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THE
JOURNAL

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Winter Edition

February, 2023

UPCOMING VOLUNTEER DAYS

To sign up for any of the following volunteer days, please click on the button below to fill out the sign up form.

We will be removing phragmites from Pleasant Valley, but need a solid freeze to be able to walk on the ice.  For those who are interested in being notified closer to the date, please email pporter@cnylandtrust.org.

Nest box building dates are to build boxes for installation at preserves and for general fundraising.

Thursday, February 23rd - Bluebird and Mason Bee Nest Box Building at Bachar Preserve in Skaneateles 10:00 AM until done

Friday, March 17th - Bluebird and Mason Bee Box Nest Building at Bachar Preserve in Skaneateles 10:00 AM until done

Thursday, March 23rd - Bluebird and Mason Bee Nest Box Building at Woodchuck Hill in Manlius 10:00 AM until done

Thursday, April 6th - Bluebird and Mason Bee Nest Box Building at Pleasant Valley Preserve in Marcellus 10:00 AM until done

Friday, April 14th - Three Falls Woods Trail Clearing 10:00 AM until done.  We will be continuing to widen the trail.

Saturday, April 22nd - Walk for Nature at Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville.  We need volunteers to help us run the walk, check people in, take donations, sell merchandise, hand out water bottles, and talk about the CNY Land Trust.  The walk begins at 1:00 PM, but we will need volunteers there to help us set up by 11:00 AM.

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50th
The Central New York Land Trust Turns 50

by Kendra Pearson

The Central New York Land Trust is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and we have some commemorative events planned, including Walk for Nature, which re-creates the first walkathon that raised funds to save Baltimore Woods in 1972. 

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Since our incorporation in 1973, we have added an additional 50 conservation sites - one for each year we have served CNY.  It has been an impressive ride for an organization that got its start as a small grassroots group wanting to save one parcel of land.  Our community of members, volunteers and supporters has grown over the years, and you all share purposeful goals and visions stretching far beyond this lifetime.  It is because of those visions, we have more than 3,400 acres of protected spaces in CNY.  This milestone has given many of us cause to reflect on our accomplishments and a renewed energy to establish goals for the next 50 years, and we know that our work is just beginning.   
 

According to Global Forest Watch, in the last twenty years, the United States has lost 16% of our tree cover due to deforestation, and we now face the rapid decline of hemlock and ash trees due to the invasive pests hemlock woolly adelgid and emerald ash borer.  These types of challenges are particularly burdensome for our stewardship department and volunteers as they are faced with more monitoring, maintenance and the need for collaboration with outside agencies in an attempt to mitigate the effects of losing these beloved and important trees.  Just this past year, we were inundated with several downed ash trees encroaching on private property, which required removal by us or by professional tree removal services, which are costly, but necessary expenses.  We have also been working with several agencies to combat hemlock woolly adelgid on our preserves, which are facing irreparable damage if these pests are not controlled.  The effects on the security of our drinking water due to the knock on effect of lost hemlock trees in our watersheds would be devastating, and so we must act now.

In New York State, we have seen a rapid decline in populations of native pollinators, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.  We are working diligently to return post agricultural fields to wildflower and successional growth meadows and young forests.  We continue to protect fragile wetlands, which are the last remaining habitats for many of the creatures currently on the threatened and endangered species list.  We are replanting lost trees and creating young forests to replace our lost mature species.  
 

Our land conservation efforts have extended to safeguarding drinking water as we combat the effects of human encroachment in our watersheds, riparian zones and eskers.  This past year we undertook a monumental riparian zone repair project within one of our 92-acre preserves in the Skaneateles Lake watershed, which is directly upstream from the intake for the water supply for the City of Syracuse.  Rehabilitation of the esker will take several years to complete, but we have proudly finished the first phase of the repair and are looking forward to the second phase this year.  Before we acquired this land, it underwent significant damage due to deforestation and disruption of its fragile ecosystem.  We knew from the beginning that this would be an uphill battle, but we were acutely aware of the importance of this portion of the Robert J. Vitkus Conservation Area.

