"

“Did you pack cheese today?”

Everyone’s watery eyes weren’t the only puffy thing we experienced today because after lunch, Per, Hatti, and Patrice made cream puffs for the team. They were so delicious!

For the rest of the afternoon, we put staples in p1 and did rechecks. Leah found 7 plants and Jame found 9 plants and a meter stick!

While Leah packed for her 6am morning departure, the rest of us ventured to Barrett for some culture. We attended the Fire Prairie Children’s production of Alice in Wonderland. Hatti, Patrice, and Per all had roles and were awesome! They have been attending camp only for one week and put on a great show.

Tonight we all said our goodbyes to Leah and Alyson (Alex isn’t leaving until Sunday and will be able to join the weekend festivities with us, woohoo!) Goodbyes were a little easier for me because I will see these two lovely people back at Wooster.  I am so glad that I have gotten to know them this summer and can’t wait to continue spending time with and learning things from this dynamic duo throughout the year. So far I’ve learned that yes, two people can eat that much cheese,how to survive in a bog, that Drake is Too Good for me, that someone is lying about Drake and Rhianna being a “thing”, the pure joy of dropping a slide “jelly side up”, and that even when you think you can’t, you can always eat a whole bowl of taco dip.

Laura’s proposal: Catchin’ honeys for science and such (and by “honeys” I mean solitary bees)

You may catch more flies with honey. And you also may catch more honeys being fly. But I catch more honeys (which aren’t actually “honeys” or honey bees but rather solitary bees) with a quiet step and lots of vials.

For my independent project, I am interested in examining the infraspecific pollen diversity load on different pollinators of Echinacea in this community. With a more diverse pollen load, the pollinators will likely be able to supply more compatible pollen to Echinacea plants.

During mid-flowering, I snuck up on many an un-suspecting pollinator in experimental plot p2 and caught them in vials. I then took these pollinators to experimental plot p1 and wiped them on receptive styles. After the heads are harvested, I will dissect the akenes and germinate the seeds. I will perform paternity testing on the first true leaf and be able to identify not only the distance traveled by the pollinator but also examine the diversity of the pollen donors for the seedlings.

Check out my full proposal:

Laura’s proposal: Intraspecific pollen diversity on pollinators of Echinacea angustifolia

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 26th: Happy Boxing Day in July! Love, the Flower Children

Hello floglanders and happy Boxing Day in July to you! Earlier this summer, all of us at town hall decided that we wanted to celebrate Christmas in July; however, it snuck up on us very quickly. We all forgot that we wanted to celebrate, so yesterday when we realized that Christmas in July had came and went, we agreed upon celebrating similarly on Boxing Day in July. And oh what a festive day it has been.

You know that warm feeling that the winter holidays bring into the homes and the hearts of so many? Well we felt that on Christmas (Boxing Day) in July too. Except it was a literal warm feeling all over our bodies as it was tremendously humid today. We completed our last pollinator observations, which was bittersweet much like a questionable Christmas cut-out cookie. And oh the carols! After observations, more progress was made on the aphid addition and exclusion experiment, which involves persuading the aphids to add to plants by singing to them, or at least choir director Abby says that works.

After lunch, we all worked together and measured in p1. It might be that holiday feeling in the air, but searching for basal plants along rows really felt like looking for the perfect Christmas tree. But alas, the perfect tree was already erected in town hall.


Our tree adorned with snowflakes and a musty garland that we also found in the basement.

Yes, we found an artificial tree in the basement and decorated it with artisan snow flakes crafted from only the finest old magazines and catalogues. And those gifts you see under that tree not just for show, this isn’t Macy’s!

Yesterday, secret santa names were pulled and we all found items around town hall and in the field today to bestow upon some lucky person. Various personalized gifts were exchanged including: a rotating light, a Rubik’s pyramid, a crusty almond, some caramels, a “new” bag of beans, a paper machete cow, an origami venus fly trap, a single packet of  Taco Bell diablo hot sauce, oregano seeds, and Alyson’s field pouch!

But the real gift was a spirited game of Christmas in July Farkle and a family dinner of veggie burgers. Happy Boxing day in July to all and to all a goodnight.

Alyson received her own field pouch from Scotty boy! Equipped with a paper cup for when she is thirsty, a paper fan for when she is hot, and a mosquito swatter for those pesky buggers!

Alyson received her own field pouch from Scotty boy! Equipped with a paper cup for when she is thirsty, a paper fan for when she is hot, and a mosquito swatter for those pesky buggers!

Will receiving his rotating light from Abby (surprise!)

Will receiving his rotating light from Abby (surprise!)

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.



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.

ice-cream-Sunday June 26th

Today, June 26th, little Scott’s mind was blown (see below).


Scot trying to fathom how an ice cream sandwich could be so perfect.

Scott trying to fathom how an ice cream sandwich could be so perfect.

Yes, the most perfect and tastiest of ice cream sandwiches was created in Kensington today. Kensington is no longer the just the birth place of America but now the birth place of the most divine and exquisite ice cream sandwich. A stunning combination of chocolate brownie-cookie and mint chocolate chip ice cream in the perfect ratios created a treat that not only holds rank among ice cream sandwiches, but ALL sandwiches. Additionally, the “mouth-feel” was exceptional.

Energized by the ice cream, a spontaneous and rambunctious frisbee session began and superlatives were awarded.

Alyson: Best Mind Games and Most Intimidating Eye Contact

Amy: Best Dinosaur Noises

James: Longest Reach and Best Fake-outs

And then the game got serious when we asked the REAL questions: “How many ice cream sandwiches is too many ice cream sandwiches?” and  “Should we wash out feet before we get in bed or should we just put socks on?”

Stay tuned.

It’s Friday, gotta’ find seedlings on Friday.

Today we returned to q3 and continued searching for Echinacea seedlings. The seedlings found in q3 from yesterday and today totaled to 432 individuals! We’ve searched 556 of the 849 meter sections. Woohoo! We probably have one more half-day of searching. This total is lower than last year which we hypothesized could be related to the rough winter.

Lea and Alex

Lea and Alex found a seedling. Woot!

We only worked a half day today and headed home around noon. Kensington is getting ready for Rune Stone Days this weekend. We are looking forward to the pancake breakfast tomorrow!

Other notable events:

  • Half of the lower jaw of a rodent was found in q3.

Rodent remnants.

  • A lively game of “Is that Thunder or a Big Truck?” was played.
  • The paparazi spotted James riding riding back to town hall after work.

James, the lean, mean bike-riding machine

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).