Connecting you with nature
Earth day is April 22. It’s inspired me to write about a couple of things happening around my home, and to share resources on Earth Day and actions we can all take that support good stewardship of our planet.
Around My House
1. Happy Bees, Happy Humans, Happy Earth.
A little over a week ago, I was out in our garden and photographed a honey bee feeding on our Lunaria flowers. The images below were taken late in the day with very low light, so image quality is a little degraded. For science-minded gardeners, Lunaria is a type of flowering plant in the family “Brassicaceae.” It includes two varieties, the annual or biennial “Lunaria annua,” and the perennial “Lunaria rediviva.” Our garden has Lunaria annua.
The beautiful flowers alone make this plant worth growing, but its benefits for pollinators and beautifying our indoor spaces make this a garden sensation. Lunaria is commonly called silver dollar, dollar plant, money plant, moonwort, and honesty plant. See the photo below for what it looks like in its dried form after the season is over. Lunaria is a colorful, attractive, honey-bee friendly plant that looks good outdoors and indoors – for years. It’s an easy win-win for the environment and us. Happy Bees, Happy Humans, Happy Earth.
Here’s a bit more about Lunaria for gardeners and growers, and in the next section I highlight why it’s critical that we’re thinking about pollinators. The Latin name Lunaria means "moon-like" and refers to the decorative seedpods. “Lunaria annua” are 2-3 feet tall biennials with heart-shaped leaves that carry fragrant, one half inch purple or white spring flowers. Blooms are followed by brown seed pods. Ripened seed pods release their outer covering with the seeds and translucent silvery/white circles remain – this is a favorite for beautiful dried flower arrangements. Lunaria blooms in mid-summer, in hardiness zones 4-8 (https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/InteractiveMap.aspx), and it requires sun to part shade. Live in a space that doesn't have a garden or you have limited outdoor space? Plant your Lunaria in pots indoors or in boxes or pots on your balcony or patio. Indoor growers will not get bees but will get beautiful blooms and dried flowers if you can follow the growing guides.
Lunaria is properly grown as a biennial, and in its second year makes large well-branched plants, after which it will seed itself freely around the garden. You can allow the seed pods to dry on the plant or you can snip the stems after the pods turn brown, tie a few together, and hang them to dry. To collect the seeds, wait until they’re brown in the pod. Then rub the pod between your fingers to gently remove the outer layer. Store them in an air-tight container, someplace dark, cool, and dry.
Importance of Pollinators (see Sources)
Pollinators provide a nearly invisible service that’s worth billions of dollars and supports human life.
Pollinator populations are changing. Many pollinator populations are in decline due to a loss in feeding and nesting habitats, pollution, the misuse of chemicals, disease, and changes in climatic patterns.
How to protect pollinators:
2. Old T-Shirts Never Die.
A second thing happening around my house, which we’ve been doing for years, is re-purposing old worn-out fabrics as cleaning rags. More and more people are catching on to this. Rather than send our worn-out towels, sheets, t-shirts, sweatshirts (and the like) to the garbage, we re-purpose them as cleaning rags. Saves on paper towels and their source – trees. There's a lot more we do in my house to lessen our environmental footprint. These are a couple.
3. Earth Day Resources and Tips.
Coronavirus has shut down a lot of things these days, but the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 is on and going digital. Check out Earth Day Network at www.earthday.org. There are so many easy things we can each do to improve our environmental footprint. You may already be doing a lot of them. Do a simple search in your web browser for “Earth Day Challenges”, or “Earth Day Tips” and you’ll uncover lots of easy and great tips. Earth Day Network has daily challenges which are very helpful and informative, https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-challenge/. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), also turns 50 this year. Check out their incredibly important and challenging work at and get some Earth Day tips, https://www.epa.gov/50.
Sources on Pollinators: https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection, http://npic.orst.edu/envir/pollinator.html ; https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/the-situation/ , https://www.pollinator.org/pollinators
Sources on Lunaria: https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=LUAN