This 50th year and beyond, we will be facing these challenges, and many more as we deal with the effects of climate change, human development, and the introduction of more invasive plants and pests through globalization.  As partners in these challenges, we are looking to you this year to help us raise awareness about The Central New York Land Trust.  Please sign up for our Walk for Nature and show the community that we are a force for change.  Spread the word about what we are doing.  Share our website and social media links with your friends, family and colleagues, and encourage them to sign up for our newsletter.  If the past fifty years were highlighted by the number of acres we saved, we would like the next fifty to be signified by the number of people we educate and inspire to join this movement.  

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Dear Friends and Members,

 

The Central New York Land Trust celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  We want to honor that incredible milestone by advancing our Stewardship Department philosophy of connecting communities and building bridges with programs that unite people with nature, and projects that re-establish displaced wildlife and damaged habitats.    

We plan to continue the water connectivity work begun last year by identifying more problem areas and pinch points under bridges and in culverts on our preserves and in the community at large.  We will repair and replace what we can, and address areas that require additional funding and outside expertise.  If you missed our fall newsletter, I encourage you to read the article Building Bridges and Connecting Waterways to learn more about what we are doing to improve and repair water passages.

The second phase of our Skaneateles Lake riparian zone repair at Albanese begins this spring.  We will succession plant native trees, shrubs, and plants in the hopes that they can quickly take root and assist in retaining the sandy substrate.    

We will be installing the Universal Access Trail at Pleasant Valley Preserve, which opens up this treasure to people with mobility issues and vision impairments.  The trail will lead through the new pollinator meadow to a new bird hide overlooking the wetland for auditory and visual bird observation.  

We are expanding our pollinator meadow project, including invasive plant removal and continued seeding at High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary and creation of a new wildflower meadow at Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve.  We will be adding some plants that are a little more difficult to establish from seed, as well as native shrubs and trees.

The native bee nesting habitat will be installed at Pleasant Valley Preserve.  This impressive five foot structure will be the centerpiece for the native pollinator interpretive kiosk and corresponding pollinator education program.  

We are currently working with educators to create programs for middle and high school students in our effort to bring practical ecology into the classroom.  The goals of this program are to bridge the gap between Onondaga County and Onondaga Nation Schools, creating a space where traditional expertise is combined with current conservation knowledge.  My sincere hope is to foster cultural bonds and mutual respect in students while they gain a better understanding of, and create a multilayered approach to, some of the problems facing our environment. 

We have some new property donations that are critical pieces of land whose preservation will greatly benefit the community.  Stay tuned for updates on these parcels.

Many of you have expressed your excitement at our new volunteer workshop, which we have been setting up this winter.  Our shop is complete with woodworking space and CNC router.  A portion of the router was donated to us by Bob's CNC Routers and the corresponding software donated in its entirety from Vectric Software.  We are still looking for additional equipment donations to complete the workshop, but once done we will be able to build benches, kiosks, nest boxes, and native pollinator habitats to name a few.  Assembling the CNC router has been a big undertaking for Henry and myself, but well worth it.  This router gives us the ability to carve interpretive material and memorial information on benches, placards, and pretty much everything else we build.

Lastly, we have some exciting events scheduled this year, the first of which is our Walk for Nature at Green Lakes Park on Earth Day.  If you have not signed up yet, please make sure you do.  We are commemorating our first walk in 1972, which raised enough money to allow us to save Baltimore Woods.  Let's show the community what The CNY Land Trust family is all about by showing up in numbers.  Walkers will get an event t-shirt and plenty of bragging rights - especially those of you who were at our first walk in 1972!

Thank you all for your efforts throughout our impressive 50 year journey.  Welcome to all of our new members.  You have found your community, and we are happy to have you.

