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June 2017
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Sometimes you just need to rant. And rave.

A Rant

Trees are coming down all along the White River levee on Indianapolis’ north side. It’s a sad, unsettling scene. Under direction of the Army Corps of Engineers, the trees are being removed to protect the levee.

Trees are being removed from the White River levee. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

The trees, all volunteers, probably should never have been allowed to take root there. But no one warned the bald eagles, great horned owls or songbirds that for decades have nested along the river. This spring, their homes have been destroyed, seemingly without any consideration about the nests or bird families’ well being. Normally, arborists take into account bird-nesting habits when pruning or removing trees,.

To add insult to injury, the tree-removing crews are leaving the honeysuckle bushes. The shrubs will continue their extremely invasive habits along the levee (and into our yards). On the state’s invasive species list, these Asian shrubs leaf out very early and hold their leaves very late, shrouding any native species that might replenish the slopes of the levee and riverbank. Birds eat the berries and help spread the plant by dropping seeds.

The crews have preserved a line of trees at the river’s edge, for which I’m grateful. But I’ll miss the hoots of the great horned owls that stood guard in the big sycamore tree I could see from my house, as I walked to get the morning paper. I can only hope they will return some day.

A Rave

Several years ago, the Indianapolis Museum of Art had the slogan: Art Inside and Out. I loved it because I felt like it acknowledged the gardens as part of the art.

Spring Blooms, an outdoor exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, continues through May. Photo courtesy Irvin Etienne

There’s no doubt about the gardens as art anymore. The gardens are the exhibit with Spring Blooms: Celebration of Color. More than 150,000 spring-blooming bulbs were planted last fall. This spring, they were paired with 23,000 cool-season annuals, such as pansies and snapdragons. Dozens of perennials, including the eye-catching lime green ‘Citronelle’ coral bell (Heuchera) enhance the color and texture of the plantings. Forty-five new, large, beautifully planted pots adorn the gardens, too.

Opening weekend brought in at least 3,000 visitors, and about 300 joined the museum, boosting membership to more than 16,000, said Charles Venable, chief executive officer at the IMA.

What can gardeners learn from this exhibit? That there are early, mid- and late-season tulips, daffodils and other bulbs. By selecting a mix, we can extend the spring color in our landscapes. And because bulbs, annuals and perennials bloom successively, the beauty should last through May 31, when the exhibit ends.

Spring Blooms is free for IMA members; nonmembers, $18. There are reduced rates for students and others (http://bit.ly/2ozFGKA ).

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