See you on the trail,

Paul Porter

Director of Stewardship

Letter From Director
Letter from the Director of Stewardship
Walk for Nature
50th Anniversary Commemorative Walk

The Central New York Land Trust is having its 50th anniversary Walk For Nature at Green Lakes State Park this Earth Day, April 22, 2023, at 1:00 PM. 

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The Central New York Land Trust started as a local group of concerned citizens called "Save the County" with a mission to save Baltimore Woods in 1972.  A walk was organized by citizens and students, which encompassed most of the schools in Onondaga County, as well as scout groups and clubs.  This was one of the first walks in the nation to use sponsorship donors as a way to raise money.  It was so successful that the entire purchase price for Baltimore Woods was raised by students, and we were able to save that important piece of land. 

 

 

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The first walk was such a success, and attendees and organizers were so motivated to continue protecting land, that they incorporated the following year.  In the subsequent years, students walked to save several other sites, but unfortunately, the sponsorship walk model was difficult to sustain as so many other local and national organizations began using this method

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to raise money, and schools and organizations were flooded with requests for sponsorship walks.  Eventually, we switched to a membership-based model for raising money.  Though this model has been easier to manage from our perspective, it has caused us to lose our student base.  

We want to connect once again with the youth of CNY, empower them to make a difference in the environment, and hopefully foster in them a lifelong appreciation for nature.  We believe our fiftieth anniversary is the perfect occasion to do just that as we commemorate the walk that started it all.  

If you know of a student or school that might like to raise money and get involved in our walk, please have them contact Paul Porter pporter@cnylandtrust.org, or visit our Walk for Nature page.  If you want to purchase tickets, they are on sale now. 

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Walk for Nature
Carpenter Bees
Cohabitating with Carpenter Bees

by Brayden DeMaria and Bronwyn Porter,

Student Curators of the Native Bee Project

Carpenter bees, Xylocopa virginica, are thought of as pests, but they are actually very important creatures in our ecosystem.  They are the only bees besides bumblebees and minute sweat bees that perform buzz pollination.  Buzz pollination is when bees vibrate their flight muscles to get flowers to release their pollen. 

 

Why is buzz pollination important?  Because it's the only way plants like blueberries, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes can be pollinated.  Carpenter bees are also important pollinators of native plants such as mountain mint, goldenrod, and coneflowers.  Due to their large size, these bees are incredibly efficient when it comes to pollinating.  

 

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Drone Male Carpenter Bee 

Carpenter bees are often seen in a negative light due to their potential to damage wood structures when building their nests.  So what did they do before we came along?  They used trees and rotting wood.  We have done a lot to displace carpenter bees.  We cut down their homes so we can build ours.  We clear cut their habitats so we can grow cheap food.  We pollute their world with insecticides, which are wiping out their populations.  When we find them around, we exterminate them because they are doing what comes naturally - rearing their young.  We native beekeepers have another solution.  Why not live side by side with these beneficial insects by creating alternate habitats and making our homes less palatable to them?

 

Thankfully, there are good ways to deter carpenter bees from nesting in your structure without harming them! The easiest way is to paint the wood or use a coat of clear varnish because those substances are off-putting to the bees, and makes it harder for them to burrow. You can also mist the surfaces you want to protect with citrus essential oil, as they are sensitive to the smell.  

 

At the same time that you protect the wood in your home, put up alternate nesting sites for the carpenter bees nearby.  They are easy to make and inexpensive or free.  All you need to do is find some suitable wood (soft, untreated wood is best).  If you have some old pine logs, use those.  Carpenter bees burrow a ½” hole, 6-8” deep, along the length of the grain of the wood, so a chunk of unsplit firewood will do.  You can secure the wood to a tree or create a stack of logs on their side.  If you have an electric drill and a ½” drill bit, you can create one or two of these holes to encourage them.  Put a roof with an eave on the bee house to keep the rain out, and you are done.  Carpenter bees like an eave over their nesting sites, which is one of the reasons they choose window frames and soffits.  

 

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Unlike mason bee houses that require yearly maintenance by native beekeepers, the carpenter bee queens do all of the work themselves.  They prefer to return to their old nests each year.  It is easier for them.  Imagine building your house from scratch every year with your teeth?  In existing nest sites, all they have to do is perform a little spring cleaning before starting the next generation of bees.  

 

Carpenter bees are excellent native bees to have around.  It is important to understand their behavior so that you don’t feel intimidated by them.  Female carpenter bees are smaller than males.  They spend over half of their lives in their nesting holes.  Carpenter bees have a very interesting social structure.  Unlike honeybees, they do not have one queen.  Instead, groups of dominant older females construct the nest, gather pollen, and produce eggs while the young females guard the nest entrance and larger, male drones stay outside chasing away predators and other carpenter bees.    

Female Carpenter Bee Guarding Her Nest

These male drones are all talk and no action.  Male carpenter bees do not have stingers, and though their job is to patrol the perimeter of the nest, they cannot harm you.  They may fly and even hover near your face to get you to leave, but that is all.  They are actually pretty cute, so for us this behavior has the opposite effect.  

 

Female carpenter bees do have stingers, but will only sting if they or their nest are attacked.  We have spent countless hours watching the females at the entrances of their holes with no ill effects.  They have gotten used to us and they go about their business unphased by our presence. 

 

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Sealing the nest entrance

Male drone keeping an eye on us as we observe the nests

Did you know that bees can recognize facial features?  It’s true.  Bee’s brains are the size of a poppy seed, but they are smart.  Bees get to know the people they share their space with, and are especially accommodating to those who leave them sweet treats.  

 

If you have a vegetable garden you may want to encourage rather than discourage these amazing insects.  They do a much more efficient job of pollinating your prized pumpkins, helping you select the perfect squash, creating the crispiest cucumbers, and making the best blueberries.  

 

The CNY Land Trust is collaborating with youth in Syracuse and the surrounding areas to cultivate habitats for pollinators of all kinds, but especially the native bees of Central New York. Our current focus is our new pollinator meadow at Pleasant Valley Preserve. We have planted over thirty native flowering plants in this meadow, including various types of goldenrod, coneflower, and mountain mint, which are all flowers pollinated by carpenter bees.  Our next goal is to construct a bee house with plenty of nesting space for all kinds of vital bees native to this area.  As spring approaches, we can’t wait to welcome back all the wonderful pollinators we couldn’t live without. 


We love Instructables.  Check out this link to a homemade carpenter bee house.  Our only suggestion would be to only drill a couple of encouragement holes and let them do the rest.   https://www.instructables.com/Make-your-own-little-Bee-Houses/

Woodchuck Hill Volunteer Day
Woodchuck Hill Volunteer Day

We had a wonderful turn out at our December work day at Woodchuck Hill.  Twenty-two volunteers braved the cold and wind to help us begin reclaiming several sections of the trail.  Wood chips were added to a stretch of trail that had previously been raised, widened and cleared.  The new Land Trust equipment, volunteer wheelbarrows, shovels, tools, and strong backs made quick work of the job. Similar trail improvements need to be done at Woodchuck Hill, which we look forward to doing when the weather permits.  Keep an eye out for upcoming volunteer day sign ups to join us!  

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Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve - A Legacy

by Terry Doolittle, Friends of Woodchuck Hill Member

The lands of Woodchuck Hill Field and Forest Preserve were donated by Mrs. Beryl R. Digney in late 1994 and early 1995.

Mrs. Digney was a very diverse person.  She was a family woman, a business woman, and a great lover of animals and nature.

 

She and her family lived in a farm on the property, and had exotic animals such as llamas, peacocks, miniature donkeys and guinea hens. They were horse people, and participated in fox hunts and horse shows throughout central New York.  

When interviewed by Lois Vosburgh of the Post Standard in 1995, she explained the reason for her donation.

 

After hearing that the slogan of Save the County (which later became CNY Land trust) was ‘Always wild’, she said,  “That is the reason for my gift, Woodchuck Hill is a wonderful area.  I want the fields kept forever green and the wooded areas forever wild.”

Mrs. Digney died in her home in 2006 at the age of 96.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Survey
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Healthy Hemlock at Pleasant Valley Preserve

The Central New York Land Trust is hosting a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid informational with The Finger Lakes PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) at Bachar Preserve in Skaneateles on Saturday, March 4, 2023 from 9:00 AM until 12:00 PM.  The Finger Lakes PRISM has partnered with Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the NYSDEC to advance invasive species outreach, education, and management in the broader Finger Lakes region.  

This program hopes to identify new populations of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) in our region and help prioritize control measures where hemlocks can still be saved.  All are welcome to learn about this invasive pest, identification, and management plans.  A guided identification hike will be provided, so dress warmly if you would like to attend. 

The eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is one of the most important tree species we have in our region. These trees are essential as they cast the most shade of any native tree species we have in New York, and the shade beneath a hemlock canopy creates unique environments that many other species like the brook trout rely on. Hemlocks also tend to grow on the cliffs of many of the gorges around the Finger Lakes. If we lose hemlocks, it becomes increasingly likely that these cliffsides will collapse and alter many of our waterways. By protecting hemlocks, we protect not only the trees themselves, but all of the organisms that rely on them and the habitats they create.

Sign up for this event.​ If you have any questions, please email ssolomon@cnylandtrust.org.

Wild Lupine
Gardening with Intention

by Joby Swerdlow



My parents loved getting their hands in the dirt, and on hot summer days shortly after we moved to Syracuse from Rangoon in 1957, my father would trade in his suit and tie for a cool Burmese longyi, to garden in. My early gardening memories include cars screeching to a halt at the sight of a short, fat, bald guy with glasses and a long skirt, contentedly working in the front lilac hedge.


Harry’s and my first little house had ready made beautiful gardens, but the subsequent Manlius home building site in 1988 had had its topsoil scraped and sold off. There was barely a foot of clay subsoil over a shale bed. The first years required adding soil just to plant a sapling tree, and the strange looking soil bumps incited enlargement and turning into garden islands. It was five years before I could force a shovel into the ground. Garden designs came and went: white gardens, bright gardens, night gardens, food gardens. I had no idea of the difference between native and naturalized, and agreed with garden writers who noted that no insect damage was a positive attribute.


In the meantime, plant roots and their mycorrhizal symbionts improved our still thin soil, invasive species threatened to take over, and my knowledge base increased. I gradually moved towards a more ecologically sensible garden, with more emphasis on regional native and good pollinator plants.  It has been a fascinating journey, and has introduced me to some terrific people, organizations, and source material. I’ll make a few, idiosyncratic comments, plus note basic reference material.


First of all, I suggest people become intimately familiar with their property-soil character, light availability, deer browse, wind exposure, and so on.  Although a 100% regional native garden is laudable, it is not aesthetically optimal for many people, who like other plants and want some lawn. I strongly recommend: reduce lawn to the minimum acceptable, seed in at least 25% white clover, enjoy the green mosaic of weeds, and stop all lawn pesticides.


Trees and shrubs that attract native arthropods are critical. No caterpillars = little food for ravenous baby birds. For instance, native maple species support hundreds of Lepidopterans (moths and butterflies), while Norway maples support only a few. My beloved gingko has no insect damage, to the detriment of local birds. I love my lilacs, but the gray catbirds love my gray dogwoods (Cornus racemosa).


Milkweeds for monarchs is a mantra to take to heart. Plant whatever regional milkweed species are suitable, and then plant more. Common milkweed (Asclepsias syriaca) flowers are highly fragrant. There is evidence (reference below) that modern numbers of east coast fall nectar plants have been insufficient for the southerly monarch butterfly migration. A garden can not have too many fall blooming goldenrods and asters. Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is a garden bully, but there are less aggressive goldenrod and aster species.  As a general rule, named plant cultivars and double flowers have reduced or no nectar.

 

One garden aesthetic issue I am still working on is the tall abruptness of many regional native perennials, against the lawn, even with a hard June trimming. Edging with sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis), prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis), great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), zinnias, and golden alexanders (Zizia aurea) helps a lot. Verbena bonariensis gracefully grows through other plants, and attracts insects.


Perhaps my single most attractive plant to migrating monarchs is tall varieties of Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), easily started from seed indoors a few weeks before the last frost. Rich soil encourages leaves at the expense of flowers, so do not fertilize.


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A serious gardener, like a serious farmer, nurtures the soil. Organic material and complex life webs develop when not blasted with poisons or quick acting chemical fertilizers. I also recommend avoiding commercial mulch. Instead, rake in shed leaves (not black walnut). The juncos and house wrens will avidly seek out insects in the leaves, and the garden benefits from the nutrients brought up by deep tree roots.


There are a number of excellent native and pollinator plant resources for CNY.  I recommend that all gardeners join the Wild Ones organization. Janet and John Allen have turned the local Habitat Gardening of CNY chapter into a national role model. Their monthly online mailing is full of useful information, and they have a biannual preorder nursery grown native plant sale at their home. 


Some other excellent information sources are first and foremost, ANY books and pieces written by Douglas Tallamy. Also highly recommended are “Native Plants of the Northeast” by Donald Leopold, “Native Plants for Native Birds” by Joel Baines, “Garden Revolution” by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher, “The American Woodland Garden” by Rick Darke, “Monarchs and Milkweed” by Anurag Agrawal, “The Northeast Native Plant Primer” by Uli Lorimer and published by the Native Plant Trust , and “Pollinator Conservation Handbook” published by The Xerces Society.   Online resources include the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Missouri Botanical Garden.


I have found most regional garden centers disappointing for native gardening, with a narrow selection and often ignorant staff. Two places worth the trip with an empty car going out are The Plantsman Nursery in Groton, and Amanda’s Garden in Dansville. There are plenty of excellent online sources for appropriate seeds and plants, which, however, may not be entirely regional or have genetic variability. However, I still way prefer them to typical garden center flowers.


An informative article on soil carbon movement is “Soil Carbon Storage” by Todd Ontl and Lisa Schulte, and an important book on climate change is “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells. The concept of soil carbon capture  becomes immediately relevant to the serious gardener.


There are native plant and pollinator gardens at Baltimore Woods Nature Center, and at the Three Falls Woods and Woodchuck Hill preserves. The natural world of course provides the best garden design inspirations. CNYLT staff and volunteers also have great native plant expertise, and are a pleasure to talk with.

I am not being naive-in my neighborhood, it is hard to successfully nurture native animal life surrounded by homes with extensive, treated, lawns; nonnative plantings; and plenty of free-roaming cats. The aesthetics of less tightly groomed landscaping is not for everyone, and accepting change takes time. But native plant and pollinator gardens, however small, nourish the earth and nourish the soul.

Monarch Caterpillars, Danaus plexippus

Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica 

Canada Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis

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Gardening with Intention
Wild Blue Lupine - An Important Native Wildflower

by Kendra Pearson

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Wild Blue Lupine, Lupinus perennis

Wild Blue Lupine (L. perennis) is a native wildflower to most of the Eastern United States, and the only host plant for the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis).  It is also host to several Duskywings, including the endangered Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius persius) and the threatened Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus), though these butterflies have more than one host plant, which makes them slightly less susceptible to extirpation.  The decline of the wild blue lupine and these dainty butterflies are intrinsically related.

Wild blue lupines have suffered a multi-pronged assault over the years, including conventional agriculture, fire suppression, loss of habitat, and human encroachment.  These native plants thrive in acidic, sandy locales, and are especially suited for pine barrens and areas where natural fire cycles are allowed to occur. Lupines were once a common sight across our country, but all varieties of wild lupines have suffered devastating losses throughout North America.

Wild lupines also lost favor as home garden plants when cultivars were introduced like the Russell lupine, which was developed in England in the 1930s.  Its popularity as a tightly packed, upright, cut flower that came in a mix of over 300 bright colors, quickly allowed it to surpass the native lupine as a choice for the home gardener.  In contrast, the wild blue lupine has a more wispy, open flower habit, and occurs in subtle shades of blue, purple, white, and pink.  All lupines are members of the pea family (Fabaceae) and are great nitrogen fixers for poor soil.   

Are Wild Blue Lupines Right for Your Garden? 

All lupines, cultivars or natives, are best to establish in well drained, poor, acidic, sandy soil in full sun.  They like slopes leading down to water, so if you have a lakeside cottage on a slope, these flowers could be a great addition.  They have a hardy tap root, which helps stabilize highly erodible land - a bonus for eskers. 

Most of us in CNY though have slightly acidic, clay-rich, heavy soil that tends to have poor drainage, so adding the wild lupine may not be right for every gardener, but if you would like to try and establish a patch of these flowers, you can amend some of your garden to help mimic its preferred growing conditions.

A combination of peat moss and sand is an obvious choice, but if you are looking for a more environmentally friendly solution, I suggest a combination of coffee grounds and leaf litter.  You can also add coir, which is a substitute for peat moss.  Though coir will help with drainage, it will not raise the acidity of your soil.  Try working amendments into your future lupine patch instead of depositing them on the surface.  This helps loosen up the soil and prevents too much moisture retention.  Make sure you plant in full sun.  

Wild blue lupines are not commonly found in nurseries, but luckily they are easy to start from seed.  There are two good methods for starting lupine seeds - one is to direct seed in the early spring two weeks before the last frost (for most of us that is around May 5th) in a weed-free bed, 1/2 an inch deep, and the other is to wait two weeks before your first frost free date, scarify the seed with a serrated knife, wrap them in a damp paper towel, and place them in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator.  After ten days they are ready to plant out in a well worked bed 1/2 an inch deep.  Some of the seeds may be sprouted at this point, which is fine.  Just be careful not to disturb the root when you plant them.  Tap-rooted plants, even during sprouting stages, do not like their roots disturbed.  Do not be afraid to scarify the seed.  Scarification is the process of chipping away the outer shell of a seed with a serrated knife or file.  There are several online tutorials to help.  

Wild blue lupines should germinate in two to four weeks.  They may or may not bloom in the first year, and though they are a short lived perennial, they reseed themselves quite well, so once established they should be a dependable native in you garden.

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Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius persius)

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Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

There are several resources online where you can purchase wild blue lupine seeds, including everwilde.com, edenbrothers.com, and johnnyseeds.com.  

The sight of these dainty lupines in the garden is reward enough.  It may be too much to hope that any of our efforts here in CNY will help to prevent the extinction of the Karner Blue Butterfly.  According to the NYSDEC, they no longer exist here, and their population losses overall have been far greater than the Frosted Elfin and the Duskywings.  This is perhaps due to the fact that the Elfin and Duskywing have more than one host plant (the wild blue lupine and the wild blue indigo).  All three butterflies have small colonies that used to overlap each other in a network going up and down the east coast, but many of these colonies have been cut off from each other and only occur now in isolated groups.  There have been sightings of Karner Blue Butterflies outside of their current range, but these have been very isolated.  

The Frosted Elfin and the Persius Duskywing are still found in CNY, so establishing wild blue lupines and wild blue indigo (this plant is available at nurseries - I saw some at Crazy Daisies just last year) that could potentially host their caterpillars is a worthwhile endeavor.  If you do establish a host garden for these lovely little butterflies, I hope you will save the seed and share them along with your planting experiences with friends and neighbors.

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Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus)

First Day Hike